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We need to do something about the screenplay categories

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  • CanadianFan
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    #192249


    I mean, the arbitrary rulings are ridiculous. ‘Whiplash’ is adapted because it came from a short film (that the original filmmaker wrote!), yet movies based off of real events which use research from a ton of documents (‘Zero Dark Thirty’) can be original. Don’t even get me started on the bullshit classification of ‘Before Midnight’ as an adapted screenplay because it is a sequel with the same characters from a previous film. 

    Merge the categories and cap it at ten nominees with no regard for classification. This would prevent some worthy screenplay nominees from getting snubbed solely due to their category being more competitive.

    Thoughts? 

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    babypook
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    #192251

    You make valid points; “original” isnt always technically original and “adapted” can be a slippery slope;  but I dont like the idea of merging both Adapted and Original into one big ball.

    Although both take immense skill, OS is the category which intrigues me more. It’s more difficult for starters; no template, no established characters, and so on.

    I’d like to see them restructure their rules so that fewer worthy screenplays are excluded. They’ve been more, shootfromthehip reactive lately, given their history.

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    KyleBailey
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    #192252

    Yeah I have issues with “Based on a True Story” movies being in Original Screenplay. Was The King Speech really original? The words yes but not the characters. I liked Whiplash’s placement in adapted because it wasn’t probably going to make the cut in Original. 

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #192253

    I don’t have a problem with a biopic being an original screenplay if there’s no specific source material. Almost any writing requires research. If you’re writing an original movie about, say, lawyers and you do a lot of research about lawyers, read a lot of books that inform what you write, that doesn’t necessarily make it an adapted screenplay, anymore than if you write a new script based on a historical figure.

    But I agree about some of the weird classifications. “Whiplash” as an adapted screenplay is kinda silly. It wasn’t adapted from the short film. The short film was made to get financing for an already-planned feature film as far as I remember. And sequels being “adapted” just because they’re sequels is also silly. If you can write a brand new original screenplay based on a historical figure, then you can write a brand new original screenplay based on pre-existing characters, especially if it’s by the same filmmakers — different from straight-out remakes of course, like “The Departed,” which is certainly adapted.

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    babypook
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    #192254

    I don’t have a problem with a biopic being an original screenplay if there’s no specific source material. Almost any writing requires research. If you’re writing an original movie about, say, lawyers and you do a lot of research about lawyers, read a lot of books that inform what you write, that doesn’t necessarily make it an adapted screenplay, anymore than if you write a new script based on a historical figure.

    But I agree about some of the weird classifications. “Whiplash” as an adapted screenplay is kinda silly. It wasn’t adapted from the short film. The short film was made to get financing for an already-planned feature film as far as I remember. And sequels being “adapted” just because they’re sequels is also silly. If you can write a brand new original screenplay based on a historical figure, then you can write a brand new original screenplay based on pre-existing characters, especially if it’s by the same filmmakers — different from straight-out remakes of course, like “The Departed,” which is certainly adapted.

    I see your point, but neither am I  entirely sure. I’ll use Clan of The Cave Bear as an example (the novel…I’ve tried to forget the film version). This woman spent years in the library, and it shows. Also, she speaks of natural medicine in ways where I could not disagree with any of it. This doesnt happen overnight. But she uses original characters to build her novel, based on artifacts and other finds and the geography of those times. The novel itself is original. Very original. She had no character templates the way Hooper/Seidler does with The King’s Speech, for example, as Kyle rightfully points out.

    Gach. Very complicated.

    Personally, if I had a book novel or short story, essay etc, to follow, although it would also have its’ challenges, I’d find it “easier” in that I have something to follow or use as a base.

    Therefore, I simply cant see a merging of “Original” and “Adapted”. Stellar examples? The Matrix, and The Godfather. Imagine both being in the same category. No way, imo.

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    CanadianFan
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    #192255

    My issue stems from one category being much better than the other. 

    Because the lines are so arbitrary (in my opinion), I do not think they are awarding the two best screenplays of the year. So, in these instances, screenplays that may be #6 in original are snubbed even though they are better than all of the adapted ones. An expansion would allow the ten best screenplays, regardless of classification, to be recognized.

    I realize that this change is radical, and probably won’t be implemented any time soon, but the Academy could even do something unprecedented and give an Oscar to the two screenplays that receive the highest number of votes (out of the ten nominees). If they’re both “original”, who cares? At least they would be honoring the two screenplays that the collective group of voters thought were the best of the year instead of awarding two screenplays based off of sketchy criteria (which only serves to anoint an undeserving winnner).

