Though most of the Oscar buzz for “Dolemite is My Name” is going to Eddie Murphy for his performance as real-life comedian Rudy Ray Moore, the Netflix biopic could also bring screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski their long overdue first nominations.
That’s right, the duo behind “Ed Wood” (1994), “The People vs. Larry Flynt” (1996), “Man on the Moon” (1999) and “Big Eyes” (2014) have never been invited to the Oscar ceremony as nominees. This despite winning the Golden Globe for penning “Flynt,” earning a WGA nomination for “Ed Wood” and picking up an Independent Spirit bid for “Big Eyes.” They’re also the team behind FX’s “American Crime Story” anthology, for which they won Emmys and PGA prizes for Best Limited Series in 2016 (“The People v. O.J. Simpson”) and 2018 (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace”).
Could “Dolemite,” a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Moore’s 1975 blaxploitation classic, finally bring them to the Oscar ceremony? They’re helped by their overdue narrative. And while Hollywood writers don’t always get credit for a film’s success, Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman refers to Alexander and Karaszewski as “the film’s true auteurs,” a duo that created “the genre I think of as Biopics About the People You Wouldn’t Make Biopics About.” “Dolemite” is part of “that tasty offbeat tradition of can you believe this? outer-fringes-of-pop ironic celebration.”
Other reviewers have heralded the team’s work as well. David Ehrlich (Indiewire) praises their “well oiled script,” while David Edelstein (Vulture) believes they give Murphy “his best material in decades.” And Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) acknowledges their “amazing track record” and says “their streak continues with this nomination-worthy piece of work, filled with comedic set pieces that jump off the page.”
It would be sweetly serendipitous for the duo to earn their first Oscar bid for a film that harkens back to their most heralded script. Like “Ed Wood,” “Dolemite” shows love and appreciation for cinema’s fringe players who pour their hearts and souls into moviemaking, despite lacking the resources or technical know-how. A lot of Oscar voters can probably relate to that can-do spirit.
Their passion for Moore is matched only by Murphy’s, and together they create an entertaining behind-the-scenes story about the importance of never giving up on yourself, even when the odds are stacked against you. So Alexander and Karaszewski shouldn’t give up on their own Oscar chances either.
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