Hello and welcome to a new panel that I like to call: Oscar Schmoscar! If you were following my videos before the tragic genocidal takedown of march 2014, you may have heard me mention how much respect I lack for the Academy Awards institution. They fucked up many times, and too many times because of the ideals of MURICA and their periodical witch-hunts and/or perpetual need to stroke their national ego.
But some other times they actually get it right and hand out some deserving Oscars. So, let’s see if that’s been the case with edition 85 of the Awards, from 2013, focusing on the Best Original Screenplay award, won by Django Unchained by Quentin Tarantino. Out of the five nominated movies this western with anachronistic accents took the prize. But did it deserve to win? Is it an Oscar? Or is it a Schmoscar?
Let’s decide by taking a look at all the participants, leaving the winner for last. And of course, since we’re talking about the merits of the screenplay, there are going to be a couple spoilers in this. Good? Good. Let’s start with nominee number one… Flight.
Written by John Gartis, better known for his work on Hardball and Coach Carter, Flight follows captain Whip Whiptaker, played by Denzel Washington, as he deals with the aftermath of his plane’s crash and the effects it has on his life. Also features a very funny although short performance by John Goodman. But speaking of story only, this movie is awesome in its compactness.
There are no wasted scenes, no wasted dialogue, no wasted shots, no wasted characters. Everything in this serves a purpose, from the shot of throwing empty bottles into a trash-can, to the malfunctioning of a remote which forces an official to go standing right in front and upwards from Denzel Washington during a hearing, as he’s about to lie through his teeth. The story is always captivating, tense, and entertaining as we accompany captain Whip off the deep end but stopping right at the edge.
We also get to know the main character down to its core, and to compare him to another character that symbolises the path that Whiptaker should have been taking but didn’t. Still, the script manages to make him never that unlikable, up until the end, that is, and even that gets a really nice resolution. A great story for great actors for a great movie. And god damn it, Kelly Reilly is beautiful in this.
Now, it seems only fair for us to shift to a trainwreck after a movie called Flight. And that train wreck is Zero Dark Thirty.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
If you live in the US or just on the internet, you have no doubt heard about this movie since it’s a dramatisation of the events that brought to the discovery and killing of Usama Bin Laden. Now, I seriously have no idea how this even got nominated to begin with. First, because since this is based on real life events and documents, calling it an Original Screenplay is really stretching it, in my opinion. Second, because the story has highs but a lot of lows.
It jumps around a lot, so much that you don’t really get to know the characters, and it’s riddled with cliches, like: the leader of the good guys being an asshole who’s an asshole without a good reason; the main character that leads people to the goal is the workaholic new guy -well, gal- who perseveres with her fancy new mindset that threatens the old establishment against all odds and opposition and actually starts inspiring people; and my personal favourite:
‘Hey, I had little to no presence or influence in this movie so far but I suddenly have a lead that could win the war! And even though I’m always calm and collected, I’m now eager and excited and they’re telling but not showing that I’m the main character’s only friend even though in almost all the scenes we’ve been in together we only sniped at each other!’
‘Oh, god. You are so dead…’
‘Yeah, I know…’
It gets slowly better the closer we get to the final third of the movie, but even so it’s not that good and it’s way too fucking long. Also, if this was about the directing, I would add something along the likes of ‘STOP WITH THE GOD-DAMN SHAKY CAM EVERYWHERE!’. So, yeah, Zero Dark Thirty didn’t even deserve to be in the list. Next!
Moonrise Kingdom is the first Wes Anderson movie I’ve ever seen… And damn was it weird. Also, I wasn’t surprised to see Edward Norton and Bill Murray in something like this, but Bruce Willis? He does a good job, too. The real stars of this movie are the kid actors, though. But returning to the story, it’s very witty, entertaining and contains enough WTF moments to keep you guessing.
It’s a very nice story about two lonely kids finding their first love and true friends in a period where, when adults didn’t know how to deal with kids with a troubled mind shock therapy was still considered an acceptable answer. The characters are all very well written and interesting, and the actors all have perfectly fitting roles. Don’t believe me? Bill Murray wearing just pyjama pants, flip flops and his glasses carrying a bottle of alcohol and an ax, intending to chop down a tree. Do I really need to say anything else?
