Brokeback Mountain (winner)
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence
Oh, what a good year for adapted screenplays 2005 is! Even just limiting myself to the five nominees, I don’t have a huge number of complaints here. While there are some changes I’d make, I get the nominations for all five of the ones listed. Still, I think there are some places we can go that are more interesting. As usual, I’ll start with the nominations that would never happen from the Academy, starting with the odd little silent The Call of Cthulhu, which honestly probably is more of a short, which makes its nomination unlikely even in the best of situations. Genre likely prevents the nominations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Serenity. That’s also likely true of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, including the fact that the Potter franchise never got any Oscar love. Tsotsi was probably too underknown and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang probably wasn’t taken that seriously despite being a very smart screenplay. I’m a little surprised that North Country was left off. I’m even more surprised that Pride and Prejudice didn’t get a nomination.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. I think Munich is potentially a lot more interesting than the movie that we actually got. There’s at least the potential for a story of revenge that has international and even spiritual consequences. The problem is that the film eventually gets bogged down in a story that changes in odd ways and eventually simply peters out into something far different than it started as. There is a story here that needs to be told; I’m simply not convinced that it’s this story. I’d much rather see Pride and Prejudice here, or even Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
4. I’m in almost exactly the same place with The Constant Gardener, which has a much better story in it than the one that we actually get. A big part of this for me is Rachel Weisz’s character, who is simultaneously terribly unpleasant and also almost perfectly noble in certain respects. I dislike her intensely, and since much of the story turns on her and her actions, a story that should be important and worth seeing is harder to watch than it should be. I want to like this a lot more than I do. It should be better than it is.
3. A History of Violence is a movie that I probably like a little more than I should, given the way that the story actually works. I love the idea of it, but there are some elements of the story that are simply too big of mental jumps to make without some head scratching. The story does have a lot going for it, and it’s a unique and interesting take on the idea of a mob story. It also benefits from some great performances, but those performances had a good starting point. As I said, I like this a little more than I should, given its problems.
2. I understand completely the win for Brokeback Mountain, and I don’t object to it that much. It’s a damn good movie, and it’s a damn good story. But it’s a good story really for what it is. At its core, Brokeback Mountain is a story about a forbidden love, and it’s not anything more than that. The big difference is that it’s a homosexual affair. Seriously, though, this is a movie that we’ve seen over and over with a heterosexual couple at the helm. I think it’s a great movie, and an important one, but one difference in an old story may not be enough.
1. And so my choice is Capote. Here’s the thing--Capote does a lot of what Brokeback Mountain does, and also gives us the story behind one of the most important books of the 20th century. I’ve read “In Cold Blood,” and the book is an absolute masterpiece. Getting the story behind it is almost as good as the story that Capote tells in his book, and that’s not a small thing. This is a bigger-than-life story about something that really happened that was itself about something that really happened. It’s a true masterpiece, and it’s where my vote goes.