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.

The Amazing Spider-Man — review

Adapted by James Vanderbilt, Steve Kloves and Alvin Sargent from The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

 

Did you know Spider-Man is the highest-grossing fictional character? When taking into account everything, merely including cinema, he’s earned more money than any other character. So it’s no surprise Columbia Pictures want to keep the character. The Amazing Spider-Man was originally Spider-Man 4, but numerous reasons lead to it being a reboot. This meant re-telling his origin story, introducing a new actor as Spider-Man and reinventing the franchise. Many of the positive reviews I give are often due to me considering something to be an accomplishment, and The Amazing Spider-Man is definitely an accomplishment. Because never, in anything else, have I found myself being so immersed in a story because of the combination between character and actor. Andrew Garfield was the perfect casting choice, due to his subtle nuances and ability to make Peter Parker the everyboy, while also showing him to be extraordinary.

As someone’s who never read a single issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, it’s never been a part of me. And I haven’t, as yet, seen any of the original trilogy. This was the first Spider-Man-related product I was exposed to, and that makes me see it as the perfect representation of what that world is probably like. Hiring Mark Webb, the director of (500) Days of Summer, was a genius move. Too many people make the mistake of labelling genres based on setting, rather than characters. The Amazing Spider-Man is, based on Peter Parker’s relationship with Gwen Stacy, a teen comedy drama. And it’s the Parker/Stacy relationship that’s at the heart of the story, and his transformation into Spider-Man is just a part of that. It’s a part of that story, rather than being the story. Which is totally the right way to do  it – I care more about who’s under the mask, and what’s going on in his life. Everything is attached to the romance plot, and the whole story feels imbued with it. There’s a magic to it, because we find ourselves instantly loving our lead actor and protagonist, as well as a darkness, because of the themes and what the characters go through. But ultimately, as is every story, the latter is the most important thing. It’s a story about characters who come closer together because they’re missing something. Parker’s missing his parents, and this brings him closer to Stacy. Stacy’s Father dies, and this brings her closer to Parker. Uncle Ben dies, and this brings Aunt May closer to Parker. The only person who doesn’t come closer to someone is Curtis Connors, who’s missing his arm. And he deals with that through scientific means, rather than emotional means. One of the things about Spider-Man is his ability to be an emotional character, and can show us – because he’s the Everyboy – that emotion is an advantage. Emotion is at the heart of the story, and the story is about how emotion will save us. Spider-Man isn’t like Batman; he doesn’t deal with his trauma by beating people, and he isn’t like Superman, by snapping necks because of his anger. Spider-Man lets it out, shows us it’s going to be okay, and is able to still be happy. We like Peter Parker because he’s happy, despite everything. It’s a bittersweet tale of a person who’s learned to appreciate things, and I’d say that’s what makes The Amazing Spider-Man stand-out as a motion picture: it’s the story of the man behind the mask. It’s about Peter Parker. Others could be Spider-Man, but only he can make him amazing.

And for the first time, we have a character transformed into a superhero, who actually freaks out about becoming a superhero. Were I to acquire superpowers, my initial reaction would be “Holy fuckballs, I’m a fucking superhuman!” They’re only fiction, and in becoming Spider-Man, he embraces it in the most believable way. Which is to go “Ahahahahahaha! Screw you guys, I’ve got superpowers”. Don’t lie – you’d do it. As Webb had only really directed independents up until this point, he’d learned to check the egos at the door. The story isn’t about promoting the characters, it’s just showing us them, and letting us appreciate them for what they are. In Batman adaptations (which I don’t dislike), his most common phrase is “I’m Batman!”, and Superman is dripping with egomania. But this isn’t about the superhero, it’s about the secret identity, and unlike others that attempt to do this, actually seems to know how. That’s why I’ve constantly referred him to as Peter Parker, not Spider-Man. Because one of those is an alias. Only one of them’s a character.

The Amazing Spider-Man: the superhero genre’s Citizen Kane. 8/10