Best Screenplay 2010

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 2010?

Another Year (Mike Leigh)
8
17%
The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamsy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington)
1
2%
Inception (Christopher Nolan)
4
8%
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg)
8
17%
The King's Speech (David Seidler)
4
8%
127 Hours (Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy)
0
No votes
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
12
25%
True Grit (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
0
No votes
Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich)
5
10%
Winter's Bone (Debra Grank, Anne Rossellini)
6
13%
 
Total votes: 48

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby Okri » Tue Sep 09, 2014 9:40 pm

Original screenplay is just glaringly weak. It’s basically one of those years where you just ignore the English language for strong screenplays. Then I can talk about White Material or Everyone Else or Mother or Dogtooth or Terribly Happy.

Another Year is my easy choice, though. I’d defend Inception as solid pop entertainment that’s got a startlingly emotional core, but it’s not deeply thought (I remember laughing at how expository it got. Like right before the climax, Leonardo DiCaprio was still explaining shit). I think it should be television series, though. The Fighter is well textured enough. The King’s Speech is efficient and flat. The Kids are All Right is banal and flat.

Adapted screenplay is much stronger. I don’t miss anything too much – no one saw Anton Chekov’s The Duel anyway, The Ghost Writer whiffs the ending a little and Never Let Me Go doesn’t do enough to be brilliant.

I ended up voting for Winter’s Bone. The plot is gripping, it depicts a world I’m unfamiliar with and was really surprising. Toy Story 3 is a little too rote a screenplay, though there is indeed tonnes of pleasure in the storytelling. 127 Hours has one idea and while it does surprisingly well with it, it’s still very limited. True Grit is well textured enough. I think The Social Network is extremely well crafted, but Aaron Sorkin so clearly doesn’t understand the story he’s telling (Fincher et al do, which makes for a somewhat schizophrenic experience).

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby Heksagon » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:12 am

In the Original category, there no really great screenplays nominated, but all the nominees are nevertheless respectable. The Kings’s Speech has its problems (I hated the way they presented Churchill, in particular), but it’s still my choice here.

In the Adapted category, The Social Network and Toy Story 3 are easily the best of the ten nominees overall, and my preference is the former. Winter’s Bone is also a good screenplay, but I was not too impressed by either 127 Hours or True Grit which are the weakest nominees this year.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:05 pm

Among originals, I guess I'd say Black Swan is my favorite also-ran, though probably just because I like the movie so much -- given that the writing wasn't among the movie's key elements, I wasn't bothered it was excluded here either.

I can see why Another Year is winning here. If you picked Amour/A Separation in the past couple races (as many of us did), Mike Leigh is the go-to arthouse nominee this year. And, as usual with Leigh's films, there are a lot of touchingly written scenes between deeply human and flawed characters. But truthfully, I think this might be my least favorite of Leigh's Oscar-nominated scripts, mostly because I thought the last act of the movie started to really drag on, without ever seeming to land anywhere. So, though I admire a lot of the well-written moments along the way, the conclusion just feels too diffuse to me to vote for it.

I generally think David O. Russell and the actors give The Fighter most of its life, but I definitely will acknowledge that the writing has a pleasing rough-and-tumble quality to it, with a lot of unexpected humor along the way. And certainly the writers deserve credit for shading such richly detailed characters, allowing the cast to soar as high as they did. But I do think the overall structure of the movie is a bit mundane, so despite the interesting edges that brought some energy to it, I'm going to pass here too.

The King's Speech is a perfectly nice, well-written royalty movie, with some clever dialogue and an engaging and touching storyline. But it's a pretty lightweight effort, the kind of movie that people kept asking me if I thought was PHENOMENAL when all I could do was offer up a shrug. I don't strongly dislike it or anything, and certainly this was a much more appropriate place to recognize it than Best Director. But, like Mister Tee, my overall grumpiness over its awards haul isn't encouraging me to endorse its win here either.

