Last Sunday saw the 2021 Oscars crown its winners. Whether you agree or disagree with the Academy’s decisions, and no matter what you think about the awards themselves, there’s always something to be learned. Here’s our take on this year’s Oscars…
This summer may not be unfolding for movie theatres the way anyone had originally planned, but there’s still plenty of movie news to report from this August. Here’s our pick of the news from the last week…
We guarantee to pitch ALL our winners’ scripts to industry, and with two new competitions now open – the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Award 2020 and the Summer 2020 Screenwriting Contest – we already can’t wait to get more great scripts into the hands of top producers! To give you an idea of how we do that, we’ve been giving you an inside look at Ian’s LA Pitching Diary. Here’s the final instalment – featuring more conversations with key decision-makers and a request for scripts from our slate… (more…)
There’s just one week to go until we announce the winner of our first ever Romance and Comedy Award! To celebrate, we put together lists of our favorite films from each genre… and now it’s the turn of the hybrid rom-com genre!
Valentine’s Day is the day to celebrate all things romantic – including movies! And with our first ever Romance and Comedy Award closing just last week, this seemed like the perfect time for us to put together a small list of our favorite romantic films that we think all writers should watch.
The list isn’t intended to be comprehensive, and these aren’t categorically the best the genre has to offer! But they are our favorites, and there are important lessons for writers to learn from all of them this Valentine’s Day…
1. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO
David Lean was on a roll by the time he came to make DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, having just made BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA – and it shows. The bleak wastes of Russia make for a beautiful backdrop, but center stage is a sweeping love story that carries us through the brutality of the country’s political turmoil of the early 20th century. This film is the very definition of the term “epic”. At over three hours long, it shows that if you make the human elements of your story strong enough, it’s still enough to keep an audience engaged for however long.
2. ROMEO + JULIET
There was no way we could compile this list without mentioning the original pair of star-crossed lovers – it was just a question of which version! Special mention goes to the 1968 version, but it’s Baz Luhrmann’s modern re-imagining which gets our vote. The beginning of the film is too hectic, but once the lovers meet it becomes a sumptuous, tragic tale full of stolen moments and forbidden love.The original script was written by some guy called Shakespeare, who seems to have been pretty good at his job: he fills the story with passion, jokes, despair, tragedy and revenge all in one go.
3. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
Memories of a failed romance can be painful – and that’s why Joel and Clementine choose to have theirs erased in Charlie Kaufman’s Oscar-winning script. Like much of Kaufman’s work, it’s a mind-bending concept (literally, in this case), but it’s also a touching exploration of love, loss, and the nature of heartache. Jim Carrey turns in a surprisingly subtle and understated performance that suits him, while Kate Winslet picked up her fourth Oscar nomination for hers, but ultimately it’s the script that powers this beautifully poignant film.
4. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
The first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is either a film about Stockholm Syndrome or how true love looks beyond mere appearances – but we choose to believe the latter. With fantastic animation, catchy songs, and a tale as old as time, this is the perfect example of how to tell a fairytale romance. Just don’t get us started on the live-action remake, which turned the Beast into a jerk and featured a bit too much auto-tune.
Okay, so here’s a bit of a strange one: a man falls in love with the operating system on his computer – and it falls in love with him in return. Another winner of the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, writer-director Spike Jonze takes his unique premise and weaves a touching story about the nature of human relationships… despite one half of the central relationship not being human. But then, that’s part of the reason why it works. It’s an insightful look into the psychology and emotion of love, demonstrating both its vulnerability and its boundlessness.
SPECIAL MENTION: TITANIC
James Cameron’s epic is the gold standard for a lot of people, even if it’s a bit overwrought in our opinion. Its impact and technical achievements can’t be ignored, though.
SPECIAL MENTION: 4 minutes of UP
The “Married Life” segment of Pixar’s UP brings all but the hardiest to tears, charting the entire marriage of Carl and Ellie without a single word being said. Frankly, we’d have included it in our list if it were a film in its own right, but since it’s just a small part of one, it’ll have to make do with a special mention instead.
So there you have it – our favorite romance films. We don’t claim that they’re the best, but they’re the ones that have touched us the most and we think that all writers can learn something from them!
