Friday, 9 January 2009

NWI Awards: Best Screenplay

Writing is often the unsung hero of cinema, The foundation keeping things together so well no one even knows that its there. The best films of 2008 in the own way relied on quality scripting, and here is a selection of the best the year had to offer.

Best Screenplay

7) I'm Not There - Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman

Given the high concept nature of this films pitch, if hadn't been for the quality script it may have imploded into a pretentious victim of its own experimentation. But luckily the writing keeps it for the most part on the right side of smug, showing a care for its characters as well as its philosophies.

6) The Visitor - Todd McCarthy

Both this and McCarthy's previous film The Station Agent rely somewhat heavily on quiet introspection. But with the Visitor, perhaps also due to the performances, one is not kept at arm's length from the characters and it becomes much more nuanced because of it. A masterclass in low-key scripting.

5) Persepolis - Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi

Animated films depend on good writing much more then you might think. This film is a proper example of that, with the consistently witty yet moving script lends a real ground for its visual quirkiness.

4) The Savages - Tamara Jenkins

Whilst upon first glance it may seem like another entry to the indie conveyor belt of middle-class alienation and crises, It is actually much more self-deprecating and funny then I expected. A very literate and heartfelt script.

3) Before The Devil Knows You're Dead - Kelly Masterson

In what was a first screenplay for theatre alumni Masterson, this very impressive, dark-toned family melodrama skew crime movie is the kind of script that sets itself up for great acting. He's quietly done Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman a huge favour.

2) The Dark Knight - Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan

Think what you want, but its much, much harder to write a populist masterpiece than an independant one, and The Nolan brothers did a a near herculean job in creating a moving, intelligent and above all entertaining modern classic.

1) There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson

In a very loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!, Anderson creates a brilliant portrait of turn of the century greed and a terrific characterization of that flaw personified in Daniel Plainview.

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