Best Screenplay 1977

1927/28 through 1997

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 1977?

Annie Hall (Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman)
21
48%
The Goodbye Girl (Neil Simon)
1
2%
The Late Show (Robert Benton)
1
2%
Star Wars (George Lucas)
0
No votes
The Turning Point (Arthur Laurents)
0
No votes
Equus(Peter Shaffer)
2
5%
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (Gavin Lambert and Lewis John Carlino)
1
2%
Julia (Alvin Sargent)
10
23%
Oh, God! (Larry Gelbart)
1
2%
That Obscure Object of Desire (Luis Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carriere)
7
16%
 
Total votes: 44

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4167
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby The Original BJ » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:25 pm

On the Adapted side...

It's possible that time has simply dated the movie badly, but I found I Never Promised You a Rose Garden virtually impossible to take seriously. There are some affecting moments in the Quinlan/Andersson therapy scenes, but too much of the psych ward stuff plays like bad community theater, and the fantasy sequences are just grisly.

Equus immediately loses points for being a filmed play, but it's not even an especially imaginative transfer -- there had to be a better way to adapt the material than to rely on so many Burton direct-to-camera monologues. But even a better version still likely would have been sunk by the inherent reductiveness of the story -- I have a real low tolerance for narratives that climax with "and this is the one event that made him the way he is."

Oh, God! has an amusing premise, and isn't without laughs. But it just doesn't take its story in an outrageous enough direction to be as clever as it thinks it is. I'd love to have seen where the Charlie Kaufman version of this concept might have ended up; here, Larry Gelbart keeps the narrative much more grounded, to a fault.

Julia is a perfectly solid winner, despite being more of a throwback to classical filmmaking of an earlier era rather than anything bracing. But there's some very well-written scenes throughout, beginning with Fonda and Robards on the beach, and of course reaching a peak in the Fonda-Redgrave restaurant encounter. And though the plot takes a bit of time to coalesce, once Hellman's mission kicks in, it becomes quite an engaging narrative.

But I went with That Obscure Object of Desire, though I'd actually agree it's not quite in Buñuel's top tier of achievements. I find the movie more interesting as an intellectual exercise than a fully resonant piece of dramatic storytelling. But sometimes innovation is worth honoring for its own sake, and even beyond the casting stunt, the underlying material is a compelling blend of ideas about romance, politics, and religion, whipped together with surrealist flourishes. Its originality tips it over the top for me.

Kellens101
Temp
Posts: 333
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2015 9:47 am

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Kellens101 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:52 pm

I like 3 Women a lot. It's definitely not up to the level of some of Altman's other masterpieces, but it's still a creepy, haunting and darkly funny surrealist 70's nightmare. Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall were fantastic and sorely deserved nominations. I understand the film was a bit too weird and unsettling for the Academy, but on my personal list, I would've nominated it for Picture, Director, Actress for Duvall and Spacek, Original Screenplay and Score.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4167
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:32 pm

My alts in the Original race would be the exact ones Mister Tee cited -- Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 3 Women, and New York, New York. All three films are stronger directorial achievements than scripted ones, but I still found the level of originality in the writing to be high enough to merit recognition, especially given some of the actual turgid nominees.

I'm with Mister Tee in finding The Turning Point pretty atrocious, for all of the reasons he cites. The dialogue is almost laughably on-the-nose, with all of the characters explaining their feelings in as clunky a manner as possible. And it's not like the plot is any great shakes either -- I find it amazing that anyone in the context of the '70's could have embraced such a retro throwback, and a drearily executed one at that, to the degree that Oscar did.

The Goodbye Girl feels like Neil Simon's gazillionth retread of The Odd Couple formula. The fact that, this time, it was a man and a woman, did very little to quell the innate staleness of the material for me. And there was a whole lot of obnoxiousness on display, starting with that annoying child, but also the grating nature of the romance between Dreyfuss and Mason's characters. At least the Redford/Fonda relationship in Barefoot in the Park -- which was basically yet another version of this exact same story -- had its charms. I felt this was a comedy that really strained for its laughs.

I like the tone of The Late Show, the way Art Carney's 40's-era gumshoe is thrown into a partnership with Lily Tomlin's 70's-era hippie, and how the script balances its noir vibe with great bursts of humor. I also think there's a lot of good dialogue, and again, it's both hard boiled and delightfully loopy. But I was bit let down by the plot, which is both too convoluted and too simple, or to put it another way, it has way too complicated a narrative for material that's pretty mundane blackmail-and-affairs stuff.

