Thursday, January 30, 2014

Best Screenplay Nominee: HER

HER nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay

LOGLINE - Existential sci-fi rom-com about a lonely man who falls in love with his operating system.

WHO WROTE IT - Born Adam Spiegel, writer/director Spike Jonze began his career as a photographer for skate magazines, then branched out to making skater videos. When a skater friend passed along one of Spike’s skateboard videos to Sonic Youth after running into them in the parking lot after their concert, the band contacted Jonze to direct their next video.

That led to more music videos for such artists as Beastie Boys, Weezer, R.E.M., Daft Punk (before their five Grammy wins earlier this week), and Björk. Though Jonze continues making skateboard videos, music videos (Arcade Fire, Jay-Z, Kanye West) and short films today, he embarked on a feature film career in 1999 with Being John Malkovich.

Jonze’s first two films, Malkovich and Adaptation, were both written by Charlie Kaufman. In 2009, Jonze released his interpretation of the classic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are. He co-adapted the screenplay with Dave Eggers. Her is Jonze’s fourth film, and his first from his own original screenplay.

Spike Jones nominated for Best Original Screenplay for HER
Spike Jones, writer/director of HER, nominated for Best Original Screenplay
In addition to writing and directing, he sometimes works as an actor, most prominently in Three Kings for David O. Russell, whose American Hustle competes against Her in the Best Original Screenplay category this year. Jonze also appeared in The Wolf of Wall Street, which competes with Her for Best Picture. And as co-creator of MTV’s Jackass, Jonze is also a credited writer and producer of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, which is nominated this year for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Jonze was married for four years to writer/director Sofia Coppola, who went on to win a Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation starring Scarlett Johansson, the voice of Her.

Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola
Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola

DEVELOPING HER - Jonze first started thinking about Her more than ten years ago when he read an article about an AI-driven instant messenger service. He later explored robots learning to dream and fall in love in his short, I’m Here. Sponsored by Absolut Vodka, the film debuted at Sundance in 2010. Dropping the first two letters, and the last, he was left with Her.

BOY MEETS HER - Her deals with themes of emotional connection. The first act sets up the protagonist, Theodore, as an introverted man going through a divorce, unable to let go of his failed relationship. He makes a living writing simulated handwritten letters for others who don’t have time for real human connections. Then there’s the meet-cute: He installs a new OS and meets “her,” his new love interest.

Joaquin Phoenix stars in HER

Their relationship takes Theodore on a journey into the upside-down world of the second act, where he has everything that was missing from his relationship with his wife. Ultimately, the second-act journey proves to be the wrong path for the protagonist, but helps him discover the flaws that led to his first-act problems so that he can become a whole person by the end of the third act.

WILL IT WIN - The film has an imaginative, high-concept premise. So far, it’s the third-lowest-grossing of the ten nominated screenplays (and second-lowest of the Best Picture nominees), but the idea has gotten people talking about it -- to Siri. There are plenty of comedy sequences to fulfill the promise of the premise, which also lends itself well to pop culture parody, including last week's SNL send-up starring Wolf of Wall Street's supporting actor nominee, Jonah Hill.

But the script delves deeper than a surface rom-com. It’s philosophical and poetic. It tries to comment on the human condition. That makes it a “serious” movie, despite being nominated in the Golden Globes’ “musical or comedy” category.

The screenplay has already taken home more awards than you can shake an Oscar at, including the Golden Globe, Critics' Choice Award, and prizes from the Chicago Film Critics Association, Detroit Film Critics Society, Georgia Film Critics Association, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society, San Diego Film Critics Society, and more.

Spike Jonze wins the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay for HER
Spike Jonze wins Golden Globe for HER screenplay
In addition, Her is nominated for a WGA award and two ScripTipps Platinum Brad Screenplay Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Sci-Fi screenplay. (Click here to vote.)

Her is nominated for five Academy Awards in total, three of those nods (producer, writer, and co-songwriter) going to Jonze.

Jonze has circled the Oscar arena before. He was given a shot in the Best Director competition for his feature directorial debut, Being John Malkovich, but failed to make it back there for Her.

Malkovich and Adaptation both got screenplay nominations, suggesting the Academy responds more to screenwriter Charlie Kaufman than to Jonze. They wouldn’t give Kaufman a win until his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was brought to life by a different director, Michel Gondry.

