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Oscar's Best Original Screenplay 2020


The Oscar for Best Original Screenplay goes to...?
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The Academy voters deemed these the five Best Original Screenplays of the year.

Knives Out
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

Parasite. But I think Marriage Story will sneak in with a win.
My Favorite Films

If Tarantino is not winning Best Director, he should win for this, which I think he's got in the bag. Unless the Academy pulls an upset and hands it to Baumbach.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!” ~ Rocky Balboa

Seen all but 1917. Love the Knives Out script but it comes down to Tarantino vs Baumbach for me. Two of the best screen writers in the last 20 years. I like Baumbach by a hair this year. I'm a sucker for domestic non-bliss.

28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
Does 1917 deserve a nomination for screenplay? I haven't seen it yet, but the film screams spectacle over story. Anyone wanna chime in?
"A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it's the only weapon we have."

Suspect's Reviews

It does have a good story underneath the grand scale too.

After breaking through with the indie hit Brick (2005) and following with the quirky comedy The Brothers Bloom (2008) and the clever time travel thriller Looper (2012) Rian Johnson’s rep took a bit of a hit from fanboys when the inevitable blockbuster Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) became so polarizing. But he roared back both critically and with a big box office take with the fun, throwback, all-star whodunit Knives Out. Its nomination here is Rian’s first. He’s got no chance of winning but as a validation that he has a voice in the business and with there already being talks of potential sequels starring Daniel Craig’s sleuth Benoit Blanc it really is an honor just to be nominated.

This is Noah Baumbach's second Oscar nomination, the first coming in this same category for The Squid and the Whale fourteen years ago (Crash won the Oscar). His indie cred was established long ago with his debut Kicking & Screaming (1995) but really kicked into gear with The Squid and the Whale (2005), Margot at the Wedding (2007), Greenberg (2010), Frances Ha (2012), While We’re Young (2014), Mistress America (2015), The Meyerowitz Stories (2017), and now Marriage Story. Baumbach used his parents’ divorce as the template for The Squid and the Whale and his own divorce (from Jennifer Jason Leigh) as the template for Marriage Story. After being shut out of the Best Director nomination his admirers are left with this avenue to reward the writer/director for his work.

This is the first time Sam Mendes has taken a screenplay credit. It was Alan Ball’s original script that won for American Beauty and in all of his subsequent projects Mendes made his stamp directorially but never on the page. 1917 is co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns very first feature, having written for the Showtime series ”Penny Dreadful” which is executive produced by Mendes. 1917 is based loosely on tales Mendes’ grandfather told him about WWI, and the German retreat masking an ambush is historical fact (known as Operation Alberich). But this first-person epic is not overly concerned with giving the military overview, it wants to put the viewer in the trenches. The illusion of it taking place in real time and in one shot is something to reward the direction and cinematography for, not the screenplay. But if 1917 wins a lot of the big prizes the script may get swept up in that wave.

This is Quentin Tarantino’s fourth Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay following Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, and Django Unchained. His wins for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained are his only Oscars to date. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has some of the self-referential stuff the Oscar voters tend to go for, though some of the older guard in the Academy may be a bit turned off by the intentional deviation from the real life events the narrative takes. It all builds to a rather wonderful, almost triumphant surprise ending but those who were in town during that period could potentially knock some points off for not sticking more closely to the facts. Those who grooved to OUATIH found it a fun ride, and if once again Quentin isn’t going to get enough votes to win Best Director he may wind up getting some of that love here again.

Bong Joon-Ho may receive similar consideration from those who admired Parasite but can’t quite bring themselves to name it for Best Picture or Best Director on their ballots. Though the presumptive win as Best Foreign Language Feature may scratch that itch enough? Bong is already a rock star of international cinema thanks to the slick and grisly police procedural Memories of Murder (2003), his modern take on the giant monster movie The Host (2006), the unique revenge thriller Mother (2009), the brutal sci-fi actioner Snowpiercer (2013), and the oddball sci-fi allegory Okja (2017). Parasite is a sneaker, and best enjoyed if you don’t have an idea of what is coming but its mixture of humor, tension, and social commentary has made it a beloved sensation. Beloved or not it would be a surprise to hear it called for Best Picture. But Bong may walk away with Best Original Screenplay and Best Director.

Parasite is the 64th Original Screenplay nominee in a foreign language. Only five have won thus far: Marie-Louise (1954, Switzerland), The Red Balloon (1956, France), Divorce Italian Style (1962, Italy), A Man and a Woman (1966, France), and Talk to Her (2002, Spain).

This century has seen this prize go to some odder stuff that had no real shot at Best Picture like Jordan Peele for Get Out, Spike Jonze for Her, Charlie Kaufman for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Pedro Almodóvar for Talk to Her. But it has also gone to more mainstream Best Picture winners like The King’s Speech, Spotlight, and last year’s Green Book. They can reward the bold outsider but it ain’t a given. If the voters tend toward the adventurous it will probably be Parasite but if they want something more familiar it’ll be 1917. Or Tarantino splits the difference and gets his third Oscar.