Reactions to Inception were pretty hyperbolic, and I feel like both opposing camps only fed on energy from the other. The Internet fanboys predictably over-inflated the thing, bizarrely elevating a cool summer blockbuster to high art status -- I'd honestly wondered if anyone who compared it to a Kubrick movie had even seen one, the two were so different in nearly every respect. But I wouldn't want to dismiss what I found impressive about Inception either. It was a hugely ambitious concept, with layers upon layers of plot, and some surprising twists along the way that felt emotionally grounded even within the gimmicky nature of the movie's setup. I was happy to see a movie that was original with a capital O perform so well at the box office, and with the Academy at the level that it did. But I don't think Nolan was robbed by not winning here either.

I land with The Kids Are All Right, though I admit that it wasn't the kind of boldly original script we often have on option to choose in this category. It was a family dramedy, and it mostly fit within the parameters of what we expect those kinds of movies to do. But it did have a fresh-feeling contemporary set-up, well-drawn characters, a lot of laughs, and a narrative that went in unexpected directions. And it had more scenes that touched me deeply than any of the other nominees, namely Bening returning to dinner and trying to get through it after her discovery at Ruffalo's house, and the final sequence, which captures the mixture of excitement and heartbreak of sending kids off to college about as well as any movie ever has. Lacking any bracing literary breakthrough, Kids gets my vote.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby Sabin » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:19 am

I like The Fighter the more and more I watch it, and certainly if you're one of David O. Russell's most ardent supporters on this Board then I'm right there with you, Tee.

By the way...

MY RANKING FOR ORIGINAL...
1. ANOTHER YEAR, Mike Leigh
2. THE KING'S SPEECH, David Seidler
3. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
4. THE FIGHTER, Scott Silver, Paul Tamsy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
5. INCEPTION, Christopher Nolan


MY RANKING FOR ADAPTED...
1. WINTER'S BONE, Debra Granik & Anne Rossellini
2. THE SOCIAL NETWORK, Aaron Sorkin
3. TOY STORY 3, Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, & Lee Unkrich
4. TRUE GRIT, Joel & Ethan Coen
5. 127 HOURS, Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
Last edited by Sabin on Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby The Original BJ » Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:26 am

On the Adapted side, I'd push most strongly for Never Let Me Go, my preferred underrated effort from this year. I also think this would have been a good place to recognize The Ghost Writer, which obviously wasn't top-tier Polanski, but which had a pleasingly twisty and clever script.

I don't object to any of the actual nominees, though. 127 Hours deserves a tip of the hat towards its script -- certainly the fact that it works as well as it does despite a very limited concept is in part due to the way the writing keeps finding interesting directions to go in. Still, it's mostly a showcase for Franco and his director, and the movie's small scope causes me to look elsewhere for stronger candidates.

Winter's Bone is an engaging rural noir, with a detailed sense of place, compelling characters, and a twisty plot line that goes in some surprising directions. (Based on the opening scenes of the movie, I wouldn't at all have anticipated the story would get to the bracing scene at the lake by the movie's climax.) It's still not really my kind of movie -- a little backwoods Missouri goes a long way with me -- and despite a lot of plot, it still feels smallish. I view it more as a minor movie that pleasantly surprised me than anything major.

True Grit definitely has the Coen brothers’ stamp all over it -- I much preferred their darker, yet still oddball take on this material to the more light-hearted romp of the original version. Still, a lot of the best writing is lifted directly from the novel, and at the end of the day, it was basically a better rendition of a song I’d already heard before.

Whatever sins I held against Michael Arndt for past Oscar crimes were (mostly) forgiven here, because I think Toy Story 3 is a pretty wonderfully written script. At the time, it seemed like the latest typically awesome effort from Pixar, though given the quality drop in the writing from that studio’s films since then, looking back it seems to stand as more of a peak. I think the writing epitomizes the best of what Pixar does -- tightly wound plots, delightful characters (the Spanish language Buzz and Ken being the most inspired inventions this go-round), and huge heart, showcased most gloriously in that tear-jerking final sequence. This installment matched the quality of the earlier films far better than I ever anticipated it would.

