Tuesday, January 05, 2010

USC Scripters Awards Ignores Its Programming, Loves the Prawns

Here's how the USC Scripters, an annual book-to-screen honors organization describes itself on their own website
Established in 1988, the USC Libraries Scripter Award is an honor bestowed annually by the Friends of the USC Libraries in recognition of the best film adaptation of a book or novella, and is given to both the author and screenwriter. By honoring the literary artistry and collaborative process of turning a book into a screenplay and ultimately into a film, this unique award acknowledges the full spectrum of the writers' creative process.
<--- [drawing source]

So... yeah.

So I'm not sure how District 9 was even eligible, since it's based on a short film, but these 'Library Friends' went there anyway. Are they also experiencing inexplicable cravings for catfood?!?

Their nominees:
  • Crazy Heart
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • Precious
  • Up in the Air
Crazy Heart and District 9 sure are picking up last minute awards steam, aren't they? I'm happy for District 9 even if it isn't one of my "favorites" just because it's such a nontraditional choice for awards season glory and more thinking outside the box is always good. This could well be the Oscar Adapted Screenplay list, too, although there's a number of other possibilities: Invictus, In the Loop, Where the Wild Things Are (I realize that's just me dreaming... but seriously, how hard must that have been to adapt?!), The Road, The Informant!, A Single Man and though I doubt it's happening now I suppose a posthumous nod for Anthony Minghella on Nine would occur to at least some voters.

The Crazy Heart case makes me a little befuddled, too. It made Kate Winslet "come undone" but it didn't do much for me at all apart from Bridges and the music (both wonderful). I'm not sure what people are seeing in it otherwise. Or are two elements enough to make a movie one of the year's bests? I saw something overly familiar and repetitive when I looked at it. But I should stop resenting it* pronto and just love that they're finally going to get around to honoring my Jeff Bridges.

*I can't help it. I'm wired to resent those naked "we couldn't commit but now we're releasing it at the last second because we think we might be able to win an Oscar" releases. They just reinforce all the bad patterns of the Oscar circus and the studio mandated film ghettos.


Robert Hamer said...

That's what I'm doing, friend, unless Clooney fucks it up for our Jeff.

I'm mostly appalled at the snub of perhaps the wittiest screenplay ever written for an animated movie, Fantastic Mr. Fox. God, I love that movie.

Danny King said...

I completely agree with you in terms of Crazy Heart. Bridges made the film watchable from start to finish, but the story was very predictable and not enough risks were taken. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that it was a first time writer/director. He struggled maintaining a consistent tone throughout. It jumped around from dark to inspiring too many times to be fully believable.

adam k. said...

The Fantastic Mr. Fox snub might be telling here... it was eligible, right? I think it will be nominated anyway, since it arguably has even more screenplay precursor citings than Up, which everyone is taking as a given.

Also Nat, you know Bright Star is adapted now, right? I think it'll get a spot. Everyone is saying "now it has no chance!" but it had no chance in original. Adapted has 2 spots up for grabs. When Before Sunset and Syriana inexplicably shifted categories, it earned them nominations. I think this is just the writers branch trying to accommodate everything.

I say it's Up in the Air, Precious, Education, Fox and Bright Star, with D9 as a likely spoiler. I actually wouldn't be shocked if An Education got a surprise snub - it's lost a lot of steam - but I wouldn't go so far as to predict it.

RJ said...

I agree about Crazy Heart. I have a weird resentment towards it that I cannot explain other than the fact that it popped out of nowhere.

Robert Hamer said...

I can explain it, RJ: It's a film obviously built from the ground up as Oscar bait and it steals from older, better movies.

Evan said...

Well, I loved Crazy Heart. I know it's a story that's been told before--addiction and making the decision to become sober-- but I thought it was well-done.

I also think it's less Oscar bait and more a niche film, particularly for lovers of country music. It's liable to leave a lot of country fans sitting in the audience just like Bad Blake's smitten audiences in the Southwest.

I do agree though that its biggest strength is Jeff Bridges's performance.

Glenn Dunks said...

I sooo hope Fantastic Mr Fox gets nominated. That screenplay was a pure delight. And Adam's right, Adapted has less obvious contenders so I think a surprise or two could be in store. Inr egards to Bright Star it could have voters go "oh, it's adapted? I might put that on there instead" or something. I dunno.

They changed the rules btw to allow scrips based on SCREENPLAYS, hence District 9 - looking better and better for a BP nod isn't it? - qualified.

adam k. said...

Well it worked when Syriana and Before Sunset did it. So I think Bright Star's chances are good.

Sunset in particular is a good parallel. And even more ridiculous in terms of the categorization.