Star Wars is a movie that has permeated the culture to such an outlandish degree that it's almost impossible to come at it with any objectivity when you saw it as I did, decades after its release, as a kid getting into movies. It's one of the films hugely responsible for my cinephilia, and that impact is hard to shake. But seeing it again in college, I concluded that at least this first installment is still great fun, with a rollicking adventure plot, hugely iconic characters, and a line like "May the force be with you" that has become about as famous a cultural catchphrase as the movies have ever produced. None of this makes the movie a deep or nuanced bit of writing -- of all of Star Wars's nominations, this is the category where I'd be LEAST likely to choose it -- but I'm happy to appreciate it for what it is, and that's a very entertaining adventure flick.

But of course I join the blow-out consensus in choosing Annie Hall as the year's best piece of writing, and for my money, it's the best and funniest script Woody Allen ever wrote. There's just so much endless imagination throughout the film, with subtitles, split screens, that animated sequence, the McLuhan moment Mister Tee mentions, etc. This was, unsurprisingly, one of the first Woody Allen films I saw, and its entire sense of humor and stylistic inventions just felt like nothing I'd ever seen before. Or, should I say, HEARD before, given that so much of the films laughs were due to that absolutely delicious dialogue ("Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week." / "Constantly, I'd say three times a week"). And, on top of all of those laughs, it was also a deeply resonant film as well; Alvy and Annie are just so delightful together throughout the film's running time, that by the end of the movie, when they go their separate ways, it's hard not to feel utterly heartbroken for the love that just didn't work out. Annie Hall is a glittering jewel of a script, one of the best and richest comedies ever, and the clear winner here.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15618
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:49 am

The Original BJ wrote:Please enable re-voting.

Sorry, I thought I had already done that, but I guess not. It's been accomplished now.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

CalWilliam
Temp
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:35 pm
Location: Principality of Asturias, Spain

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby CalWilliam » Mon Apr 27, 2015 4:06 am

Mister Tee wrote:
But I’ll go with Julia, one of the year’s better movies, even if one a bit old-fashioned for the time. As discussed in the best picture thread: I think the film starts a bit haphazardly; for a while, I wasn’t sure where the story’s present tense was.


Yes, but I believe that's the way our memory operates when we try to evocate some facts or some people of our lives that we deeply loved or that were some kind of turning point (sorry for mention it), and I think of that as an utterly inteligent and beautiful resource instead of a flaw. God, I'm fascinated by this film.
Last edited by CalWilliam on Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light". - Dylan Thomas

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4167
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Apr 27, 2015 12:19 am

Please enable re-voting.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6396
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Apr 26, 2015 11:59 pm

The first weak year of the 70s, and the nominations reflect it.

Over on the original side, 3 Women (at least the first 2/3 of it) would have made a good nominee. And, though I have problems with some of the Cassavettes-like improv-ed arguments, I prefer New York, New York to some of those actually slated. (Close Encounters, my favorite film of the year, was such an obvious case of directing-over-script that I don’t lament its absence.)

I feel like I’ve whipped The Turning Point enough around here that there’s no need for much rehash. A dreary story made worse by numbingly literal dialogue, where characters speak their subtext aloud on a regular basis. The year’s worst writing nominee (no mean achievement in 1977).

To more or less echo BJ from 1978: I liked Neil Simon well enough when all he was trying to do was make people laugh; Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple were, back in the day, exceedingly funny in their minor ways. Once, however, Simon got the notion that he understood the human condition, he revealed an essential mediocrity. The Goodbye Girl doesn’t go all the way into Simon Seriousness – that would wait for the execrable Only When I Laugh, and continue for a decade or more – but it does lose the plot after a modestly promising opening half hour. I find the best picture nod more offensive than the screenplay one, but neither do the Academy proud.

I’m on the record as an unenthusiast of Star Wars, but, even were I more favorably disposed toward it, I’d hardly salute it as a writing achievement.

The Late Show has virtues – a melancholy tone, a sly update of 40s noir into the late 70s (less facetious than what Altman did in The Long Goodbye), and a wonderful central performance from Art Carney. But somehow the film felt a bit less to me than what I hoped it could be (and what many critics had promised). It’s a nice enough piece of work, but decidedly minor.

Anyway, as we all know, Annie Hall ran ahead of this field the way Secretariat outpaced his Belmont competitors. It was Woody Allen’s massive critical breakthrough – proof positive he had more in him than verbal/slapstick comedy – and a love story that felt absolutely of the moment in 1977. Many of the film’s greatest moments (Marshall McLuhan at the New Yorker theatre, the twin therapy sessions, the subtitles under the balcony conversation) are so famous/overshown they may not feel quite as fresh today. But I think the bittersweet “a love has ended, and there’s nothing to be done” subject matter holds up beautifully. An easy choice, then and now.