In this year’s race, Her is not expected to take home the grand prize, having missed out on nominations in the directing, editing, and cinematography categories. In the song category, Jonze will have an uphill battle to beat Frozen’s power ballad, “Let It Go.”

But despite his stiff competition from Russell and newcomer Bob Nelson’s Nebraska in the screenplay category, the Academy may just follow suit with all the other organizations that have made Her one of the award-winningest screenplays of the year.

Nicole Holofcener (writer/director of Enough Said) interviews Spike Jonze.

This is Part 3 of our 10-part series of profiles on this year's Oscar-nominated screenplays.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Best Screenplay Nominee: PHILOMENA

PHILOMENA nominated for Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
LOGLINE - A journalist helps a woman search for the child that was stolen from her by nuns fifty years ago.

WHO WROTE IT - British comic Steve Coogan is best known in the UK as Alan Partridge, a fake talk-show host often compared to Stephen Colbert and co-created by Coogan with fellow future Oscar-nominated screenwriters Armando Iannucci (In the Loop) and Patrick Marber (Notes on a Scandal).

Alan Partridge, alter ego of Academy Award nominated screenwriter Steve Coogan

Although less known in the US, Coogan has appeared in such Hollywood hits as Tropic Thunder, both Night at the Museum movies, and as the voice of Silas Ramsbottom in Despicable Me 2, as well as indie darlings 24 Hour Party People, Hamlet 2, Ruby Sparks, and the aforementioned Oscar-nominated In the Loop.

The source material, the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty-Year Search by Martin Sixsmith, was published in 2009. Sixsmith was a BBC correspondent, a novelist, and an advisor on In the Loop. In 2004, he was approached by a stranger at a party who asked him to help a friend’s mother solve a fifty-year-old mystery.

He spent the next five years helping the feisty, old Irishwoman track down her lost son. His book shared the deepest secrets of Lee’s youth and reconstructed the life of the child she never got to see grow up.

Martin Sixsmith, Philomena Lee, Steve Coogan
(l-r) Author Martin Sixsmith, Philomena Lee, screenwriter Steve Coogan
Coogan spotted an article by Sixsmith in The Guardian about the events detailed in the book and quickly optioned it. Primarily interested in the journey the author had taken in researching the book, Coogan developed a screenplay with Jeff Pope that inserted Sixsmith into the story, then cast himself as the detective-like journalist opposite Dame Judi Dench.

Coogan is one of thirteen screenwriters last year who starred in the films they wrote or co-wrote, including Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, also nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for Before Midnight.

Jeff Pope, Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
Screenwriters Jeff Pope (l) and Steve Coogan (r) with Judi Dench
AN ODD COUPLE HITS THE ROAD - Though nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, Philomena is not a straight adaptation at all. Its credited source material is mostly about what Sixsmith found out regarding Philomena’s son’s life in America, while the film is about how he found it. Sixsmith barely mentions himself in the pages of his book, but describes the film as “the story behind the book.”

Coogan was attracted to the incongruity of the cynical Sixsmith going on a journey of discovery with this woman who appeared carefree in the face of deep personal tragedy. He saw a way to tackle a serious subject with humor and put his two characters on the road together, not unlike Best Original Screenplay nominee Nebraska, even though Sixsmith and Lee never traveled to America together during their real life search.

The co-protagonists have opposing world views -- he’s secular, she retains her faith to this day -- and each has a complete arc without either having a phony revelation that transforms them.

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan in PHILOMENA

Despite their differences, the two main characters are not each other’s antagonist. The villain is the “obstructive Catholic church,” as Sixsmith describes it, personified in Sister Hildegarde (who, in reality, had died before their search began). The movie almost plays as a direct sequel to 2002’s The Magdalene Sisters.

The film’s villain appears as an obstructive force only in the first and third acts. The second act journey that makes up the bulk of the film has an external goal -- finding Philomena’s son -- that completely changes after a surprising midpoint catapults the story into a new direction.

WILL IT WIN - Philomena has many of the elements Oscar voters respond to: Controversial subject matter (bringing to light a little-known scandal kept tightly under wraps by the Catholic church), LGBT themes, and Judi Dench.

