The Grand Budapest Hotel — review

Winner:
British Academy Film Award for Best Original Screenplay
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Best Screenplay
Florida Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Original Screenplay
Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards for Best Original Screenplay
London Film Critics' Circle Awards for Screenwriter of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards for Best Screenplay
National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Screenplay
New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Screenplay
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle awards for Best Original Screenplay
Online Film Critics Society Awards for Best Original Screenplay
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards for Best Original Screenplay
Toronto Film Critics Association Awards for Best Screenplay
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Screenplay
Writers Guild of America Awards for Best Original Screenplay

Screenplay by Wes Anderson.

To the general public, The Grand Budapest Hotel appeals to the Oscars because it changes its aspect ratio, and they love that sort of thing. What a lot of people simply aren’t aware of is that it doesn’t just change its aspect ratio to be arty, but switches between three to indicate the point in time of the story: 1.33:1 for 1932, 2.3:1 for 1968 and 1.85:1 for 1985 onwards. Now I’m a screenwriter, not a cinematographer, so I had to research what those different aspect ratios are, but because they’re relevant. The narrative’s structured around the book The Grand Budapest Hotel, published in 1985, with the scenes in 1968 being the writer’s experiences it recounts, and 1932 is the story he’s told. A story within a story within the story. And all indicated through altering aspect ratios. Motion pictures should tell stories visually, and a complicated structure like this could become confusing for the audience. But by employing that kind of cinematography, the layers of it are shown. You always know where you are, and you’re never lost in the story. The smaller the picture, the further into the layers you’ve gone. It’s a complicated undertaking for Anderson, but such a simple change like that keeps it coherent and smooth-running.

Which is strange, because none of that is described in the screenplay. All Anderson does is dictate the time period of that scene, so I can only assume the idea to aspect ratio was either already present, given he also directed, or came later.

But the best part is that The Grand Budapest Hotel doesn’t need this. The story would still be coherent if the 1.85:1 aspect ratio remained the same throughout, because the production design also indicates time period. The fact that it’s there isn’t a gimmick, though, as it does serve a purpose, and enhances what you’re watching because it all looks very contemporary. My point is that had a different director not done so, it would have still been entertaining to watch.

Because the dialogue is all very anachronistic. Words like “piss”, “fag” and “cunt” are used in 1932 as if it’s 2014, and it creates a disconnect from the setting. It’s like watching a parody of something else, where the screenplay and the actors are self-aware of the fact that it’s all pretend, and use modern terms as a wink to the knowing audience. That, and the way the story’s divided into acts: the prologue, M. Gustave, Madame C.D.V.u.T.Check-point 19 Criminal Internment CampThe Society of the Crossed KeysThe Second Copy of the Second Will and the epilogue. What we get is an anthologised serial bookended by the framing device of flashbacks, signalled by changing aspect ratios. It’s like a picture within a picture within a picture. Three, small frames collected together. But each with their own story happening – independent of each other, but still connected, with knowing, parodical dialogue that only Anderson could write. Of course, Ralph Fiennes made it work, but it was on Anderson’s dialogue. All of his characters are quirky, but H. is also one of the sickest. The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t a comedy, but it has elements of comedy, because of the dark dialogue. H. just doesn’t care about the things that come out of his mouth, and yet everything he says is hilarious. Partially because the people receiving it honestly deserve it, but also because he’s entitled to that painting while also trying to run a hotel, and everyone keeps bothering him. And in his quest to retrieve the painting, and the farce that unfolds as he does so, gives it an air of old cinema, along the lines of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy. But it’s made in the modern day, so it’s able to take more liberties with social representations and word choice. And Anderson played-off this to give us a delightful mix of old and new.

The Grand Budapest Hotel — surrealist tribute to old cinema 7/10.

Wes Anderson and Anthony McCarten win Screenplay awards at 68th Film BAFTAs

After weeks of hype and anticipation, the BAFTAs announced the winners of their two screenplay awards.

Wes Anderson won Best Original Screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Anthony McCarten won Best Adapted Screenplay for The Theory of Everything, based on Travelling to Infinity: my Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, which also won Outstanding British Film.

Best Film was awarded to Boyhood by Richard LinklaterStephen Beresford won Outstanding Debut for a writer, while Best Non-English Film went to Ida by Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Paweł Pawlikowski. Best Animated Film was The Lego Movie by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Best Animated Short was awarded to The Bigger Picture by Jennifer Majka and Daisy Jacobs. Best Short Film in live-action was Boogaloo and Graham by Ronan Blaney.

The 69th British Academy Awards haven’t announced a ceremony date or nominees.

BAFTA Film Awards – 2015 Original Screenplay nominations

The BAFTA Film Awards airs tonight at 21:00 on BBC One HD, and will announce, among other things, the winners of the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay awards.

Wes Anderson‘s The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel takes place, for the most part, entirely within the titular building, where a murder occurs, prompting concierge Gustave H. to prove his innocence, which takes him through the various parts of the hotel. Inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig and his real-world travels, Anderson planned the story with Hugo Guinness, which is divided into six acts: PrologueM. GustaveMadame C.V.D.u.T.Check-point 19 Criminal Internment CampThe Society of the Crossed KeysThe Second Copy of the Second Will and Epilogue.

The character H. was inspired by someone Anderson and Guinness both knew. When creating him, the original screenplay draft was a short, and not set in the past or a hotel. Anderson was inspired to revise it when discovering Zweig’s writings. Beware of Pity influenced the opening scenes, which Zweig used in his other writings, in-which a character living on the edge of society meets an equally interesting character, which is how The Grand Budapest Hotel begins. Zweig’s further influences in the screenplay involve the decline of an empire, developing division and declining independance.

