Thank you

Posted by · 4:50 pm · February 4th, 2009

Since I was talking about original screenplays earlier today, I was interested to see that Jeff Wells is also on the topic. He offers a brief rundown of the nominees for Saturday’s WGA Awards, and offers this theory on why Jenny Lumet missed out on both Guild and Oscar nods for “Rachel Getting Married”:

Lumet’s screenplay didn’t render enough bombast and sword thrusts in the big-money confrontation scene between Anne Hathaway and Debra Winger. They start to get into the “why did you leave me with him?” issue, Winger freaks and slaps and then Hathaway runs out — not satisfying!

I’m not sure ‘bombast’ is the word I’d use (I rather think more subtlety was called for), but I’m glad to see that scene singled out — for me, it was a lazy, artificial bit of dramatic shortcutting that caused the film’s whole emotional construction to fall apart somewhat. Anyway, old news and apropos of nothing really, but I’m glad someone else said it.

As for the WGA, we all know Simon Beaufoy is taking the adapted category. Does Dustin Lance Black win original by default, since he’s the only Oscar nominee of the bunch? I guess so — barring a surge of peer affection for four-time winner Woody Allen. But if Black does lose — not likely, of course — I wouldn’t fancy his Oscar chances much. Just an idle thought.

→ 16 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 2-04-2009 at 5:14 pm

    Brian Kinsley said...

    Considering the script for Milk was one of the most, if not the most, maligned part of the movie, I see Woody winning this and Stanton the Oscar.

    I wonder if that scene isn’t as much as Lumet fuckup as a Demme/editing fuckup.

  • 2 2-04-2009 at 5:21 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Really? For me “Milk” has clearly the best original screenplay of the year, “Burn After Reading” coming in second.

    It’s a shame “Rachel Getting Married” wasn’t nominated, a brilliant, naturalistic and dynamic script that explored character relations so beautifully.

  • 3 2-04-2009 at 5:28 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Brian: I have the same theory about “Milk” — that script just doesn’t strike me as an award-level thing. I’m thinking Black will eke out a WGA win, but Allen certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

    And yeah, I blame Demme too, but I can’t help feeling Lumet simply didn’t know what to do with her characters at that point.

  • 4 2-04-2009 at 5:33 pm

    King said...

    We all appreciate your opinions, and your columns are always a well-spoken, interesting, and entertaining read, but seriously, why do I always feel like you have this HUGE probelm with Rachel Getting Married…..

    It IS one of the best movies this year, with one of the best female performances this year, and with a very large fanbase

    And I happen to think like English, Jenny Lumet’s script was a brilliantly naturalistic and dynamic script, it is a shame that it was over-looked. It didn’t even feel like dialogue on a page, it was real life….

  • 5 2-04-2009 at 5:40 pm

    The InSneider said...

    I love the Siegel nod. Aronofsky and Mickey have been hogging all the attention but you can’t argue that Rob did a hell of a job. And I agree with those above, that RGM was great and Jenny’s script was sorely overlooked. I mean, the Coens, are you kidding me? Thank God Kaufman was left off!

  • 6 2-04-2009 at 5:40 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    On the topic of Rachel, was I the only person who felt like the actual wedding lasted way too long? It stops the interesting bit (you know, the family interaction?) to a screeching halt for what felt like 20 minutes. I must have missed the point. If it was meant to be evocative, it only evoked boredom and being that person that really doesn’t want to be there.

    As for WGA, a win without an Oscar nod isn’t unheard of. Remember when Bowling for Coulumbine won Original Screenplay?

  • 7 2-04-2009 at 5:56 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    King: I don’t have a huge problem with “Rachel Getting Married” at all. In fact, there are a number of things I like about it — the music and sound design, Tim Squyres’ editing and, best of all, Rosemarie DeWitt’s superb performance. (I thought Anne Hathaway was very good too, if not quite nomination-worthy.)

    However, I thought it had some critical flaws in the script, with Lumet handling conflict and reconciliation in a slightly glib manner, and dropping narrative bombshells in ways that didn’t feel organic to the characters, to me at least. As such, I thought the film didn’t live up to its potential.

    So yes, I was disappointed by it, but to assume I have some kind of grudge against the film is just silly. Responding to art isn’t such a black-and-white business.

    And using capital letters to say it IS one of the year’s best doesn’t make that any more of a fact than if I were to say it IS one of the year’s most overrated. Level heads, please.

  • 8 2-04-2009 at 5:59 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***On the topic of Rachel, was I the only person who felt like the actual wedding lasted way too long? It stops the interesting bit (you know, the family interaction?)***

    Except it IS part of the character interaction.

  • 9 2-04-2009 at 6:00 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Sorry, “family interaction.”

  • 10 2-04-2009 at 6:18 pm

    RichardA said...

    My explanation for the Rachel Got Married snub is that it was too much like Ordinary People.

    My other explanation for Rachel Got Married snub is that rich from Connecticut gets no sympathy. Even if one of your daughter is a recovering drug addict. In a year where Slumdog Millionaire is king, rich people with “oh-so-precious-wedding” gets nothing.

  • 11 2-04-2009 at 6:24 pm

    Zan said...

    I agree with those who thought “Rachel” is a very unfeigned and candid look at familial distress and interactions. The execution was precisely the opposite of glib. Everything seemed developed and had a very authentic feel to it. Admirable performances, slick editing, in-the-moment direction from Demme, and an incredible debut screenplay unequivocally make it one of the year’s best.

  • 12 2-04-2009 at 6:42 pm

    Brian Kinsley said...

    Rachel just burned out it’s buzz way too early. Had it come out a little later and not gotten category confused at the Globes, I think it would have done much better.

  • 13 2-04-2009 at 7:19 pm

    King said...

    Guy, don’g get overly critical about the IS – its just supposed to show my enthusiasm for Hathaway and the picture – I am a little biased, I will admitt

    “Level heads” remark was not necessary; after all, its is, like you said, your opinion, and it IS my own opinion as well

    Agree to respect eachother’s remarks?? I hope so

  • 14 2-04-2009 at 7:28 pm

    Adam Smith said...

    Speaking English: Maybe it’s my theatrical background, but I like there to be a bit more focus and intention in writing and execution. Yes, the wedding is a family interaction, and I love seeing simple unforced human moments. But without focus, it grows tedious. Show me some moments at the wedding (for instance, keep the groom’s song), and you’ve made the emotional world real and rich. Show me that for 20 minutes without progressing the action of the piece, not only have you run out of ideas, but now you’re indulging in cinematic mastuic masturbation.

  • 15 2-04-2009 at 8:20 pm

    Josh said...

    Personally, I didn’t have a problem with the wedding scene too much in terms of length, but the Winger-Hathaway confrontation took me right out of the picture. Frankly, the amount of bombast in that scene came out of nowhere; I almost laughed out loud at the strangely vociferous anger coming from Winger, especially. The rest of the script was impressive enough, but that scene was a clunker.