Good morning. My name is Gigi and I am a parti-poodle. This has been a daunting week for my novelist and me. We have been trying to decide on what the best 25 Oscar nominated screenplays are both adapted and original since the beginning of the century. Next week we are going to do a second list of the best scripts NOT to get nominated for a screenplay Oscar since the beginning of the century. I am going to go pass out on my pillow by the window now as my novelist explains how we narrowed it down.
I watch a lot of films. I think a lot of writers watch a lot of films partly because they love story and partly to garner writing knowledge from them. Some years ago, I took a short writing class where the teacher told us a story needs to be three things: Outstanding, Original and Outrageous. I will add a fourth O to the list: Over time. The story needs to stand the test of time. In other words, it can be watched years later and still be great. The films on this list in my opinion meet that criteria.
After saying that you will note my list has two scripts up for nomination this year which means they have not yet been tested by time. My gut instinct is that they will continue to stand up. One of them was a slam dunk. The other I vacillated on. The problem with the film I vacillated on was the same problem I had with another film which didn’t make my list and would have made other peoples. And that’s often because there’s a flaw in the script.
The film that didn’t make my list came out several years ago was a big hit with critics. And I went into the theatre wanting the film to be a big hit with me. However, from the first scene I sensed something was off. It was a biopic and the writer had infused an integral character into the film who was fictional. At the time I watched the movie I knew very little about the real events and had no idea this character was fictional. I thought it was a real person. Still something about them bugged me…immensely. Later when I found out the character was fake and never existed, I said, ah, that’s why the script faltered. The writer did not successfully fuse the imaginary with the concrete.
The film I did put on my list has a different flaw altogether and that is towards the end of the second act the writer gives both the audience and the characters a reveal. Now the fact he gives a reveal is not the problem. Psycho for example has a reveal early in its story. The problem is the reveal in this film reveals too much. The ending, which is quite strong, is weakened by this. And I think the problem is the character who provides the reveal is too trustable. There’s no question this character is telling the truth because the character also shows us the truth. The character would be that much more interesting, and the story would be that much better if we weren’t sure the information provided was honest and if both the audience and characters did not get a clear look at one of the secrets. However, as the film is clearly Outstanding, Original and Outrageous, more so even than some of the other films I chose, I decided it should be included.
Strangely, this writer also has a film on the list I will post next week which I believe clearly belongs there. And I would go so far as to say I think that film is their best work despite the accolades this film is presently receiving.
Now looking at the list you might be thinking I’ve got a film there which mixes fictional characters and real characters. Why, yes it does. And it’s not the first time the writer has done this, albeit to a lesser result. But this infusion doesn’t ruin the story. Possibly because it is a fictional story infused with real people instead of the other way around. And unlike the other film which jeopardizes its ending by lifting its suspense right before the third act, this film builds suspense brilliantly till the very end.
I’ll post every Thursday. That’s the schedule. While you’re waiting for my next post check out my novel Chicane currently available on Amazon.
Here’s the list in alphabetical order:
THE BEST 25 OSCAR NOMINATED SCREENPLAYS 2000-2019
A History of Violence
City of God
Children of Men
Dallas Buyers Club
Dirty Pretty Things
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Lost in Translation
Million Dollar Baby
No Country for Old Men
Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood
The Royal Tennenbaums
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri