Oscar Spotlight: The Screenplays


Oscar Spotlight: The Screenplays
Source: Culture

“We didn’t need dialogue,” Norma Desmond tells a young screenwriter in “Sunset Boulevard,” recalling her silent-film-era glory days. “We had faces!” Screenwriters famously suffer all sorts of indignities—dumb studio notes, credit squabbles—but now and then they get to win Oscars. Norma’s heyday was just fading when the first Academy Awards were held, in 1929; the three writing categories that year were Best Original Story, Best Adapted Story, and (for the first and last time) Best Title Writing. It took several decades for the categories to settle into the modern dichotomy of Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay, though the distinction can be tricky: originality, of course, is relative. This year’s nominees draw on a wide range of sources, including the untold history of NASA, Jacques Demy musicals, science fiction, several lost mothers, and two plays about black life half a century apart. They are:

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