I'm mostly just happy this means Julie & Julia is safely out of contention (though a WGA nod is still quite possible).

I'd be fine with noms for An Education, Up in the Air, Precious, Bright Star, Fantastic Mr. Fox, District 9 and/or A Single Man.

But I'd applaud an unexpected Education snub. There was nothing particularly special about that script.

adam k. said...

I actually liked A Single Man, regardless of what Nat and Nick think.

It's refreshing, actually, to have a strong difference of opinion, when I normally find myself in lockstep with Nat.

Kyle said...

Adam -
I also very much liked A Single Man, it definitely clears top 5 of the year status for me.

Sebastian said...

"Bright Star" is going adapted now too. Not that it has a shot at anything really, but I wanted to get that out there.

I think it's awesome that "Distict 9" is getting the attention that it's getting, and if that could translate into a BP nomination next month, I'd be over the moon happy for it.

NoNo said...

I think there was a conflict of interest with Crazy Heart because one of the producers (composer as well) is a part of the committee.

I'm not really excited about seeing that movie. The Wrestler seems like everything it wants to be and more last year.

Ryan T. said...

Really happy for District 9. So many people are now thinking "maybe Best Picture!" and I don't want to go there yet because like you said it's such an out-of-the-box choice. I mean how many of the Academy members would actually feel compelled to see it this sci-fi film especially since it's not as flashy and pretty as other sci-fi films they're going to have to see.

But I do hope enough of them do watch it and for it to AT LEAST get an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Picture and even Director nominations I'm not expecting, but would be superbly fantastic if it happens.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Non-related news:

Sam Mendes is really going to direct the new James Bond movie? Is it a good move for him?


Jorge Rodrigues said...

Now talking about the post...

I don't think District 9 will be nominated. I think everyone is undermining The Road's chances in a lot of categories and my guess is that it will surprise everyone.

The Road IS a Cormac McCarthy novel after all and it is very good.

Also, I think they'll want to reward Where The Wild Things Are somewhere and since it has no place in major categories, this would be a great place to honor the amazing film.

My predicted nominees for Adapted Screenplay:

- An Education
- Precious
- The Road
- Up in the Air
- Where The Wild Things Are

Jorge Rodrigues said...

And about the Best Picture race...

I know everyone is wishful-thinking this year because of the 10 nominees thing but let's be clear...

The Academy only changed the number of nominees, not their tastes. And the president. The president also changed. But not the members.

So how come every major Oscarologist is predicting stuff like Julie and Julia, It's Complicated, The Hangover and 500 Days of Summer (Comedies), Star Trek and District 9 (Sci-Fi, hardly Academy's cup of tea - Avatar is an exception because of, well, the magnitude of the film + James Cameron + box office + worldwide admiration + visual effects astonishingly good) and even Where The Wild Things Are to appear?

Academy likes war (The Messenger), Apocalypse(The Road), grief (The Lovely Bones) and stars (Nine). Do we need to remember the The Dark Knight-WallE/The Reader-FrostNixon incident from last year?

Did they go with the art and crafty and critically acclaimed Wall-E and The Dark Knight or did they prefer the heavy, Holocaust/political-themed, minor hits in the likes of The Reader and Frost-Nixon? Yeah.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

I'd love if District 9 would be nominated for a few categories, but I just can't see it happening.

Like I said, I have a feeling that we will see The Road and The Messenger surprising us all (I'm counting out Bright Star because of its morbid condition with the critics, not even one recognised what a great film it really is)

Kyle said...

Was "The Reader" even a minor hit? It was in and out of theaters so fast here in Atlanta, it almost felt like a "Direct to DVD".


Kyle... The Reader mad $34 million which is a pretty decent tally for a period drama that's action free these days.

The biggest duds (box office wise) in recent years at the Oscars have been:

"Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Frost/Nixon" which both failed to make $20 million

gabrieloak said...

I feel like I've already seen Crazy Heart and I haven't yet.

The only other person I'd like to see take home an Oscar is Colin Firth (I'm hoping he wins the BAFTA). Yeah, I liked the film, too.

gabrieloak said...

Adam K--I'm not sure animated films are eligible for the Scripter.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's fair that you hold the release date circus against 'Crazy Heart.' Shouldn't a film be judged based on its merits alone and not on any circumstances off the screen or behind the scenes? How is that any different from holding a film in higher regard because of its year-end release? (I know that's a practice you deeply resent. But what you're doing is no better.) A film is a film-- not an amalgam of studio politics. A few years from now, the film's Oscar push will dissipate from the collective conscience. Will you still be holding a grudge?