With four total nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Dench), it’s The Weinstein Company’s most nominated film. Known as an aggressive Oscar campaigner who steered voters away from Fargo in favor of The English Patient and pushed a win on Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan, The Hollywood Reporter expects Harvey Weinstein to pull out all the stops.

PHILOMENA director Stephen Frears has two BAFTA awards
PHILOMENA director Stephen Frears
The film has plenty of Oscar pedigree. Its director, Stephen Frears, missed the cut this year, but has been nominated twice before, for The Grifters and The Queen, and his 1988 film, Dangerous Liaisons, won 3 statuettes, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Christopher Hampton. Three of his other films (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things, and My Beautiful Laundrette) were also nominated for their screenplays, so the Academy seems to like his script choices a lot.

Dench, who won in 1999 for Shakespeare in Love, is on her seventh nomination, while composer Alexandre Desplat is up for his sixth at-bat in eight years with no wins.

Philomena seems destined to take home the gold for something, and it just might be its screenplay, which placed first at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and USC Scripter Award, and two ScripTipps Platinum Brad Screenplay Awards (Best Screenplay Based on a True Story and Best Screenplay Written or Co-Written by the Film’s Lead Actor).

READ THE SCREENPLAY - The Oscar-nominated Philomena screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope can be downloaded directly from The Weinstein Company’s website. (Click here for the PDF.) The final shooting draft is 118 pages, while the finished film clocks in at around 95 minutes.

This is Part 2 of our 10-part series of profiles on this year's Oscar-nominated screenplays.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Best Screenplay Nominee: NEBRASKA

NEBRASKA by Bob Nelson, nominated for Best Original Screenplay

LOGLINE - A disoriented alcoholic and his son travel across three states to claim a bogus sweepstakes prize.

WHO WROTE IT - In the 1990s, Bob Nelson wrote and appeared on Almost Live!, a sketch comedy show on Seattle’s local NBC affiliate KING, that aired in SNL’s time slot, pushing Will Forte's former show to a later starting time. Among the other cast members were Joel McHale (Community) and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Bob Nelson, nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (NEBRASKA)
Academy Award nominated screenwriter Bob Nelson
After Almost Live!, Nelson tested his luck in L.A. He decided to try writing a feature screenplay, instead of the standard TV spec episode, as a writing sample for TV gigs, ending up writing for Magic Johnson’s short-lived talk show, The Magic Hour.

HOW IT GOT MADE - Nelson wrote the first draft of Nebraska, his very first feature-length screenplay, in 2002, more than ten years ago. In 2003, he worked with Nye again on another show, whose producer showed the script to Ron Yerxa, producer of Alexander Payne’s Election.

Yerxa asked Payne for director recommendations, only to find out the Nebraska-born, Oscar-winning writer-director was interested in the script for himself. He just didn’t want to do it right away. After Sideways, he wasn’t ready to jump right back into another two-guys-in-a-car vehicle.
NEBRASKA director Alexander Payne won Oscars for co-writing the screenplay adaptations for his last two movies, SIDEWAYS and THE DESCENDANTS
Alexander Payne
Payne made The Descendants his next movie, and Nelson waited. In an uncredited rewrite, Payne “did a lot of work on Act One,” according to Nelson. In the first draft, David (Forte) worked in a cubicle and we didn’t know what his job was. Payne made him a stereo salesman and changed Ross (Bob Odenkirk) from an insurance salesman to a local news anchor, adding a hint of sibling rivalry. He told Variety he never pursued a writing credit.

Another draft has Phil Johnston’s name on it. Johnston wrote Cedar Rapids, which Payne produced, and Wreck-It Ralph.

WHO’S THE PROTAGONIST - Bruce Dern is the star, but the story is told through his son’s point of view. David goes on a journey that will bring him closer to his father. While Woody (Dern) is not the type of antagonist who’s trying to kill the hero, his antics certainly put up barriers to the story’s goal of bringing the two together.

Bruce Dern and Will Forte star in NEBRASKA

At the film’s midpoint, David learns, through a third party, of his father’s experiences in the Korean War. Woody had never spoken about it. David sees him in a whole new light, turning him toward a path of understanding and conciliation.

In most quest movies, the treasure is never really the point. The journey is the story. What’s unique about Nebraska is we know right from the beginning there is no pot of gold at the end of the road. We take the trip with David for the same reason he does: for the trip itself.