Anderson’s previous nominations include The Royal Tenenbaums with Owen Wilson.

Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash

Chazelle’s Whiplash was nominated by The Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay, whereas The BAFTA Film Awards have nominated it for Best Original Screenplay. To encourage interest and funding, Chazelle produced a short film from an extract of the screenplay, which The Oscars determine to make the finished product an adaptation. The BAFTA Film Awards determined it to only be an adaptation of itself, and therefore be considered an original screenplay.

Artistic inspiration behind Whiplash can be found in Chazelle’s previous work, Grand Piano, in-which a pianist will be killed by a sniper if he plays a wrong note. This situation is threaded through Whiplash, with playing out-of-time causing music teacher Terrance Fletcher to become violent and aggressive. Writing Whiplash began as reaction to writing another screenplay, which wasn’t working. Chazelle instead began focusing on his other idea of being a jazz drummer, based on his own experiences with a real teacher. It was for this reason that he initially didn’t want to share the screenplay, which felt “too personal”, and for a long time it was in a drawer. It eventually gained interest from producers, but not enough for any to fund it. The Black List ranked it among the top unproduced screenplays of the year, leading to it being greenlit.

This is Chazelle’s first nomination.

Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler

Gilroy’s aim with Nightcrawler was to write a screenplay with a “moral darkness” that would highlight Los Angeles’ best aspects. In that way, it counterbalanced the sociopathic tendancies of Louis Bloom with news media’s own sociopathic nature. It works as a form of alternative psychology, by presenting sociopathy as a scale, and presenting the numerous ways it can manifest in all people. The vulnerability of the characters is another key element to it, which also balanced the sociopathic themes, which both bring-out each other.

Nightcrawler was inspired by Arthur Fellig. the first crime photographer to follow events with a police scanner in his car, who inspired others to do the same. Part of Bloom’s character was inspired by Weegee’s biopic, Howard Franklin‘s The Public Eye. Gilroy based Bloom on a coyote, nocturnal animals often seen around Los Angeles late at night that are never. From there, he wrote Bloom as never being fed spiritually, with his hunger extending itself with every feeding. Bloom’s addicted to the scenes he photographs. This hunger’s the catalyst of his success story, which Gilroy says made him not want to label Bloom with a label that reduces his character. He has sociopathic tendencies, but from a desire to be a self-employed business owner, which is also a very Human feeling.

This is Gilroy’s first nomination.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo‘s Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

The majority of praise for Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has focused on its metatextuality within 2010 cinema. During the peak of the superhero genre trend, it presented the audience with an out-of-work Michael Keaton, who’s career was made with Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren‘s Batman and and Daniel Waters‘ Batman Returns. Here, Keaton’s Riggan Thomas attempts to stage a comeback through directing a production of When we Talk About When we Talk About Love. Along the way, he encounters Edward Norton of Zak Penn‘s The Incredible Hulk. In this version, Norton is an actor in a similar situation, not only being a further reflection of Keaton’s declining career as a former superhero, but as Norton’s own status as having been replaced as the character in Joss Whedon‘s Marvel’s the Avengers by Mark Ruffalo (also nominated for Best Supporting [Male] Actor as Dave Schultz in E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman‘s Foxcatcher). Also appearing as Sam Thomas is Emma Stone, who’s most famous role – arguably – is Gwen Stacy in James VanderbiltAlvin Sargent and Steve Kloves‘ The Amazing Spider-Man, before being killed-off by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Jeff Pinkner in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s Stone who’s nominated for Best Supporting [Female Actor], due in part to a scene in-which she talks of how nobody really matters. It’s this theme of being dispensable that makes it a story of people who are existing on the edges of their own existence. It may be a meta-parody of the superhero genre, but more than that is it a Human interest.

This is their first nomination.

Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood

Though showing the life of a family over twelve years, Boyhood was scripted and followed a pre-constructed narrative that was altered with every year’s filming in collaboration with the cast. Linklater called it a document of time, though it resembles a documentary to show the indistinction between fiction and non-fiction. The screenplay’s a compilation of smaller screenplays written every year that follow-on, like an inconsistently-lengthed serial. But it still feels like one story, with each year’s segment remaining part of the same thing, rather than seguing into tangents. This was largely a result of the collaboration with the actors, who also began to know where the characters were themselves going. Linklater wanted each year not to noticeably transition, but to only exist through perception, with the effect of the film being emotion created by realising the passage of time. It relied on the audience’s nostalgia, and the emotion that comes that hindsight.

This is Linklater’s first nomination.

Where to see BAFTA’s Best Screenplay nominations

The most important day in the industry is almost upon us, and BAFTA’s Best Screenplay nominations have been announced. These are the products considered to have the best story, and you can see them all now:

Original

Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is now available on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, Michel Litvak, and David Lancaster’s Whiplash is now playing.

Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler hasn’t been released.

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo’s Birdman is now playing.

Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood is now playing.

Adapted

Jason Hall’s American Sniper is now playing.

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is now available on Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. (“Worth buying” – Jeremy Jahns)

Paul King and Hamish McColl’s Paddington is now playing.

Anthony McCarten‘s The Theory of Everything is now playing.

Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game is now playing.

 

The 68th British Academy Film Awards will be simulcast on 2nd February on BBC One and BBC Three.

 

2014’s winners were Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell’s American Hustle for Best Original Screenplay and Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope’s Philomena for Best Adapted Screenplay.