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Oscar Picks: Best Adaptive Screenplay

Best Adaptive Screenplay.
Best Adaptive Screenplay? Doesn’t it just sound a little less then Best Original? It almost feels like that friend you had in High School; you know what friend I am talking about – not quite as attractive, not quite as funny or smart, the friend that always copied your homework, cheated off you in biology, and copied your tests in english. You remember that friend? If you don’t – its because YOU WERE THAT FRIEND!

Best Adaptive Screenplay is kind of like the little brother trying to fill the shoes of their older sibling; the one that tries to keep up but can’t. Thats what I Get for a feeling from Best adaptive – like the writer could not come up with their own creative idea, and had to use someone else’s thoughts. Like an accepted form of plagerism, you can credit your idea from someone else’s tale, yet reap the benefits.

On second thought – Welcome to the American way!

Lets dive right in, shall we? The first film I saw, way back on August 22nd, I knew, KNEW is was an oscar caliber film. The plot was twisting and turning, complex, character driven and well developed. Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tachell’s “District 9” was based off their own short film “Alive in Joburg”, which I feel honestly qualifies it more for Best Original then Best adaptive – but they Academy has yet to listen to anything I say – but this wonderfully intertwined Sci-Fi/Action/Drama has all the poise and balance needed to strike an emotional chord with the viewer

In the same vein, “In the Loop” is a big budget, feature length spinoff of the BBC’s “the Thick of it”. Again, adapted by the creator into a feature, “In the Loop” tells the satirical tale of Britain stuck between a rock and a hard place with Hard liners in the UK and USA pushing the more moderate people to go to war. This subtle, satirical comedy has all the touchs of the BBC’s version of the office with the humor of an absurd transition of characters intermingling to create a mismanage movement for war. Though scripted, the film is shot in such a way to feel completely off balance, unpredictable, and (in an Arrested Development sense) awkward.

Looking to novels – there are 3 on the list. Lets start with my favorite author-turned-screenwriter on the list – Nick Hornby. I feel there is little he can do wrong in life – after writing and adapting Fever Pitch (Based partially on his life – please ignore any 2004 references to this film. I promise, that did NOT happen.) and writing such novels as “About a Boy” and “High Fidelity”, I feel it poor to question him ever. Hear that, world? EVER. Alas, I do. in “An Education”, he has adapted the memoirs of Lynn Barber, and created a lovely, compleling 85 Minute story. Unfortunately, the run time on the film is 95 minutes – giving the view a feeling like there is a hppy ending because there has to be one, and as a result, a mish-mashed 10 min short has been spliced onto the end (Please note – this was brought to my attention after 1 viewing – I had to watch the film a second time, and was so glaringly obvious I felt like an idiot for missing it).

“Push” by Sappphire is the basis for the film “Precious”, telling the tale of an illiterate inner-city New York Teenager who, when pregnant with he second child at 16, is pushed into an altenative education system. This tale of sadness within the cycle of abuse that not only haunt, but follows 16 year old Precious is one that is hard to foget. The adaptation for film feels almost imcomplete – it might have every major plot twist, and every major interaction, but it almost feels as though the gaps that exist leave it feeling more hollow then the subject matter should. It is my belief that this is an excellent example of a film that should have stayed as a book, allowing people to draw more from it.

Even now, a full month after the fact, I am still enthralled with the film “Up in the Air”. The story has some sweet, powerful and poignant characters, all with the emotional ups and downs, twists and turns that we all face (sometimes daily). The plot of being a travelling termination specialist in the day and age of burst dot-coms (Booredatwork will never be that!) and the 2008 financial crisis creates an amazing backdrop of regret and fear, mirroring Ryan Bingham’s own fear of job security. The most glowing endorsement on this script with when the author, Walter Kim, watched the film, and was overjoyed to not only see most of his project and characters still there, but the spirit of them holding true, while the plot was only tweaked for film.

The gut check time on this tells me that “District 9” and “An Education” do not have the legs to stand among this group. While it was the film that moved me the most out of this category, niether does “Up in the Air”. So – that leaves two.

MY PICK: In the Loop
ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO: Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

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