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW - Nelson’s family was from the Midwest. Like David, Nelson had never known, until adulthood, that his father, a mechanic, like Woody, had been shot down in the war.

WILL IT WIN - Payne has been on an Oscar hot streak. This is the fourth of his last five films to be nominated for its screenplay, his last two, Sideways and The Descendants, both taking home the Adapted prize. It’s also Payne’s third consecutive nod for directing.

However, Payne isn't the writer here. In fact, this is the first film he’s ever made that he didn't write, and his first since Citizen Ruth that was not based on a novel. So Payne-loving Academy members don't have to love the writing so much, and the script is in a category where Payne technically has no track record.

The film was nominated for a total of six Academy Awards (a three-way tie with Captain Phillips and Dallas Buyers Club for 4th place), including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Dern), Best Supporting Actress (June Squibb), and for its black-and-white, widescreen digital photography.

Bruce Dern and Jane Fonda star in COMING HOME
Bruce Dern and Jane Fonda in 1978's Coming Home
When veteran actor Dern was lauded with the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his lead performance in Nebraska, he seemed destined for Academy gold 35 years after his first nomination for Coming Home. Now, other industry awards are indicating Matthew McConaughey is in the lead. Thus, if Oscar voters really liked Nebraska, honoring Squibb or Nelson might be the way they'll show it.

OTHER ACCOLADES - Outside the Academy, the script was nominated by BAFTA, the Golden Globes, the Independent Spirit Awards, the WGA, and the Critics’ Choice Awards, while the film scored dozens more nominations, including the prestigious Breakthrough Screenwriter award from the Platinum Brad Screenplay Awards.

READ THE SCREENPLAY - Payne’s 2011 draft was only 87 pages. The final production draft (click here to download a PDF) of the 115-minute movie is four pages longer.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE FIRST-TIME OSCAR-NOMINATED WRITER - Bob Nelson is currently trying to raise funds for The Tribe, a script he wrote for his Almost Live! friend, Joel McHale, which Nelson hopes to make his directorial debut. He also has a script at Pixar, a project with Chris Rock, and is working on a remake of the 2004 French thriller, Intimate Strangers.

The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith (audio podcast)
Collider interview
IndieWire: What's Personal and What's Payne
Huffington Post interview
GoldDerby video chat

This is Part 1 of our 10-part series of profiles on this year's Oscar-nominated screenplays.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Platinum Brad Screenplay Awards


ScripTipps presents the first annual Platinum Brad Screenplay Awards.

WHY? In TV, the writer is king, but in features, the writer is kicked off the set.

The Oscars has two screenplay categories -- Original and Adapted. The Golden Globes only has one (and zero for TV writers). The Spirit Awards doesn't split originals from adaptations either, but they do have a Best First Screenplay category.

The Writers Guild of America recognizes the same Original and Extra Crispy screenplay varieties as the Oscars, plus one award for feature documentary writing. Then they go and hand out seven awards for TV writing, where the majority of their members are employed.

TV writing awards are broken up by genre and format. The Emmys presents writing awards in six categories. But aren't there many different flavors of feature writing too? Is writing a laugh-out-loud apocalyptic stoner comedy a less worthy achievement than adding sluglines to a 150-year-old memoir about slavery? (No offense to John Ridley. He hasn't been snubbed here.)

Here, then, are the nominees in all fifteen categories of the first annual ScripTipps Platinum Brad Screenplay Awards:

Best Screenplay Based on or Inspired by a True Story
  • Captain Phillips - Billy Ray
  • Fruitvale Station - Ryan Coogler
  • Philomena - Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope
  • Saving Mr. Banks - Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
  • 12 Years A Slave - John Ridley

Best Screenplay Based on a Novel

  • The Book Thief - Michael Petroni
  • The Great Gatsby - Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Simon Beaufoy, Michael deBruyn (Michael Arndt)
  • The Spectacular Now - Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
  • Warm Bodies - Jonathan Levine

Best Screenplay Based on a Comic Book, Graphic Novel, or Fairy Tale

  • Blue Is The Warmest Color - Abdellatif Kechiche
  • Frozen - Jennifer Lee
  • Iron Man 3 - Shane Black, Drew Pearce
  • Man Of Steel - David S. Goyer
  • Oldboy - Mark Protosevich

