PGCMAs: Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay (2013)

Posted: February 4, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson PGCMA 2013*The above image represents 2012’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.

Best Original Screenplay

Woody Allen, Blue JasminePraising a Woody Allen script seems rudimentary at this point, but man can he write. While Blue Jasmine does have Allen’s wit, the film falls in the darker half of Allen’s filmography. The real strength of the screenplay comes in the well-defined characters and the dialogue, particularly Jasmine’s.

Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, and Darius Marder, The Place Beyond the PinesIf one were to watch a given scene in isolation, the magic of the script would not come through. Where the screenwriting shines is in the plot structure. This is a film which can be divided into three sections, but it feels like one seamless story with a rotating cast of characters. The structure also ties into the films themes of legacy and consequences nicely.

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn DavisLike Woody Allen, the Coen Brothers are well-known for their great screenplays and it’s a streak they continue with Inside Llewyn Davis. This is a film full of interesting characters, great dialogue, and a dramatic story with a great blend of wit. There’s also a twist at the end which elevates the film’s themes greatly.

Spike Jonze, HerThe high concept of a man falling in love with his operating system is enough to warrant consideration, but the rest of the script does live up to the concept. The film’s characters are written like real people and there dialogue feels real as well. The film also has a good sense of humour which I appreciated.

David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer, American HustleI almost cut Hustle from the nominees since the film’s biggest problems come from the script. However the script has a lot to praise. I particularly like the interesting characters, the plot twists, and the clever dialogue.

And The Winner Is…

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Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

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All of the scripts have elements I admire, but what puts Inside Llewyn Davis over the top is how it contains all the great elements from the other nominees and it excels at them. The movie has great characters, great dialogue, great humour, great structure, a great story, and a great twist. It’s a script which works in every way and has little to no drawbacks.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Bob Goodman, Batman: The Dark Knight ReturnsThis nominee is really more for Frank Miller since the adaptation stays very close to Miller’s original graphic novel. That said, I give credit to Bob Goodman for knowing what to discard and what not to. The film focuses heavily on the main plot, but the side details which help define the source material remain largely intact.

David Goyer and Christopher Nolan, Man of SteelWhat makes the screenplay for Man of Steel special is how it makes the familiar feel fresh. Superman’s origin story is well-known, but this version really fleshes out the science-fiction aspects as well as presenting a unique take on Krypton. The film is also structured in a way which presents the important elements of Superman’s past while keeping things exciting.

Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke, Before MidnightBefore Midnight can be summed up as a series of conversations. Given that, the writing needs to be really spot on otherwise the film completely fails. Thankfully, Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke really excel delivering some great dialogue while subtly evolving the characters, the story, and the themes.

John Ridley, 12 Years a SlavePerhaps what John Ridley deserves the most praise for is for what he doesn’t do. In writing a film about slavery, it would have been easy for the film to fall into sentimentality or cliché. But Ridley never does this. Instead, his writing constantly feels authentic and real.

Terrence Winter, The Wolf of Wall StreetIf nothing else, Terrence Winter deserves credit for taking almost a decade of debauchery and excess and turning it into a workable story. Additionally, Winter adds a lot of very funny comedy to the film and the fourth wall breaking is genuinely clever.

And The Winner Is…

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Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight

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This is without a doubt the screenplay of the year. Not only does the film rely on its writing more than any other 2013 film, but the writing itself is sublime. The conversations are thought provoking while still feeling authentic and I love how through conversation, Linklater, Delpy, and Hawke are able to subtly expand on the characters and their story, as well as ponder some larger themes.

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