Monday, November 4, 2019

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Original Screenplay 2005

The Contenders:

Crash (winner)
Good Night and Good Luck
Match Point
The Squid and the Whale

What’s Missing

It’s a rare year when I don’t want to make some significant changes on the list of nominations, but I have to say that for this award and this year, Oscar didn’t do too badly. The movies I’d want to add are generally the type that don’t get a lot of Oscar love. These include movies like The Descent, which is short on plot and long on genuine scares. Movies like Paradise Now and Cache are difficult and perhaps morally ambiguous, which Oscar doesn’t do well. The same could be said of Hard Candy, although it’s a big miss for Oscar in this case—it’s probably the one I’d most want to see added. Transamerica would have been an interesting selection, as would Corpse Bride, almost certainly ignored by virtue of its animated nature. I should also mention Brick. I wouldn’t include it, but since everyone seems to like it more than I do, I know it will end up in the comments if I don’t put it here.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. It’s easy to bag on Crash. In fact, complaining about the Oscars that Crash won is something of a cottage industry. Everyone likes to hate on this movie, and it’s kind of unfair. Truthfully, it is the screenplay I’d remove for Hard Candy given half a chance and it’s true that it’s my least favorite of the five nominations for Best Picture. But it’s not the travesty everyone thinks it is. It’s not a bad movie; it’s just not nearly as good as the Academy seemed to think it was, or at least not as good as its awards.

4. I think Syriana is a pretty good movie, but it’s also a polarizing movie, and that’s a real potential problem. It’s also a confusing movie, at least for the first half hour or so. I like it, but I’m kind of programmed to like it, and I’m not sure it’s as good as I want it to be. It’s not a bad movie, but the biggest problems I have with the movie are in the screenplay. That’s always going to be an issue when the award we are talking about is for the screenplay. Again, it’s fine; it’s just not the movie that’s going to win.

3. It’s difficult for me, right now, to want to put a great deal of praise on Woody Allen, but Match Point is a very good movie, and its screenplay is one of the best aspects of it. I like how angry it is, even as I think that it’s an odd change from Allen’s typical fare. Even his dramas tend not to be this vicious. I wouldn’t want to see movies like this a lot, but I found it interesting and surprising in a good way. So why is it in third? Because I’m more impressed with the other two nominations. No other reason.

2. I don’t know that I’m capable of saying that I enjoyed The Squid and the Whale, but I am duly impressed by it. Years ago, my parents went through a very ugly and drawn-out divorce. I’ve seen a lot of movies about divorce and involving divorced couples, but none have affected me as strongly as this one. I felt this movie at a very real level, in a way that I rarely do with this type of film. So, while I can’t honestly say that the experience was a positive or happy one, I can’t hide the fact that this is incredibly effective as a screenplay.

My Choice

1. If you’ve read much of this blog concerning 2005, this is not going to be a surprise. Good Night and Good Luck is almost certainly my favorite movie from 2005, or at least my favorite “Oscar” movie from this year. I like everything about it, and while decisions like filming in black-and-white don’t affect the screenplay, the screenplay does seem to affect decisions like that one. This is a smart movie, one that doesn’t pull a lot of punches, and one that asks some difficult questions. It’s not perfect, but it’s in that direction. It’s my winner.

Final Analysis


  1. The Oscars were so fucking wrong on that one. Yes, it should've gone to either Good Night and Good Luck or The Squid and the Whale. I would've made consideration for Brick, Hustle & Flow, and L'Enfant. There were so many great films that year.

    1. Everyone likes Brick more than I do, which I suppose is fair. I didn't love (nor hate) Hustle & Flow, so it really didn't cross my radar for this. L'Enfant is one I don't know.

      It was a good year.

  2. Oh God I completely forgot Crash actually won that award. One of the most embarrassing things the Academy has done, but not even the most embarrassing that year

    1. I don't hate Crash the way everyone else seems to, but it had no business being in the running for most of these awards.