Friday, January 12, 2024

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Original Screenplay 2022

The Contenders:

The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once (winner)
The Fabelmans
Triangle of Sadness

What’s Missing

I’m not always looking too far in the future when it comes to this blog, but last year I was dedicated in getting though as many 2022 movies as I could in anticipation of these posts. There were a lot of interesting original screenplays from this year, many of which would never come close to an Oscar nomination. Many of these--Dual, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Men, Hatching, Talk to Me, and Sissy, for instance, don’t really deserve to be in the conversation, although Sissy is pretty close. Andy Mitton’s film The Harbinger feels like one of the first truly pandemic-inspired films I’ve seen, and it was notable for that reason. I was a little surprised that the early hype on The Northman didn’t carry all the way to award season. The Woman King’s absence was perhaps a bigger surprise. Single nominees Aftersun and To Leslie would have been interesting additions to this category. Films like Crimes of the Future, Flux Gourmet, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent were probably too weird to show up on Oscar’s radar. Emily the Criminal deserved some attention. The big miss, though—and you’ll be hearing a lot of this over the next few weeks, is The Menu.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. I frequently say that these posts are not a celebration of Oscar, but a reckoning, and the Academy’s love of TÁR is at least a part of what I mean. There’s nothing specifically wrong with the film, but there’s also nothing particularly special about the screenplay. It’s good, but with the wealth of interesting screenplays from this year available as nominations, there’s no good reason it should be here, other than the fact that the Academy decided that it was one of the films that was going to net a ton of nominations. This instead of The Menu? Really

4. I was torn about what to put last, and the film that could have just as easily been in last place was The Fabelmans. The reason for that is exactly the same. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this film, but at least for me, there’s also nothing inherently interesting about it beyond what it is. It’s also at least 30 minutes longer than it needs to be for the story it tells, and that seems to be a problem both with the director’s choices (sorry, Spielberg), and with the screenplay that informs those choices. Did we really need 150 minutes about what is ultimately a pretty standard divorce story?

3. Given an open field and the ability to pick my own series of five nominations, the remaining three would at least be in the conversation. My putting The Banshees of Inisherin in third is no knock against that film or the very interesting screenplay. It’s instead a comment on just how good I think the other two screenplays are. The reason I’m putting this third is that of the three remaining nominations, this is the one that is the least ambitious in many ways. The story is quite simple compared with the other two. That’s not always a bad thing, of course, but ambition does factor in to how I look at these awards.

2. Picking a winner was not easy for me in this case, since I think either of the final two nominations would make a solid winner. I’m putting Triangle of Sadness in second specifically because the position of this blog has always been that the tie goes to the Academy. This screenplay is as much a middle finger to the 1% of the 1% as The Menu, and in many ways, this condemnation is much more brutal. This is ambitious and interesting, and also politically aware and risky. I’m genuinely surprised that FOX News didn’t try to organize a boycott against it, or that right-wing organizations didn’t create endless podcasts about how terrible it was.

My Choice

1. This is a rare case where the Academy picked the right screenplay and probably picked it for the right reasons. It’s not only a beautifully written screenplay that approaches a familiar topic in a new way, it does so with the kind of ambition that usually relegates a film like this to being interesting, but not fulfilling its promise. Everything Everywhere All at Once absolutely fulfills its promise. In a completely open field, this would compete with Triangle of Sadness and The Menu for my vote, but the Academy wins the ties, and in this case, I’m not going to complain too much about the Academy’s choice.

Final Analysis


  1. With the exception of Everything Everywhere All at Once, I haven't seen the other picks though I'm sure there's so may films that got overlooked in the screenplay nomination though the Oscars weren't wrong with this pick. I loved the film though my mom thought it was OK. It wasn't her thing.

    1. Triangle of Sadness is a 10-foot high middle finger to the 1%, and I'm absolutely here for it. The Banshees of Inisherin is great (my opinion), but I know some people who really disliked it. It's a small story, but it's a small story beautifully told.

      As far as I'm concerned, the other two are not required viewing.