Best Screenplay Based on a Play

  • August: Osage County - Tracy Letts
  • Much Ado About Nothing- Joss Whedon
  • Romeo & Juliet - Julian Fellowes
  • The Sapphires - Tony Briggs, Keith Thompson
  • Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas - Tyler Perry

Best Original Screenplay

  • Don Jon - Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • The East - Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling
  • Her - Spike Jonze
  • Spring Breakers - Harmony Korine
  • This Is The End - Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Best Screenplay Written or Co-Written by the Film's Lead Actor

  • Before Midnight - Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater
  • Don Jon - Joseph Gordon-Levitt
  • The East - Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij
  • Instructions Not Included - Eugenio Derbez, Leticia López Margalli, Guillermo Ríos
  • Philomena - Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope

Best Comedy Screenplay

  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
  • The Heat - Katie Dippold
  • Instructions Not Included -  - Eugenio Derbez, Leticia López Margalli, Guillermo Ríos
  • This Is The End - Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
  • We're The Millers - Sean Anders, Steve Faber, Bob Fisher, John Morris

Best Drama Screenplay

  • All Is Lost - J.C. Chandor
  • Labor Day - Jason Reitman
  • Prisoners - Aaron Guzikowski
  • Short Term 12 - Destin Cretton
  • Spring Breakers - Harmony Korine

Best Horror Screenplay

  • Escape From Tomorrow - Randy Moore
  • Insidious: Chapter 2 - Leigh Whannell
  • Mama - Neil Cross, Andrés Muschietti, Bárbara Muschietti
  • The Purge - James DeMonaco
  • You're Next - Simon Barrett

Best Sci-Fi Screenplay

  • Elysium - Neill Blomkamp
  • Gravity - Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
  • Her - Spike Jonze
  • Pacific Rim - Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro
  • Star Trek Into Darkness - Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci

Best Fantasy Screenplay

  • Epic - Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, James V. Hart, William Joyce, Daniel Shere
  • Frozen - Jennifer Lee
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug - Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh
  • Oz The Great And Powerful - Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire
  • The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - Steve Conrad

Best Superhero Screenplay

  • Iron Man 3 - Shane Black, Drew Pearce
  • Kick-Ass 2 - Jeff Wadlow
  • Man Of Steel - David S. Goyer
  • Thor: The Dark World - Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Christopher Yost, story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat
  • The Wolverine - Mark Bomback, Scott Frank

Best Franchise Screenplay (Sequel, Prequel, Spin-off, Remake, or Reboot)

  • Before Midnight - Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater
  • Despicable Me 2 - Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Simon Beaufoy, Michael deBruyn
  • Monsters University - Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanion
  • Oz The Great And Powerful - Mitchell Kapner, David Lindsay-Abaire

Best Screenplay for an Animated Feature

  • The Croods - Kirk DeMicco, Chris Sanders
  • Despicable Me 2 - Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
  • Ernest & Celestine - Daniel Pennac
  • Frozen - Jennifer Lee
  • Monsters University - Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanion

Breakthrough Screenwriter

  • Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station)
  • Destin Cretton (I Am Not a Hipster, Short Term 12)
  • Richard D'Ovidio (The Call)
  • Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners)
  • Bob Nelson (Nebraska)
  • Andrew Stern (Disconnect)

Vote for your favorite screenplays in the ScripTipps Platinum Brad Screenplay Awards

Now it's your turn to vote for your favorite screenplay. Click here to access the Screenplay Awards official ballot.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscar Nomination Surprises

Last week, ScripTipps correctly predicted four out of five of the Oscar nominees in the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay categories.

How'd we do it?

First, we looked at which scripts were getting the most nominations from five other major award organizations, which revealed a clear Top 9. Then we added a wild-card guess in each category.


DALLAS BUYERS CLUB nominated for Best Original Screenplay Oscar
For originals, we expected the fifth slot might go to the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis (with BAFTA and Critics' Choice nods) over AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club (only in the WGA race), then guessed Gravity would pull an upset over both. Instead, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB got the nod.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar
On the adapted side, we predicted August: Osage County would edge out CAPTAIN PHILLIPS. Wrong again.


