Oscar Breakdown: Best Original and Adapted Screenplays

Best Adapted Screenplay

Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, District 9

It’s great to see genre films represented here, and I’m extremely pleased the Academy chose this over Avatar. I think the nomination is just enough recognition for a script that mixes science fiction, social and political commentary, and exploding space bugs. It’s greatest achievement though is in creating an unlikable character who only earns our sympathy in the final scenes.

Nick Hornby, An Education

I get it. Carey Mulligan is cute, bright, and appears to be a good actress. But the movie is instantly forgettable beyond her. The normally reliable Peter Sarsgaard fumbles a bit with the British accent and the tone of the film seems a bit unsteady between coming of age drama and comedy. Hornby’s script isn’t to blame for those two things, but it also doesn’t get credit for Mulligan… so what’s really left?

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, In the Loop

*Should Win!* Even allowing for some improvisation, this script features some of the sharpest, wittiest, and flat out funniest dialogue ever committed to celluloid. The fact that it also has time to work in some incredibly clever and scathing observations on the way our governments operate makes the whole thing even more appealing. This level of satire and intelligence is seldom seen these days, and it deserves to be rewarded.

Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious

People, people, people. This is not a good movie. It’s two emotionally overwhelming performances that can’t help but stand out from melodrama layered on thicker than a threesome with Mo’nique and Oprah Winfrey. It’s easy to create villains and victims, and it’s even easier to fill your film with ugly cliches and lame platitudes. What’s not so easy is creating a movie about real people dealing honestly with real issues and making it relevant, important, and worthwhile.

Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

*Will Win!* It’s become fashionable to hate on Reitman’s latest movie for some reason, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s a smartly executed indictment of a flawed system and an equally flawed lifestyle. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record here, you walk away from the movie more impressed with the performances of George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga, then you do anything else. I for one love where the movie takes its lead character, but I credit the power of that journey as much with the actor as with the script.

So there you have it. The ten nominees for Best Screenplay, Original and Adapted. Who do you think will win? Who do you think should win?

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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