Monday, 7 January 2013

More than words; or, Parsing through the screenplays

Each year persons will contend that a good screenplay is not necessarily about the dialogue (which is true). Yet, when it’s time to criticise any screenplay for its deficiencies it’s always an out of context line that’s extracted as proof of how “terrible” a script is.
But, that’s how it goes. On to the predictions.

I really can’t say why I take so much pleasure in doubting the consensus when it comes to Oscar prediction. I just always have this inclination that surprises will occur. And even as this year stakes are arguably higher with the competition Shane is holding I still prefer to predict with the high possibility of wrongness than stick to the script. This, is perhaps, the first in a line of reasons I shouldn’t be making legitimate Oscar predictions.

But, here goes.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

I don’t want to predict Life of Pi here. Really, I don’t. The entire Life of Pi narrative befuddles. But, truthfully, this entire Oscar season seems so poise to spiral out into an unusual yarn. But, then it could very end up petering out with a mundane finale. On one hand (and it’s not just the muted buzz) I feel that Life of Pi isn’t ferociously story focused as so many other options in the waiting, but as I peruse the potential options for the category there are strong arguments to make against them entering the line-up either. There are some years when it’s just a slate of Picture hopefuls, and then others when the nominees would never make it even with a widened picture slot – and that happens in either writing category.

Ultimately my predictions in both categories come down to mere feelings of my gut

PREDICTIONS (alpha): Argo (Chris Terrio); Life of Pi (David Magee); Lincoln (Tony Kushner); The Sessions (Ben Lewin); Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

ALTERNATES (by probability): Anna Karenina (Tom Stoppard) ; The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Steven Chbosky); Les Misérables (William Nicholson); Beasts of the Southern Wild (Lucy Alibar, Ben Zietlin)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

PREDICTIONS (alpha): Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino); Looper (Rian Johnson); The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson); Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola); Zero Dark Thirty (Mark Boal)

ALTERNATES (by probability): The Impossible (Sergio G. Sanchez); Amour (Michael Haneke); Flight (John Gatins)

I suspect much of it is based on my personal opinion (always a bad thing in predicting) but I feel even if he might not make the ballot Tom Stoppard’s work on Anna Karenina is surely not an impossibility. Even more than Stoppard I feel that Lewin’s work on The Sessions is the type of emphatically, sincerely drawn script that could be a surprise – in the same way The Impossible could always be a surprise.

I feel less certain of the safeness of Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour, especially because I feel uncertain about their general chances in many races (PGA nod and all for the former and critical love for the latter). Les Misérables is in a problematic spot because musicals generally don’t receive much appreciation here (only two have won, and both in the fifties) – not even Cabaret, a very script driven piece. The sung-through aspect makes it even more of an uphill climb.

There’s always the feeling that – in the end – trying to justify your predictions becomes difficult when prediction itself is based on guess-work. I could see my ballots happening, and then I can see them so easily unturned. I can see an unusual original ballot like 2003 and an adapted one like 2006. Or it could just be a series of the usual suspects like 2009. Are we underestimating Brave? I suspect not. Could The Intouchables be that surprise foreign language nominee. I say no….but…

Who knows what’s the writing on the wall.

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