Between the two screenplay categories there are ten nominated scripts, but only nine films nominated for Best Picture. Discrepancies: Woody Allen's BLUE JASMINE (original screenplay nominee) and Richard Linklater's BEFORE MIDNIGHT (adapted screenplay nominee) were left off the Best Picture list, while GRAVITY is the only Best Picture nominee without a screenplay nomination.
GRAVITY nominated for Best Picture Oscar but not for Best Screenplay
In the last 50 years, only The Sound of Music (1965) and Titanic (1997) have won Best Picture without screenplay nominations, so Gravity has an uphill battle, though it does have nominations for its direction and editing, and tied 12 Years a Slave for most nominations, which are all historically also strong indicators of a winner.


Spec sales are dinosaurs. Hollywood loves recycling proven ideas from books, comic books, TV shows, plays, foreign films, and old classics. Do they hate original screenplays?

For the first time in seven years, the Best Picture category favors the written-directly-for-the-screen types, with 5 originals and 4 adaptations vying for the top prize. In each of the last two years, the split was 6 adaptations and 3 originals, while it was evenly split in 2010 and 2011, the first two years of the expanded Best Picture category.
THE DEPARTED, a remake, won Best Picture Oscar in 2007, beating four movies with original screenplays
In 2009, when there were still only five Best Picture nominees, 80% of them were adaptations. But in 2007, it was the other way around, when THE DEPARTED, a remake of Hong Kong's Internal Affairs trilogy, beat out four originals.


The writers branch of the Academy picks the screenwriting nominations. All Academy members in the writers branch are presumably WGA members, but not all WGA members are invited to the Academy. Also, the WGA has different eligibility rules, so 12 Years a Slave and Philomena were both ineligible for WGA nominations.
LONE SURVIVOR nominated for WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Therefore, in the adapted category, the two disqualified adapted scripts left room for WGA nominations for August: Osage County and LONE SURVIVOR. The current hit Navy SEAL flick did get two Oscar nominations in technical categories, the same number as The Lone Ranger and The Great Gatsby. (Ranger also picked up five Razzie nominations yesterday, including Worst Screenplay.)

For Best Original Screenplay, all five WGA nominees also get to go to the Oscars.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Academy Award Screenplay Nomination Predictions

Oscar nominations will be announced this Thursday. Here at ScripTipps, we only care about two categories: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay.

The Golden Globes only have one category for feature screenwriting. A surprise win this year, that award went to HER, written and directed by Spike Jonze.
Spike Jonze, Golden Globe winner, Best Screenplay - HER
Screenplay nominations have also been announced for four other award organizations: BAFTA, WGA, Broadcast Critics’ Association (Critics’ Choice), and the Independent Spirit Awards. (SAG, DGA, and PGA don't give screenplay awards.)

How do the rest of the accolades stack up for scribes so far?

Only one screenplay has been nominated by all five organizations: NEBRASKA, a spec script by Bob Nelson, nominated in the Spirit's Best First Screenplay category. Clearly, this script is guaranteed a Best Original Screenplay nomination from the Academy.
Golden Globe nominated screenwriter Bob Nelson (NEBRASKA)
The next most nominated screenplays, with four nods apiece, are AMERICAN HUSTLE by David O. Russell and Eric Singer, BLUE JASMINE by Woody Allen, and 12 YEARS A SLAVE by John Ridley, based on the memoir by Solomon Northrup, which wasn’t eligible for a WGA nomination.

Russell is a recent favorite of the Academy's, nominated twice for directing, with an extra nod last year for his adapted screenplay, Silver Linings Playbook, and Hustle just picked up the Globe for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical, plus lead and supporting actress trophies for Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence, giving it the most wins last night in features.
Jennifer Lawrence won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for David O. Russell's AMERICAN HUSTLE, which also won Best Actress Comedy or Musical (Amy Adams) and Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical
Allen, of course, is a long-time Oscar favorite, with four wins, including three for writing (in 1978, 1987, and 2011) and 19 more nominations (12 of those for writing). Ridley has never been nominated before, but Slave has been the early favorite and picked up the Globes' top prize last night, Best Picture Drama, so an adapted screenplay slot is a given.
Screenwriter John Ridley (12 YEARS A SLAVE)
Screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave)
Scripts with three nominations so far are likely to wind up on Oscar’s shortlist: Before Midnight (adapted), Captain Phillips (adapted), Her (original), Philomena (adapted), and The Wolf of Wall Street (adapted).