Of course, this isn’t really for everyone. It’s Wes Anderson, after all, and from what I gathered while researching, all his movies are this… Particular. Which reminds me, I really need to go see Grand Budapest Hotel, now. Sounds like fun… Now, prepare your tears.
The only movie out of the five nominee not made in MURICA, also winner of the Best Foreign Language Film award and the Palm D’Our at the Festival of Cannes, L’Amour is excruciatingly beautiful and terribly sad. The story follows an elderly couple’s life after the wife suffers a stroke and becomes paralysed on one side of her body, and do we get to partake in their misery.
The movie holds no bars, doesn’t keep anything from the audience. Just like the characters we’re not spared anything as Anne, played by Emannuele Riva, slowly gets worse and worse. Not an inch of the pain, humiliation, sadness and suffering she and everyone else around her goes through. The movie even takes the time to give you some light hearted moments every now and then, because, you know. False hope.
The story doesn’t keep from you any details. This is as real as real life can get on the silver screen, and doesn’t hide anything from you: disease, desperation, death… And of course, love. At least that… And now, for the winner!
Django Unchained, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and boy: does it show. We have the modern day elements brought back to the past, we have the scenes that serve no real purpose but are still fun to watch, we have the blood and violence, and we have a great cast. Leonardo di Caprio is awesome in this, and Cristoph Waltz won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor! But we’re talking about the screenplay here.
Now, the movie is very entertaining. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it. You’re not going to regret it. That said, this movie’s script has some really big problems. The first being that this movie is called Django Unchained. It’s about a slave named Django, played by Jamie Foxx, and his quest for freedom and to find his wife again. And with that setup, if Django and his wife are the least interesting characters of the movie, you have a veeery big problem.
It’s not the actor’s fault. Jamie Foxx does a great job, even while Cristoph and Leo chew the scenery and then some. It’s just that they didn’t really give him much to work with. They gave him the least interesting dialogue and the least interesting scenes. Hell, even a classic Tarantino scene where a prototype KKK discusses the merits of wearing badly made white sacks on their heads is more interesting.
And second big problem, the whole entirety of the last arc is bullshit. Doc has shown valuing the lives of Django and his wife over everything else, to the point that he even stood seeing a man being torn apart by dogs. But suddenly, when their freedom and lives are all but secured, he couldn’t stand shaking Di Caprio’s hand? Now he values his honour more than a person’s life?
It’s like Tarantino had so much fun writing this, putting in whatever the hell he wanted, that he suddenly realised he had written himself into a corner and needed something to happen to have a last sequence with violence and blood and explosions and bullets. A cool last sequence but it still didn’t make sense for it to happen in the first place.
So, I repeat, it’s a great, very entertaining movie, but the script has two very major flaws. And as such, it didn’t deserve the award it got when compared with the other competitors. Django Unchained winning for Best Original Screenplay is a bit fat Schmoscar. Now, you may ask yourself, who the hell would have I given the award to, given these five choices?
SCHMOSCAR. WHAT NOW?
Django Unchained is already out of the way, and the less said about Zero Dark MURRICAAAAAA the better. That leaves: Moonrise Kingdom, Flight and Amour. All the three movies left are very well written, and I have my personal favourite, but I have to objectively consider which one is the best, right? Well… For once, my favourite and the best out of the bunch are one and the same.
All three movies have very compact and solid storytelling. There’s nothing wasted, and they all serve their purpose perfectly. So, the question we have to ask ourselves is: which one says more? Which one has more scenes and elements that not only move the story forward, but also serve other purposes at the same time? Which one does the most with what it does have?
Both Moonrise Kingdom and Amour are great stories, but there are not that many scenes in them that are able to move the story forward while at the same time giving us an insight into something in the past of the characters or into their personality. Flight, on the other hand, does this over and over again, making up for the fact that our main character, which we follow for most of the movie, is a compulsive liar who can’t even tell the truth to himself, figures the audience.
Also, Flight has more scenes and dialogues that leave an impact on you, making it just as entertaining as Moonrise Kingdom but also as emotional as Amour, at times. So, my final judgment is, in 2013, Flight deserved to win that Oscar, not Django Unchained. And here’s all the five movies, in my personal order of preference, based on their screenplay only.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
4. Django Unchained
5. Zero Dark MURRICAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!
Agree? Disagree? Have another movie from that year that got left out or another award to bring to my attention? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like, share and subscribe! Ja ne!