Oscars Screenwriting: Be Popular or Be Good

What do Michael ArndtMark Boal, David Seidler and Sofia Coppola have in common? Hint: it has to do with a carpet that is red and a man that is small, heavy and gold. Chances are, you’ve seen at least one of their films – Little Miss Sunshine (Arnt), The Hurt Locker (Boal), The Kings Speech (Seidler) and Lost in Translation (Coppola).  

These artists have won the race to the red carpet, beating out  box office smashers such as Quentin Tarantino (Inglorious Basterds), Christopher Nolan (Inception) and  Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labrinth).

In Coppola’s case, her screenplay won over two different teams of writers, authors who had previously wrote favorites like Finding Nemo and WALL-E.

What’s Good is Not Always Popular

In an industry of storytelling, no matter what your story is telling, it is a rare occurrence that you will have everyone that views your work in your corner–and the winners and nominees of the esteemed Oscar are no exception.

Controversy often surrounds the Oscars, and it usually suggests the Academy gets seduced by big-budget marketing. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has definitely had its share of scuffles, boycotts and award refusals, concerning everything from the integrity of the Academy’s award choices to their treatment of Native Americans (watch the video here).

But let’s face it–everyone has an opinion. Still, some of the winners in this category are pretty surprising. When David Seidler won last year for The King’s Speech, I had no big opposition to that choice. But over the past decade, I’ve noticed a few choices that bewildered me, specifically films like Godsford Park (2001) and Juno (2007).

Who’s Gonna Take You Home (This Year)?

Whoever takes home the 2012 Best Original Screenplay award (as well as for the other categories), their victory is likely to be surrounded by controversy. The barbs are already flying (see comments).

Who do you think will win the race for the little, heavy, gold man? And whose films will be left behind?


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