This leaves one slot open in the Original Recipe pile. The two most prominent candidates are Inside Llewyn Davis and Dallas Buyers Club. Davis comes from the Coen Brothers, winners of four previous Oscars (two for writing) and nominated nine other times (three for writing). Club’s only script recognition so far is from the WGA.

Last year, Oscar’s screenwriting categories had a few wild cards, like foreign language winner Amour, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, and Beasts of the Southern Wild, none of which lined up significantly with other award ceremonies. The year before that it was Margin Call and foreign language winner A Separation. In 2011, it was Mike Leigh’s unscripted Another Year, following 2010’s surprise nod for the unscripted In The Loop.

For a possible upset in the adapted category, Tracy Letts’ adaptation of his play, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, nominated for a WGA and Critics’ Choice award, could trump anything but Slave. Another unexpected nod could come from this weekend's surprise box office hit Lone Survivor by Peter Berg, which took the WGA nomination they couldn't give to Slave.
Playwright Tracy Letts adapted his play AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY for the 2013 screenplay
Playwright/Screenwriter Tracy Letts (AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY)
Saving Mr. Banks has an outside chance of ousting the Coen Brothers or Woody Allen on the original side, though its script has so far only been recognized by BAFTA’s special Debut British Writer category. A stronger possibility is GRAVITY, the only movie in last year’s top 12 highest grossers that was not part of a franchise. Its screenplay earned a BAFTA nod, and with technical categories factored in, it's expected to place near the top of Oscar's most-nominations race amongst Slave and Hustle.
Father-Son screenwriters Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (GRAVITY)
Father-Son screenwriters Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (GRAVITY)
If a foreign film is going to sneak into the screenplay category again, it could be Italy’s The Great Beauty or Belgium’s The Broken Circle Breakdown.

But enough second-guessing. Throwing in one long-shot in each category, here are our final predictions.

August: Osage County
Before Midnight
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine

Predicted Winners: 12 Years a Slave and Nebraska.

What are your predictions?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Some Actors Do Make Up Their Own Lines

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck won Oscars for their screenplay GOOD WILL HUNTING
In 1997, struggling actors Matt Damon & Ben Affleck wrote their way to stardom when their first screenplay, Good Will Hunting, was produced with themselves in the lead roles. The script won them Oscars and their careers were rolling.

Last year, at least a dozen movies were written or co-written by their lead actors.

12 Movies Written or Co-Written by Their Lead Actors in 2013

Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply star in and wrote BEFORE MIDNIGHT
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy re-teamed to co-write (with director Richard Linklater) and co-star in BEFORE MIDNIGHT, their follow-up to 2004's Before Sunset (which was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, a feat Midnight is expected to repeat). Hawke also starred in The Purge, which opened two weeks after Midnight and grossed eight times as much.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt wrote, directed, and stars in DON JON
50/50 star Joseph Gordon-Levitt got feedback on his first script from his Looper director, Rian Johnson, then dove into directing and starring in his tale of love and internet porn addiction. DON JON also stars Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

Brit Marling co-wrote and stars in THE EAST
Brit Marling (Another Earth) starred in the thriller THE EAST, which she co-wrote with director Zal Batmanglij. It was their second collaboration as writers and their third director/star pairing.

Eugenio Derbez wrote, directed, and stars in Mexico's biggest hit, INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED
Mexican TV star Eugenio Derbez played a Hollywood stuntman forced to raise a child he didn't know he had fathered in INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED. Derbez directed the feature and co-wrote its screenplay with Guillermo Ríos and Leticia López Margalli. Mexico's highest-grossing film of all time, the surprise hit became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film and the fourth-highest-grossing foreign-language film in the U.S.

Steve Coogan co-wrote and stars in PHILOMENA
Best known in the U.K. as fake talk show host Alan Partridge, comedian Steve Coogan turned serious for a while to help an old woman search for the son who was stolen from her by nuns 50 years ago. He co-stars with Dame Judi Dench as PHILOMENA and co-wrote the true story with Jeff Pope.

Seth Rogen plays Seth Rogen in THIS IS THE END, which he co-wrote and co-directed with Evan Goldberg
In Superbad, the first produced script by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the lead characters' first names were Seth and Evan. The writers' fictional counterparts were played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, while Rogen took a supporting role. In the writing duo's directorial debut, THIS IS THE END, the lead character is called Seth Rogen -- played by Seth Rogen -- and faces the Apocalypse with Hill, Cera, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Emma Watson, all playing themselves.

