PGCMAs: Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay (2015)

Posted: February 24, 2016 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PGCMAs

Written by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

PGCMA 2015

*The above image represents 2014’s PGCMA Best Director and Best Picture winner; Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman.

Best Original Screenplay

Olivier Assayas, Clouds of Sils Maria: The actual plot for Clouds of Sils Maria is pretty straightforward; what really shines are the characters and the themes. Everyone here is pretty well-drawn, with the characters played by Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, and Chloe Grace Moretz really resonate. The film also proves to be a very effective meditation on identity, ageing, and relationships. Analysis of the details shows just how well thought out the script is.

Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen, Bridge of Spies: Matt Charman is the one who wrote the original story, while the Coens were brought in to add some flavour and humour in the dialogue. It is those little details that really shine. There are some great dialogue exchanges here which cut to the heart of the film’s themes directly and elegantly. There are a few missteps here and there, but for the most part the film is very well-written.

Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley, Inside Out: Films that create intricate worlds of their own always have an edge for writing awards, and the nuances found in the world of emotions created here would definitely have warranted consideration. However the real strength of Inside Out’s screenplay is the emotional truth the film touches. On top of that, there are some pretty clever lines too.

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight: What I love about the writing here is the way McCarthy and Josh Singer slowly suck in the viewer. The film presents information in a very intelligent way that does a great job of slowly drawing one in. Additionally, I was impressed by the nuance and avoidance of clichés.

Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight: Quentin Tarantino is just as well acclaimed for his writing as he is directing and The Hateful Eight is a great example of why. Not only does the film feature great characters and awesome dialogue, but there’s actually a great thematic resonance to the proceedings. The way Tarantino was able to make a politically charged film which explores racism, both historical and contemporary, while still staying true to his style is really quite amazing.

And the winner is…



Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight


This was definitely the easiest choice I’ve made for the PGCMAs this year. Don’t get me wrong; I like all of the other screenplays a lot, but none of them excelled to the level that The Hateful Eight did. This is a film with a fun characters, sharp dialogue, a well-structured plot with lots of great details, and deep thematic resonance. The script ranks among the best Tarantino has ever written.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Ryan Coogler, Creed: Like Rocky himself, this is a franchise that just won’t stay down. What I really admire about Creed is the way Coogler was able to continue Rocky’s story that was interesting and natural to the character. However the focus here isn’t Rocky himself, but Adonis Creed, who is a well-drawn character and his story is well-realized.

Emma Donoghue, Room: Emma Donoghue adapted Room from her own novel and from my perspective she did an excellent job. That is no small-feat given the disparate tones found in this story. This is an inspiring story which is predicated around a woman’s capture and continuous rape; capturing such a dynamic is not easy. Donoghue does succeed though, in large part thanks to clever shifts in perspective, honest writing, and great characters.

Drew Goddard, The Martian: The Martian is Ridley Scott’s fourth major science-fiction film, but what separates it from his other work is Drew Goddard’s screenplay, which is a lot funnier and more hopeful than the lacks of Alien and Blade Runner. The film is full of all sorts of clever dialogue and Goddard is also smart about knowing when to pull back on the humour and allow a moment to play for drama.

Nick Hornby, Brooklyn: Nick Hornby is an interesting figure who started out writing novels, and now alternates between novels and screenplay adaptations of other author’s work. It’s a unique position but he owns it well. With Brooklyn, the screenplay’s greatest strengths are the well-charted character growth and the avoidance of clichéd melodrama.

Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs: Aaron Sorkin is one of the few screenwriters even casual filmgoers know by name, which is not surprising when you consider his trademark dialogue. With Steve Jobs, the man continues to craft smart, rapid fire dialogue which is biting and often funny. The film also has some poignant moments and while the framing device maybe doesn’t work perfectly, it’s at least unique when compared to most biopics.

And the winner is…



Emma Donoghue, Room


At the end of the day, Emma Donoghue’s screenplay was the most ambitious and risky of the nominees and the fact that it succeeded so thoroughly is quite an achievement. Obviously handling the clashing tones is difficult, but the film really succeeds thanks to its deep characters and the complex emotions the film dwells on. It’s a very intelligent screenplay which has a knowledge of human behaviour and presents a great story.

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