Friday, June 14, 2019

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Original Screenplay 1967

The Contenders:

Bonnie and Clyde
Divorce, American Style
La Guerre est Finie
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (winner)
Two for the Road

What’s Missing

It seems that 1967 is one of those years where my favorites are in a different category. The movies I seem to really like from this year are all based on adapted screenplays, which leaves us a lot lighter in the original screenplay category. In fact, the three that I think would be worth considering are all foreign language films. I’m not a Godard fan, but I appreciate 2 or 3 Things I Know about Her, and it might be worth considering. I’d be a lot more comfortable nominating The Young Girls of Rochefort. If I had only one to add, though, I think it would probably be Le Samourai.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. Of the five movies nominated, Two for the Road is the one that I genuinely disliked a great deal. I found the characters unlikeable. More than that, I found no clear reason for our two main characters to be a couple since they are not merely different but diametrically opposed to each other. I get that at this time, a big part of the movies was them functioning as a travelogue. The scenery here is pretty, but that has nothing to do with the screenplay. The people and story propped in front of that scenery are miserable.

4. The most difficult decision I had this week was deciding between third and fourth place. Both of the movies I want to put here commit a huge sin, so my decision was which of those two sins was bigger. I decided on Divorce, American Style as having the bigger problem. That problem is that it desperately wants a particular ending, so it gives us the ending it wants despite the fact that it clearly doesn’t earn that ending. A movie with a bad ending is going to be remembered as a bad movie, and so this is why I’m putting this movie here.

3. The screenplay sin committed by La Guerre est Finie is that it’s more or less dull. It’s a story that has a great deal of potential and it doesn’t do a lot with it. Instead, we watch someone do a lot of thinking. It also doesn’t help me that I don’t have a great deal of feeling one way or the other about the Spanish Civil War. Perhaps if I did I would find this movie more interesting, but I don’t, and so there’s not a lot here to move me. Admittedly, that fault may well lie within me rather than in the movie. I have to live with that possibility.

2. I think it’s a good indication of just how weak this year and category are that I’m putting Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner in second place. The fact that this won is similarly indicative of the weakness of this category in 1967. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this movie except for the fact that it hasn’t aged very well. That’s not specifically the film’s fault, and in 1967, this was very much a hot topic film and one worthy of a great deal of discussion. Today, though, this is a pretty bland movie about a non-issue. It get why it won, but it hasn’t held up.

My Choice

1. There’s only one clear winner for this category, at least for a modern audience, and that’s Bonnie and Clyde. There is a sense when watching this movie that we are seeing Hollywood movie into the modern era, or at least out of the classic era, and had this been released a year or two later, it might well have won a lot more awards. It was a little too new and a little too scary for a lot of Hollywood. If this award was given five years later, I don’t have any doubt that it goes to the right movie.

Final Analysis


  1. I agree with you that Bonnie & Clyde should've won. I'm with you on The Young Girls of Rochefort and Le Samourai while I'm not sure I would put either 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her or Weekend (which was the better of the 2 films from 1967 that I've seen from Godard so far) since Godard was moving away from scripted narratives at that time. I would've put some consideration for Peppermint Frappe by Carlos Saura and maybe Jacques Tati's Playtime though I personally would've chosen it for Best Film and Best Director rather than for its script.

    1. I like Playtime and thought a great deal about putting it here, but I think I ultimately would prefer to have it in the categories you've placed it in.

      We'll disagree on the Godard from 1967. I'm nothing like a Godard apologist, and while I like both films, I like the story of 2 or 3 Things more.

      Peppermint Frappe is one I don't know.

      Regardless of all of this, Bonnie and Clyde is still my pick.

  2. Do you know if Firemen's Ball was adapted or original screenplay? If the later it should warrant a nomination.
    By the way, I get the feeling that your spam filter eats the comments I send you on older posts. Not that they are particularly good comments, but I have a feeling you will find a pile from me if you had a look in the spam box.

    1. Fireman's Ball is apparently based on a story, so yet another film to add to a packed year in that category.

      I have things set up to not post on things older than a week--I have to approve them. I've been swamped with work the past month or so, so I'm a bit behind in that. Give me a couple more days and they'll appear.