But this is an easy vote for The Social Network. I think it just about earned its screenplay nomination after that first scene, a rapid-fire dialogue showcase that also efficiently set the movie’s wheels in motion. And the film that followed was terrifically entertaining, beautifully structured, and filled with funny and biting quips (“If you were the inventors of Facebook, you would have invented Facebook.”) Its script was also full of insight, about as small a focus as one young guy who struggled to connect with people, and as large a one as the global culture that latched on to his world-changing invention. I have been a fan of Aaron Sorkin over the years, and perhaps even more than the best episodes of The West Wing, I think The Social Network is his finest achievement. It's my pick for script of the year.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby Mister Tee » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:31 pm

On the adapted side, I'd agree that 127 Hours is the weak link (it was a feat of directing and acting, masking material barely at anecdote level). My substitution would be The Ghost Writer.

True Grit was odd, to me. I admire the craft of the writing -- you can sense the careful work that went into it -- but for me it was all in the service of a half-hearted story that barely needed to be filmed once.

I liked Toy Story 3 -- as three-quels go, it maintains quality reasonably well. But I don't see why people rate it so high as to vote it the year's best. Among other things, it was bit too structurally reminiscent of the earlier films, so, despite its killer ending, it only achieves "good", not "great".

I'm sure part of my affection for Winter's Bone is based on the "this is going to be another Frozen River" apprehension I had going in -- it was so much better than that, I may have overdone my gratitude. But I think back to the solid plotting, the noir-ish twists, the compelling dialogue...and conclude this movie really deserved its nomination.

We've done so much arguing over The Social Network I can barely summon the energy to rev it back up. I'm not a big Aaron Sorkin fan -- prior to this film, based on A Few Good Men and The American President, I rated him about in William Goldman amusing-hack territory. But he churned out an enormous amount of terrific dialogue (the first scene alone is more memorable than most scripts in toto), and, though the film has no effective way to end, it does paint a compelling picture of a certain strata of American life. My vote is recorded.

The whole original slate gets a collective shrug from me. Had it been eligible, I'd have substituted the sprawling Carlos above all; I'd also offer slots to Please Give and Blue Valentine.

I liked Another Year more than Happy Go Lucky -- which just didn't work for me at all -- but not nearly so much as Vera Drake, my favorite Leigh by far. I can see why this is a default choice for some -- the film has a tony, New Yorker fiction issue feel that's impressive. But I'll pass.

I've never got the mad rage some people have against Inception, but then I was never tempted for one moment to take it seriously. For a summer movie, it was a lark. Clever and inventive. I suppose the nomination could be justified; but a win? No.

The King's Speech aims low and hits its target about perfectly. I suppose there's nothing wrong with doing something so small/minor...but it rankles me that it's just the sort of film apt to be hyper-inflated by the Oscars (see also Driving Miss Daisy, and others too numerous to recount). So even though this is one of the better examples of piffle that's over-prized, it represents so much of what I resent in awards-giving that it gets my back up to a greater degree than it should.

The Kids Are All Right isn't conceived at a much broader level than The King's Speech, and it's not as reliable about hitting its marks. But, oddly, that makes the film somewhat more appealing to me: the messiness of it, the way things aren't perfectly resolved, gives the film a bit of breathing life that The King's Speech never achieves for me. This isn't to say Kids is anything great; it's basically a sitcom with benefits. But it's not a terrible nominee.