Whatever you think about the Oscars, there’s always something to be learned from them. Last night was no exception: there was the usual number of sure-fire wins mixed with a few shocks that leave us scratching our heads. Here’s our take on what happened at the Oscars 2019…
- The big news of the night was the surprise win of GREEN BOOK for Best Picture. This may not have been the most competitive year for this category, but stacked up against films like BLACKKKLANSMAN and ROMA, it’s still not what we expected. Justin Chang of the Los Angeles Times even went so far as to call it “the worse best Picture winner since Crash“. Ouch. But the main thing to take from this? ROMA might have been the favorite on the night (rather than THE FAVOURITE… okay, it’s a bit confusing) but the Academy isn’t ready to give highest honors to a Netflix film just yet. The big studios continue to guard their territory.
- Spike Lee finally has an Oscar, winning Best Adapted Screenplay for BLACKKKLANSMAN. When it comes to films about race, the Oscars have generally favored less hard-edged material than Lee makes, so at first glance, this looks like it could indicate a shift for film’s biggest awards ceremony. However, that’s all kind of cancelled out because…
- The winner for Best Original Screenplay also went to GREEN BOOK, which has come in for a lot of criticism for perpetuating the “white savior” trope and couldn’t be more of an opposite to BLACKKKLANSMAN if it tried. Take a look at that article from Chang and you’ll see why it’s so confusing that the two screenplay awards went to these two films. On the one hand, a film that takes an intense, no-holds barred look at racism – on the other, a film that deals with it through a feel-good story. One thing is clear – Hollywood still hasn’t figured out how it wants to deal with this kind of subject matter.
- Away from the main controversies, superhero stories are starting to gain some traction at awards ceremonies to go with their popular appeal, with BLACK PANTHER picking up three awards and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE winning Best Animated Feature. This is where the real money is right now – and it looks like there’s even the possibility of picking up some nice shiny awards to go with it.
- On a similar note, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY took home four awards. Even though the only big one here was for Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury, it’s a surprise to see a film that got mixed reviews from critics fare so well at the Oscars. Is the Academy really becoming more democratized to reflect popular opinion? We’ll have to wait and see how next year unfolds…
From a screenwriting perspective, the main thing here is the confusion of seeing two totally contrasting films take home the awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. Here at WriteMovies, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this, with several of our past winners – such as BLACKOUT.COM by Ruben Bush III dealing with this kind of subject matter.
The Oscars 2019 may not have had the drama of the wrong winner being announced for Best Picture like a couple of years ago, but they’ve certainly given us a lot of food for thought…
We continue our Oscars prediction by looking at the big guns in the acting categories…
By Jamie White.
The glitz and the glamour of the Oscars really comes alive when we get to the main acting categories. These categories are arguably the most entertaining and interesting for the general audience, and this year interesting is the right word!
This category seems pretty straight forward, to be honest – even with Daniel Day-Lewis involved!
DARKEST HOUR is one of the most blatant examples of an Oscar-bait film we’ve seen since… well LA LA LAND. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood, after all. But, Churchill just seems like a character that someone would win an Oscar for playing. It’s about time Gary Oldman got one, too.
This category does seem to already be over, and it reminds us of the time Leo won his Oscar – the joke about him never winning was running thin, and the same can be said for Oldman. It would be a genuine shock if Oldman didn’t win this.
Now this category seems more like it! And again, we don’t think the Oscar nominee stalwart in this group (sorry, Meryl!) is gonna come out on top.
For us, we see this as a three-way stand-off between McDormand, Robbie, and Ronan. McDormand is definitely the front-runner, and rightly so. And if the love for McDormand at the BAFTAs is anything to go by, this should be as much a walkover as the male category should be for Oldman.
But for some reason our very own John Sullivan has this voice in the back of his head saying “It’s Margot’s time!” Similar wins have happened in the recent past (see Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone). But, maybe another year, John. This time we’re gonna overrule you! McDormand all the way for us.
© WriteMovies 2017. Exclusive to WriteMovies – To syndicate this content for your own publication, contact ian (at) writemovies dot-com.