Lake Bell wrote, directed, and stars in IN A WORLD...
Writer, director, star Lake Bell does it all in IN A WORLD... except the voiceover for the trailer. However, she plays a woman who tries to replace her father as king of the movie trailer voiceover artists.

Simon Pegg co-wrote and stars in THE WORLD'S END
THE WORLD'S END, an alien-invasion-during-a-pub-crawl comedy, is the third in a trilogy of films starring Simon Pegg (Star Trek) and co-written by Pegg with director Edgar Wright.

Greta Gerwig co-wrote and stars in FRANCES HA
Greta Gerwig stars in FRANCES HA, which she co-wrote with the black-and-white film's director, Noah Baumbach. They began developing the script while Gerwig was starring in Baumbach's previous film, Greenberg (which Baumbach developed with actress Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Vince Vaughn co-wrote and stars in THE INTERNSHIP, based on his original story
Vince Vaughn has a story by and co-screenwriting credit on THE INTERNSHIP, which re-teamed him with his Wedding Crashers co-star Owen Wilson. Vaughn's co-scriptwriter was Jared Stern, who had also contributed to the screenplays for family films like Bolt, Mr. Popper's Penguins, and Wreck-It Ralph.

Tyler Perry wrote, directed, and stars in TYLER PERRY'S A MADEA CHRISTMAS, based on his play.
Tyler Perry wrote, directed, starred in, and put his name in the title of TYLER PERRY'S A MADEA CHRISTMAS, the seventh film in his Madea franchise, based on his 2011 musical stage play of the same name.

Marlon Wayans co-wrote and stars in A HAUNTED HOUSE
And finally, Marlon Wayans starred in A HAUNTED HOUSE, a parody of "found footage" horror movies, which he co-wrote with Rick Alvarez.

Which was your favorite star-generated script? Which actors do you think might follow in Ben and Matt's screenwriting footsteps to the Academy Awards? Which do you think should stick to their day jobs in front of the camera?

Friday, January 3, 2014

5 Movies I'm Looking Forward to Seeing in 2014

Happy new year! This is normally the time when the industry looks back and bestows awards upon the cream of last year's crop of cinema magic. But let's not forget to also look forward. Here are the five films I'm most looking forward to seeing in 2014.

A group of teens tinker with time travel in Paramount's WELCOME TO YESTERDAY
WELCOME TO YESTERDAY (February 28) - Who doesn't love time travel? Last year's About Time was a bit of a letdown, but I still have hope for this new spin on the genre that looks like Chronicle meets Primer. Shows more promise than the Tom Cruise time-loop war spectacle, Edge of Tomorrow (June 6).

Andy Serkis returns as Caesar in DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (July 18) - The 2011 reboot was one of the most original reimaginings I've ever seen. There are a lot of reasons Dawn could fail to live up to it. James Franco's character, whose drive to find a cure for Alzheimer's brought heart to the franchise, is not returning. And let's face it, the four sequels to the 1968 original were all cash-grabs that stretched the premise thinner than a cheap rubber ape mask. But Rise did such a great job setting up a realistic beginning to the world Charlton Heston would eventually land in that I'm eager to see the next step in this vision of our evolution.

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort star in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (June 6) - Based on a popular cancer book that's more than just a cancer book, about a young girl with cancer who journeys to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive author of a popular cancer book that's more than just a cancer book, this Fox 2000 drama starring Shailene Woodley, the It-girl for YA adaptations (The Spectacular Now, Divergent), is poised to be the surprise hit of the summer.

Johnny Depp in cinematographer Wally Pfister's directorial debut, TRANSCENDENCE
TRANSCENDENCE (April 18) - Not many DPs can successfully transition to directing. Chris Nolan's cinematographer, Wally Pfister, makes his directorial debut with this trippy Black List entry about a scientist (Johnny Depp) who downloads himself into a computer. Looks like it could turn out as visionary as Inception, which earned Pfister his first Oscar.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART 1 (November 21) - Katniss is back. The revolution has finally begun. Francis Lawrence, the director who improved the franchise with last year's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire returns to helm both parts of the epic finale of this four-part trilogy. See you in District 13.

Those are my picks. What movies are you excited about this year?