The Fighter was my favorite movie of this bunch -- one of my favorites on the year in fact -- so I voted for it here, even though I get Sabin's contention, that it may be the script plays better than it ought because of the ensemble work Russell gets from his ferocious actors (I'd say the same alchemy is at play in Silver Linings Playbook). Russell's films are, it's clear by now, wildly divisive here, but I'm firmly in his pro camp, and in this race where nothing jumps out as must-vote, The Fighter is where I end up.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby mlrg » Sun Jul 13, 2014 6:47 pm

voted for The Social Network by default and Inception for being a great screenplay

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby Sabin » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:19 pm

There's really only one choice in the first category. As the years go on, I've warm to Inception ever so slightly more but not because of the story. Nolan fails at crafting both a strong heist as well as a meditation on marital loss. Pick one or the other. Looper, ftw. I don't like how The King's Speech is shot or directed, but I find the screenplay to be very wiki, with no real insight into speech impediments or the ruling class. Or really anything. After watching it in a sparse theater with my sister in December, I turned to her and whispered "Well, that one's out." Shows what I know. The Fighter is enjoyable but I'm inclined to say that's more for its directing than writing. It has a live-wire energy but not much of a structure. There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen on this one, and then it feels like David O. Russell stamped his feet and ordered them all to leave -- which was probably the right call. I liked The Kids Are All Right quite a bit on my first viewing but I was left cold by the third act. I watched it again and I still found quite a bit to like about it but it just seems a bit a mess. This should have gone to Another Year, not Mike Leigh's strongest film but that almost works in its favor. It has some very strong ideas about who we surround ourselves with and why.

For Best Adapted Screenplay, it's between The Social Network and Winter's Bone for me. I'm a bit torn. I think the failings of The Social Network are a bit easier to spot but there's a crucial beat in Winter's Bone that I'm missing. It's one moment with Ree at the end where she's alone dealing with what she's just done. The Social Network doesn't have much of a third act. Very few of Aaron Sorkin's films do. They just continue onward towards conclusion. And the conclusion of The Social Network is a strong moment. Honestly, I'm not sure if The Social Network can truly be considered an adaptation. All Aaron Sorkin read was the 14-page book proposal for Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires. Mezrich never sent him the book, but he and Sorkin would get together and compare notes and information. How is that an adaptation? It's a good piece of writing but I'm not sure it belongs in this category. I'll toss my vote to Winter's Bone.

I should probably see True Grit again but I didn't have a strong positive reaction to it when I saw it. It just kind of flittered by. Toy Story 3 is impressively plotted but it lacks the wit of the previous two entries. And 127 Hours' screenplay is easily its weakest asset. I Love You Phillip Morris should have been included (although The Town would have replaced it).
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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:10 pm

Big Magilla wrote:Well, OK, you explained why you liked Another Year. I don't agree, but at least you made your case. Now if only one of the proponents of Inception would explain what I missed with that one.



I confess that I am almost afraid to read THEIR defense of that screenplay... :)

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby FilmFan720 » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:40 am

Talk about a year where my choices are completely missing from the Oscar ballot!

For Best Original Screenplay, I wouldn't have nominated any of these films...not when you have Four Lions, Carlos, Easy A and Please Give left out. The ridiculous rules of sequels, too, mean that Toy Story 3 should have been there too. Of the choices, I find The Fighter and Inception pretty mediocre films that aren't helped by their screenplays. The King's Speech is a solid film with a solid screenplay at its core, and I don't begrudge it winning here. The Kids Are All Right is my favorite of these films, but I'm using this as possibly my only chance to vote for Mike Leigh and give him the bone here. It's not my favorite of his films, but he deserves an Oscar at some point and this seems like as good a chance as any.

For Adapted Screenplay, I find True Grit to be among the Coen's weakest films and disregard it first here. 127 Hours is another solid film, but I don't find the writing to be among its strongest points. Winter's Bone is a solid thriller that I am glad got a nomination, but I can't vote for it. That's because you have two great options.

