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Entries in Screenplays (254)

Tuesday
Aug132019

The New Classics: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

by Michael Cusumano

Scene: Scaling the Burj Khalifa
In the course of writing this column, I eventually got around to asking myself the inevitable question:  “What is the 21st century scene I’ve watched the most times?” 

I knew with certainty that the answer was the Burj Khalifa scene from Brad Bird’s Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, even if I couldn’t immediately account for the why. Of course you could simply say ”Why not?” It’s already firmly established in the pantheon of great action scenes. But it’s not like the past two decades have seen a dearth of great action filmmaking. Why not “Ship’s Mast” from Death Proof or the centerpiece car chase from Drive? What exactly is it about Tom Cruise pawing his way up the side of the world’s tallest building? 

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Tuesday
May142019

The New Classics - A Separation

Michael Cusumano back again with my new series on great scenes/films of the 21st Century. This week a title we will surely hear often when the best of the decade lists start rolling in...

 

Scene: Razieh is Fired (aka The Incident)
It’s rare for a movie, even a great movie, to sneak up on the audience the way Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation does.

The screenplay is centered around an inflection point. Everything pulling the characters inexorably toward, or ricocheting off of, the moment when a man shoves a woman out his front door. Yet this action is not granted any special emphasis. First-time viewers have no clue they’ve witnessed the action around which the entire story pivots. It is only a few short scenes later, when the man is on trial for causing the miscarriage of the women he pushed (a murder charge in Iran) that the weight of that shove comes crashing home...

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Thursday
Apr112019

April Foolish Predictions #7: Screenplay, Director, and Best Picture

Taika Waitita directing Scarlett Johansson on the set of "JoJo Rabbit"

Our annual way-too-early Oscar predictions are nearing completion! Only lead actor, and both actress categories left to go. Today the big one BEST PICTURE, as well as both screenplay races, and the Best Director contest. The latter looks really exciting (at least at this way-too-early juncture) because the competition appears to be more gender-balanced than usual with a handful of female directors in the mix. Imagine that! Of course the year might not play out like that once the films are screened, but here's hoping the female directed pictures deliver in a can't-be-denied kind of way.

Monday
Feb252019

Oscar Trivia with the 91st Annual Academy Awards now a wrap

Now that the big show has ended let's talk trivia. Please do share any cool things you noticed in the comments.

PICTURE & DIRECTING

• With Alfonso Cuarón's win we are reminded that Mexico is completely dominant for Best Director prizes in Hollywood of late. Five of the past six winners have been Mexican directors (Damien Chazelle for La La Land being the lone non-Mexican winning). The US is really lagging, and not behind Mexico -- in the ten past ceremonies only two American-born directors have won: Chazelle and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker

Alfonso Cuarón is the first and ONLY director to win for directing a foreign-language film. Some trivia listings suggest he's the second after Michel Hanavicius for The Artist but that was a silent film, so language isn't relevant...

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Monday
Feb182019

Interview: Screenwriter Deborah Davis on her 20 year passion project "The Favourite" 

by Nathaniel R

Deborah Davis, first time screenwriter, is up for an Oscar this weekendDeborah Davis recently took home the BAFTA for her work on the screenplay to Yorgos Lanthimos's stunning tragicomedy and Best Picture hopeful The Favourite. Though Lanthimos has previously co-written his own features this time was attached to a project already in progress. Davis and cowriter Tony McNamara than retooled the screenplay to match Lanthimos's vision. The results were magic, as has long since become obvious.

Before the hardware started arriving we hopped on a cross Atlantic phone call with Deborah Davis briefly. We couldn't find much info about her at the time and were reeling from the realization that the dearth of info came from the fact that The Favourite was her very first movie. As it turns out she became a screenwriter specifically to tell this story. And what a story it is.

Our interview, edited for length and clarity follows...

NATHANIEL: I'm still gobsmacked that this is a first screenplay!

DEBORAH DAVIS: That’s correct, yes. By training I'm a lawyer, but I’ve done quite a lot of journalism. I started to research The Favourite 20 years ago, and I was actually convinced that this story about women in power and the female triangle would make a wonderful film, so I went and learned how to write a script...

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Monday
Feb182019

A Shocking First-Time-Ever WGA Surprise!

To all the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, LOSERS!"
-Bo Burnham accepting his WGA prize for Original Screenplay

This is not common at all but last night the Writers Guild of America opted to ditch the Best Picture nominated films and instead chose Can You Ever Forgive Me? in Adapted and Eighth Grade (which was not even nominated for the Oscar *sniffle*) in Original as the year's best screenplays. Though the WGA and the Oscar winners only line up about half the time (some of that due to eligibility differences) it's pretty rare that the WGA skips Best Picture nominees if they have the option of awarding them. The last time they gave their Adapted Screenplay prize to a non Oscar Best Pic contender was American Splendor (2003) and the last time they gave their Original Screenplay to a non Oscar Best Pic contender was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) so we're talking quite a while ago. It's so uncommon that it happening in both categories simultaneously is a downright shock; it's literally never happened in the history of the WGA...

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