    Of course, this could start a confusing precedent, but there are no easy solutions here.

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    Jake
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    #192256

    I think it’s fine as it is. There are still 10 screenplays recognized. I am also the one that prefers Original Screenplay category over Adapted (the former is my favorite Oscar category, BTW) but the latter had longer history and sometimes can be stronger, like for example in 2002. Merging them would be a terrible idea, even with 10 nominees (what?) and 2 winners (WTF?!) because writing adapted screenplay from a material that already exists is something different than writing something original. Classification of some movies can lead to discussions but overall it’s all good and I like it this way more than the changes you want to make.

    Sequels are required to be adapted because its story takes place in the same universum as the previous films. That’s the difference. “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” would be requied to contend in adapted but if I would decide to write a screenplay about the subject, it would be original if I would base it only on my research and not something that was already written.

    I think they’ve made the right decision about “Whiplash” – short film was first and so it will be never known for sure (theoretically) if the screenplay wasn’t actually adapted from that. Academy doesn’t need to look for the answers. And I don’t agree about “Whiplash” being snubbed as original screenplay – it would get nominated over “Nightcrawler” (which would be a shame) thus maybe opening a slot in adapted for “Gone Girl”. 

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    CanadianFan
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    #192257

    The difference is that I don’t believe the skills needed to write an adapted screenplay compared to writing an original screenplay (requiring the separation) trump the fact that one category is way better than the other, and deserving writers are snubbed because of it.

    I am surprised that universum is a word.

     

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    KyleBailey
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    #192258

    I agree with that. Something like Zero Dark Thirty was probably more simple than something like Django Unchained. Zero had a beginning, middle, and end already plotted out. Things like Django and Moonrise Kingdom were created with nothing but imagination to rely on.  

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    Jake
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    #192259

    I am surprised that universum is a word.

    I meant universe but as long as you get what I wanted to say, it’s all fine.  

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    Deniz Sisman
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    #192260

    Adapted Screenplay category is completely unnecessary. It reminds me of billions of sub-categories for Mini/Movie genre in the Emmys. There will never be a full of 5 deserving candidates in the same year,so there will always be someone who will be cheating the system.
    I mean how deserving was The Imitation Game last year? Or any other previous winners in that category? Were they really Oscar-worthy?

    I’d say destroy the category the entriely or shorten it to 2 or 3 possible contender . So no insecure writers wouldn’t think about try to push their luck in that area.

    In theoretically it seems like a good thing when more writers are being acknlodgwed for their work. But this is Holywood and the more you give them a slot, the more they screw up with their choices. If there’s 5 slots for Directing, why should it be 10 for Writing?

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    DominicCobb
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    #192261

    I agree with that. Something like Zero Dark Thirty was probably more simple than something like Django Unchained. Zero had a beginning, middle, and end already plotted out. Things like Django and Moonrise Kingdom were created with nothing but imagination to rely on.  

    Not necessarily. Though ZD30 is based on true events, Boal had to do some immense research to uncover that story. And then he had to turn it into an engaging 150 page screenplay. In some ways Tarantino had the easy job – creating something that doesn’t have to be tied down by historical accuracy or research. Besides, it’s not like his script was whole cloth anyway. His stuff is always just a collage of older movies. (as an aside, I think Tarantino should have won in 2009 and Boal in 2012, not the other way around)

    Point is writing a screenplay is ALWAYS a challenge. Some challenges are just harder than others. If the Best Original Screenplay category was the MOST Original Screenplay category, then it’d be interesting. But it’s not, and so we often get scripts that are not necessarily the best original screenplays in that category just because their films have a lot of buzz. An adapted screenplay is a different challenge but still a challenge. And just because it’s not “original” doesn’t mean it’s not as good. It’d of course be great if these categories meant what they were supposed to but it’s almost impossible to police.

    I’d second Canadian Fan’s suggestion if not for the fact that there would only be one winner, rather than two. 

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    Riley
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    #192262

    The line makes no sense.  Maybe there are slightly different skill sets required for the various types of screenplays, but they are ultimately all screenplays, so you cannot say that a Best Screenplay award would be inaccurate or random like the current setup.  Every film is different anyway, so it is arguable that there are apples and oranges competing in tons of categories anyway.

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