The Social Network is certainly a worthy winner. Sorkin's dialogue sparkles as always, and the film keeps the high wire act it walks up at all times. Meanwhile, Toy Story 3 is a perfectly constructed sequel that manages to parody prison films perfectly without losing its heart and sense of character at all times. It brings in memorable new characters and that ending is about as perfect as it gets. We recently went through a Toy Story obsession in my house, and I have probably seem the film at least a dozen times now (mostly in bits and pieces) and it still amazes me. It gets my vote here.
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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:18 am

Well, OK, you explained why you liked Another Year. I don't agree, but at least you made your case. Now if only one of the proponents of Inception would explain what I missed with that one.

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Re: Best Screenplay 2010

Postby ITALIANO » Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:12 am

I think that both are unusually poor selections.

In Original, I could only vote for Another Year. No other choice seems reasonable - and this even if Another Year isn't Mike Leigh's best screenplay ever. But it's mature, very subtle, and at least it doesn't treat its audience as if they were children who must be explained EVERYTHING. I liked the complexity - and the truth - of some of its characters. I'm not sure that it's a movie I'd love to see a second time, and it definitely isn't a "pleasant" movie, nor are its characters conventionally pleasant, but it's well and perceptively written.
It's possible that, of the other four, I would have picked The King's Speech - which is traditional, unsurprising but kind-of effective (and I think the first reason of the movie's success) - but I'm glad that I don't have to do so. It's not MY kind of script, just too... simple for my tastes I guess.

I haven't seen Toy Story 3, so I can't vote for Adapted. But this is, of course, just a good excuse - I doubt that, even if I had seen it, I'd have voted for it. But none of the nominees really impressed me. In all honesty probably the best is admittedly The Social Network, which has at least some ambitions - but it also has so many flaws, and I was soon completely uninterested in its story, its characters (and they all talk in the same, annoying way). It will predictably win here - it never for one moment lets one forget that there IS a writer behind it - but no, it's not for me.

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Best Screenplay 2010

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:55 am

Overall a decent year for screenplays, although I would have preferred to see Let Me In; Never Let Me Go; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version) or The Town nominated for Adapted Screenplay over 127 Hours. In Original, I cringed at the inclusion of Another Year but I would probably have cringed even more at the inclusion of Black Swan or Please Give which were nominated by the WGA.

Among the nominated originals, Another Year is the first to go. It's difficult to know what portions of any Mike Leigh film are improvised vs. those that are actually scripted ahead of time. Mostly, though, the banal dialogue in this one was hardly worthy of an award. Even BAFTA, which gave the film its Best British Film award failed to nominate it for its screenplay.

I liked The Fighter quite a lot. For me it's the last David O. Russell film that really works, but with four credited writers as well as Russell and maybe his actors having input into the screenplay it's difficult to assess who wrote what.

Inception has such a confused narrative that I don't know why it was even considered. It won the WGA largely because The King's Speech was deemed ineligible. Still, they had the opportunity to award The Kids Are All Right and didn't, so it is a bit of a head-scratcher.

For me it comes down to The Kids Are All Right and The King's Speech, both of which are dialogue driven. I liked The Kids Are All Right better overall, but I liked the screenplay for The King's Speech even more, so it gets my vote.

Among adapted screenplays, having been familiar with the story behind 127 Hours I wasn't surprised by anything in the minimalist screenplay which I felt was its weakest link and therefore the weakest of the nominees.

The Coen Brothers' version of True Grit was truer to the source material than the 1969 version, but I liked the John Wayne-Glen Campbell-Kim Darby combo better than the Jeff Bridges-Matt Damon-Hailee Steinfeld combo. Damon, in fact, was so bland I'd forgotten he was even in the film and had to look it up to see who played Glen Campbell's part.

I like the screenplay for Toy Story 3 a lot and was intrigued by the screenplay for Winter's Bone, but the best adapted work was, for me, by far Aaron Sorkin's screenplay for The Social Network.

Overall, while there were some worthy nominees, the Academy got this one right on both counts.


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