Friday, February 20, 2009

Cool Black's Oscar Recap Past & Present

It’s that time of year again! The Academy Awards or as they are best know the Oscars. If the [Baltimore] Ravens aren’t in the Superbowl, I really don’t care about the Superbowl so the Oscars are always my “Superbowl”. This year is the 81st Annual Academy Awards.

Like everyone I’ve watched the Oscars off and on throughout my life, but with recent achievements by African Americans (Denzel, Halle, Jamie, Forest, etc.) I have been watching them more and now EVERY YEAR. Of course the big attention is always given to the Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Picture awards and such, but since I consider myself a screenwriter FIRST I’m always particularly interested in the screenwriting awards. There are TWO screenwriting awards, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best script not based upon previously published material and the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay is awarded each year to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source (usually a novel, play, or short story but also sometimes another film). All sequels are automatically considered adaptations by this standard (since the sequel must be based on the original story).

My favorite winners in recent history:

Best Adapted Screenplay-2007 (80th) No Country for Old Men - Ethan and Joel Coen from the novel by Cormac McCarthy

2004 (77th) Sideways - Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor from the novel by Rex Pickett

2000 (73rd) Traffic - Stephen Gaghan from the teleplay Traffik by Simon Moore

1997 (70th) L.A. Confidential - Curtis Hanson, Brian Helgeland from the novel by James Ellroy

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: If you haven’t seen the films above, you really should.

Best Original Screenplay-
1990 Ghost - Bruce Joel Rubin
1991 Thelma and Louise - Callie Khouri
1994 Pulp Fiction - Quentin Tarantino (story and screenplay) and Roger Avary (story)
1995 The Usual Suspects - Christopher McQuarrie
1996 Fargo - Ethan and Joel Coen
1997 Good Will Hunting - Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
1999 American Beauty - Alan Ball
2006 Little Miss Sunshine – Michael Arndt
2007 Juno – Diablo Cody

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: Again if you haven’t seen the films above, you really should.
This year’s (2009) nominees are:

Best Original Screenplay
WALL-E - Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter
Happy-Go-Lucky - Mike Leigh
Frozen River - Courtney Hunt
In Bruges - Martin McDonagh
Milk - Dustin Lance Black

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Eric Roth and Robin Swicord from the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Doubt - John Patrick Shanley from his stage play.
Frost/Nixon - Peter Morgan from his stage play.
The Reader - David Hare from the novel by Bernhard Schlink
Slumdog Millionaire - Simon Beaufoy from the novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: For the first time in a while I really have no vested interest in the screenplay awards. The only film I did see, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, I didn’t think the screenplay was that fantastic.

And now Best Picture-The Academy Award for Best Motion Picture is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only to vote on the final ballot, but also to nominate. During the annual Academy Awards ceremony, Best Picture is reserved as the final award presented and, since 1951, is collected at the podium by the film's producers. The Academy Award for Best Motion Picture is considered the most important of the Academy Awards, as it is the final result of the collaborative producing, directing, acting, and writing efforts put forth for a film.


These are awards in recent memory that I was particularly interested in: (The films in bold were the only ones I actually saw with any additional comments will under "Cool Black's Mad Commentary:" )

2000-WINNER-Gladiator - DreamWorks & Universal - Douglas Wick, David Franzoni, Branko Lustig
Chocolat - Miramax - David Brown, Kit Golden, Leslie Holleran
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Sony Pictures Classics - William Kong, Li-Kong Hsu, Ang Lee
Erin Brockovich - Universal & Columbia - Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher
Traffic - USA Films - Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Laura Bickford

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: Gladiator was a good film, but in NO WAY Best Picture. I thought the award should have gone to Traffic, an excellent film.


2004-WINNER-Million Dollar Baby - Warner Bros. - Clint Eastwood, Albert S. Ruddy, Tom Rosenburg
The Aviator - Miramax & Warner Bros. - Michael Mann, Graham King
Finding Neverland - Miramax - Richard N. Gladstein, Nellie Bellflower
Ray - Universal - Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin, Howard Baldwin
Sideways - Fox Searchlight - Michael London

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: This time the award DID GO to the right picture. Million Dollar Baby was one of the most emotionally searing films I have ever seen, but truly excellent. I would have been happy if the equally excellent The Aviator won though.


2005-WINNER-Crash - Lions Gate - Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: I DID NOT like Crash. I found the racism in the film contrived and empty. I would have been SO HAPPY if another nominated Best Picture Little Miss Sunshine won.


2007-WINNER-No Country for Old Men - Miramax & Paramount Vantage - Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Atonement - Focus Features - Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster
Juno - Fox Searchlight - Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
Michael Clayton - Warner Bros. - Jennifer Fox, Kerry Orent, Sydney Pollack
There Will Be Blood - Paramount Vantage & Miramax - Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Lupi, JoAnne Sellar

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: Again this time the award DID GO to the right picture. No Country for Old Men was excellent. I would have been happy if Michael Clayton or Juno won.


This year’s nominees-The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Paramount & Warner Bros. - Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Cean Chaffin
Frost/Nixon - Universal - Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Eric Fellner
Milk - Focus Features - Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen
The Reader - The Weinstein Company - Anthony Minghella, Sydney Pollack, Donna Gigliotti, Redmond Morris
Slumdog Millionaire - Fox Searchlight,Warner Bros.,Pathe - Christian Colson

Cool Black's Mad Commentary: The only picture I have seen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button while a good film, I don’t think is “Best Picture” worthy, but good luck to it and it’s nominees especially the great Taraji P. Henson.

The Oscars will be broadcast on ABC television Feb 22, 2009 beginning at 8pm EST.

Written by Cool Black AKA Dankwa Brooks with information from Wikipedia.

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