Oscar History

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« Podcast: On the nominations for the 91st Academy Awards| Main| Supporting Actor Fun: How were they nominated?What do they have in common?»
Jan 24 2019

Blueprints: Memorable Scenes from Your "Best Original Screenplay" Nominees

by JorgeMolina

We all rose at the crack of dawn on Tuesday morning to hear Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross banter in a way that we won't see anyone do on the actual Oscar stage.While we were all bracing for catastrophe (and yes,Bohemian Rhapsodyis a Best Picture nominee),the nods balance between expected precursors and delightful surprises (still high on the Marina de Tavira wave).As for Best Original Screenplay,there were no surprises.Four out of the five nominees were pretty locked from very early on.It was the fifth slot that was the question mark.WhileIwas hoping for Bo Burnham's distillation on teen angst,Paul Schrader's distillation on environmental nihilism works just fine as well.

After the jump the writers,their history with Oscar,and what scene we think landed them that nomination...

The Favourite
(Read the full scripthere)

Written by: Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara

The elevator pitch: In early 18th century England,a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend,Lady Sarah,governs the country in her stead.When a new servant,Abigail,arrives,her charm endears her to Sarah.

Screenplay length:102 pp

Oscar History: First Oscar nomination for both writers.

Memorable scene:In the midst of a royal party,Sarah leaves Queen Anne's side to dance alongside one of the male court members.As Queen Anne watches,the realization that she will never get to dance as freely (and ridiculously) as the people in front of her dawns on her.She also wants to keep Sarah all to herself.So she makes the music stop.


First Reformed
(Read the full scripthere)

Written by: Paul Schrader

The elevator pitch: A minister of a small congregation in upstate New York grapples with mounting despair brought on by tragedy,worldly concerns and a tormented past.

Screenplay length: 87 pp

Oscar History: Surprisingly and criminally,this is writer-director Paul Schrader's first Oscar nomination ever.

Memorable scene: Mary comes back to Reverend Toller for advice and guidance.Following a technique,she learned about syncing their breathing,Mary gets on top of him.As their bodies line up,they begin to float,as their bodies move through all corners of the Earth,from natural wonders to the environmental disasters caused by mankind.


Green Book
(Read the full scripthere)

Written by: Brian Currie,Peter Farrelly & Nick Vallelonga

The elevator pitch: A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.

Screenplay length: 115 pp

Oscar History: All three are first time nominees.They also all have a nomination for Best Picture this year for the same movie.

Memorable scene: In the middle of the trip,Dr.Shirley notices Tony struggling with writing a love letter to his wife.He gives him some advice and helps him make them more eloquent and filled with sentiment.


(Read the full scripthere)

Written by: Alfonso Cuarón

The elevator pitch: A year in the life of a middle-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

Screenplay length: 135 pp

Oscar History: This is Cuarón's third nomination in the writing category,afterY Tu Mamá Tambienin 2002,which was shared with his brother Carlos,andChildren of Menin 2006,which he shared with Tomothy Sexton,David Arata,Mark Fergus,and Hawk Ostby.He was also nominated for Editing forChildren of Menin 2006 andGravityin 2013.He won for Best Director that same year for the space epic.He is nominated in three more categories this year: Cinematography,Director,and Best Picture.

Memorable scene: Cleo and the family she works for take a stop on their way out from the vacations they've been taking.As mother Sofía goes to check the car,Cleo is made to watch over the kids swimming at the beach.When the current carries them away,she must face the waves and rescues them,leading to an explosion moment of catharsis.


(Read the full scripthere)

Written by: Adam McKay

The elevator pitch: The story of Dick Cheney,an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider,who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W.Bush,reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.

Screenplay length: 105 pp

Oscar History: McKay won an Adapted Screenplay Oscar in 2015 forThe Big Short,which he shared with Charles Randolph.He was also nominated for Best Director that year,and is nominated in that category this year,as well,as well as for Best Picture.

Memorable scene: George W.Bush meets with Dick Cheney to convince him to become his vice president.

Who Should Win:I mean,Eighth Grade!

But from this crop,eitherThe FavouriteorFirst Reformed.The former has an idiosyncratic,female-focused perspective that we rarely get with period pieces,and that could only be executed with the whimsy of a Lanthimos picture.And the latter is a dark and grimy exploration of our current worldly turbulences;complex,layered,and uncompromising.And it's long past time for Schrader to win an Oscar.

Will Win:Schrader's overdue narrativecouldtake him all the way to the stage,in a similar manner to James Ivory last year.But we fear we'll get a Golden Globes repeat and the love forGreen Bookthat voters across all organizations seem unwilling to question will take them to the stage.

Tune in next week for memorable scenes from Adapted category!

Related:Nathaniel's Best Screenplay charts where you canvotefor your favourites

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Reader Comments (3)

The Favourite all the way!

January 25,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

I think Vice actually had a lot of really good bits in every aspect,directing,acting and especially the screenplay.It just never ran with the ball man,manager kept telling people to pass instead of coming up with a goal strategy.

January 25,2019 | Unregistered Commenterkris01

The Favourite is also my choice but I find the odd dismissal towards Roma's writing because it's more of a visual feat to be off putting.

"They're sophisticated,they're thinking deeply about their subject matter"

And Roma isn't?

January 25,2019 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

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