Although the rules for such things are flexible, I’m pretty sure Saturday Night Fever was acknowledgedly based on a New York Magazine cover story “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”, and thus would fall into the adapted category, where it’s superior to more than one actual nominee. So, too, is Short Eyes, Miguel Pinero’s adaptation of his NY stage success (the film has pretty much disappeared from sight – too bad, as it includes a wonderful performance from Bruce Davison) And Semi-Tough, though totally different from (and not as lively as) its source novel, is clever enough.

I never thought Equus was the major play critics did, but I enjoyed it enough on stage, especially for its theatrical staging. On screen, though, it sat there like dead mackerel. Most of this was Sidney Lumet’s fault, of course – having Burton declaim those monologues in tight close-up was a blunder that made the writing seem more awful than it was. But, in the end, the screenplay goes down with the rest of the ship, and didn’t rate this nomination.

Oh, God!, for those who weren’t around, is another example of a movie that became an unexpected box-office success (largely thanks to George Burns, in the wake of his Oscar), and picked up a writers’ branch nomination in a lackluster category – which is to say, the forerunner of Beverly Hills Cop and Crocodile Dundee. I only watched the movie on TV one night, and my memory of it is fairly dim…but strong enough to know I have no intention of voting for it here.

People here seem to REALLY hate I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. It’s nearly 40 years since I saw it, and it’s not like I thought it any more than mediocre then (I did prefer it to the novel, which I never managed to finish). Maybe the fact it’s been followed by so many imitators (like Girl, Interrupted) diminishes it. Or maybe it looked (relatively) better in the grisly summer of 1977. In any event: I’m certainly not voting for it, but I can’t work up loathing for it.

I could pick up classy-taste points by selecting That Obscure Object of Desire, and it wouldn’t be a bad choice, certainly in this group. But I can’t say I loved the film. There are numerous occasions on which I might have voted Bunuel in this category – The Exterminating Angel, Belle de Jour, Tristana, maybe even Virdiana – but (spoiler alert for a later contest) the two times he managed nominations I didn’t respond to the work as enthusiastically. My fading memory of Obscure Object was of an interesting film but not quite an exceptional one.

But I’ll go with Julia, one of the year’s better movies, even if one a bit old-fashioned for the time. As discussed in the best picture thread: I think the film starts a bit haphazardly; for a while, I wasn’t sure where the story’s present tense was. But once the central anecdote, of Hellman smuggling the hat, kicks in, the films gels beautifully, culminating in that restaurant encounter between Fonda and Redgrave that is one of the great two-actress face-offs in all English-language cinema. This is a worthy winner, and lets me match the Academy’s two choices for the first time in a while.
Last edited by Mister Tee on Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ITALIANO
Emeritus
Posts: 3955
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:58 pm
Location: MILAN
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:22 am

Original obviously belongs to Annie Hall, the first "mature" Woody Allen movie, but also the kind of urgent, fresh portrayal of contemporary society and contemporary male-female relationships that American cinema doesn't seem to give us anymore (just compare this to, say, Silver Linings Playbook). Allen would write even better scripts in the following years, but Annie Hall is still I think one of his best, and not just historically important. Of the others, let me at least mention The Late Show, which is I believe too quickly dismissed here - I saw it decades ago, but I remember it as as an intelligent, low-key thriller and character study, easily my second choice from these five.

I won't vote in Adapted because I haven't seen I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, and I am, in a way, glad that I won't. Because how can you choose between Julia and That Obscure Object of Desire? Julia is a classically well-written screenplay - one feels that it was a work of love and dedication, and of sincere admiration (too much, even) for the original source. Plus, while the direction of the movie is quite traditional, the screenplay itself, with its fashbacks, flashbacks within flashbacks, flash-forwards, dream sequences, is more complex than it can seem. But That Obscure Object of Desire is a work of European art, an endlessly fascinating study of love and obsession. We should just be grateful when we find two movies like these in the same category - still, picking one isn't easy.

CalWilliam
Temp
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:35 pm
Location: Principality of Asturias, Spain

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby CalWilliam » Fri Apr 24, 2015 1:30 pm

OK, thank you, Big Magilla and Precious.
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light". - Dylan Thomas

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15618
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:44 am

I have the DVD though I don't know if I ever watched the whole thing. I found Kathleen Quinlan totally annoying even in the brief bit at the end when I played it just now to look for Mel. No Mel, no Dennis Quaid in the last chapter, so I played the next to last chapter and caught the baseball game in which Quaid is the pitcher and Clint Howard (Ron's brother) is the catcher. The unbilled actor with Quaid has a face similar to Mel and speaks his one line with an Australian accent but as Precious says if it had been Mel someone would most likely have added it to his filmography by now.

We know that Mel was born in New York but moved to Australia when he was 12 and that he made his Australian film debut in 1976 but did not make his American film debut until The River in 1984. Of course it's possible that he was visiting the U.S. during the filming of I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and got the part, but although the face may be similar the body type is not.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire

User avatar
Precious Doll
Tenured
Posts: 3300
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Precious Doll » Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:50 am

CalWilliam wrote:
Precious Doll wrote:
CalWilliam wrote:
And we land in the Adapted slate, with two dreary films, though Equus is a masterpiece in comparison to I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. The former SHOWS many good things (forgive me you all), but those Burton monologues are so stupid than I just can't find out what Lumet and Shaffer are trying to tell this time. The latter is almost lousy as a whole, like a bad TV movie, full of screaming and obvious conversations, though it's nice to see the young Dennis Quaid and Mel Gibson in that cute ending that suddenly looks like another different movie. Too bad. No consideration.



Mel Gibson?

I don't recall him in the film.


Indeed. Check again. It's him. Very hairy and very young.


I haven't seen Rose Garden since 1979, funnily enough around the same time of Mad Max and whilst I would like to revisit the film I understand the available DVDs are of sub standard.

Whilst it is always possible that it is Gibson I really doubt that it is (probably just someone who looks like him). If he had had a small role in the Rose Garden there would be some record or mention of it somewhere in the press over the last 35 years.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

CalWilliam
Temp
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:35 pm
Location: Principality of Asturias, Spain

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby CalWilliam » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:40 am

Precious Doll wrote:
CalWilliam wrote:
And we land in the Adapted slate, with two dreary films, though Equus is a masterpiece in comparison to I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. The former SHOWS many good things (forgive me you all), but those Burton monologues are so stupid than I just can't find out what Lumet and Shaffer are trying to tell this time. The latter is almost lousy as a whole, like a bad TV movie, full of screaming and obvious conversations, though it's nice to see the young Dennis Quaid and Mel Gibson in that cute ending that suddenly looks like another different movie. Too bad. No consideration.



Mel Gibson?

I don't recall him in the film.


Indeed. Check again. It's him. Very hairy and very young.
"Rage, rage against the dying of the light". - Dylan Thomas

User avatar
Precious Doll
Tenured
Posts: 3300
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:53 am

CalWilliam wrote:
And we land in the Adapted slate, with two dreary films, though Equus is a masterpiece in comparison to I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. The former SHOWS many good things (forgive me you all), but those Burton monologues are so stupid than I just can't find out what Lumet and Shaffer are trying to tell this time. The latter is almost lousy as a whole, like a bad TV movie, full of screaming and obvious conversations, though it's nice to see the young Dennis Quaid and Mel Gibson in that cute ending that suddenly looks like another different movie. Too bad. No consideration.



Mel Gibson?

I don't recall him in the film.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

User avatar
Precious Doll
Tenured
Posts: 3300
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Precious Doll » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:41 am

Original is no contest: Annie Hall.

A couple of shocking omissions are 3 Women & Providence. I'll throw in High Anxiety as well as I think it is Mel Brooks' best film to date.

I don't begrudge The Goodbye Girl (one of Simon's better works) or Star Wars their nominations but The Late Show & The Turning Point are just fillers.

Adapted was harder as I am torn between three of them. I was very happy with Julia winning and a win for That Obscure Object of Desire would also have made a worthy winner, however I went with Equus.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar is the only major omission here and I would have replaced Oh God with it.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15618
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Re: Best Screenplay 1977

Postby Big Magilla » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:09 pm

Original

I'm not going to argue against Woody this time. Nothing this year was as fresh as Annie Hall and it remains so all these years later.

I must say, however, that the competition in this category is quite good.

The Turning Point is an intelligently written women's movie, of the kind that had already been long out of fashion when the film was made. It deservedly won the WGA for Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen while Annie Hall took the Comedy award.

I don't usually like Neil Simon's comedies, but I liked The Goodbye Girl despite the obnoxious kid.

I recall The Late Show as a strong mystery, but I haven't seen it in decades so I'm fuzzy on the details, but I still remember Art Carney's performance which I thought then, as now, that he was better in this than in Harry and Tonto.

The original Star Wars had a good script and was certainly more deserving of a nomination than the WGA's other sci-fi nod to the gibberish that was Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Of the non-nominees, only Saturday Night Fever strikes me as deserving, but I wouldn't choose it over any of the actual nominees.

Adapted

I have to go with Bunuel and Jean-Claude Carriere's clever That Obscure Object of Desire, but Alvin Sargent's winning script for Julia is almost as deserving.

I would nominate Equus over I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and Oh, God! but the film is tough going.

My replacement nominations for the latter two would be WGA nominees Looking for Mr. Goodbar and Islands in the Stream. Goodbar was ruined by its move to a no-name city (a combined L.A./San Francisco mishmash) from the nitty-gritty of the Bronx and a glittery Manhattan of the day not its screenplay which was nearly as compelling as the novel.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire


Return to “The Damien Bona Memorial Oscar History Thread”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest