Could there be another ‘Network’ dagger lurking?

Posted by · 1:33 pm · February 3rd, 2011

I’m really not trying to drop another grenade on the season here, but I was wondering recently about surprises this year and whether there are more in store.  And one undeniable shock would be an upset in the Best Adapted Screenplay race.

Some would point to “True Grit” or “Winter’s Bone” as the likely runner-ups to Aaron Sorkin’s all-but-assured win, but if members are voting with their heart in the Best Picture field, why not in the screenplay races, too?  In “Toy Story 3,” I think you’ve got the makings of a real spoiler.  It’s a wonderful close to a beloved series and, look at that, it has “story” right there in the title, waiting to be capitalized upon in advertising.  (That one’s free, Disney flacks.)

In all likelihood, the Academy will feel comfortable sticking with the Best Animated Feature (and potentially Best Original Song) fields as a way to recognize this film and franchise, but if they wanted to spring for more, this would be the place.  And Michael Arndt, an Oscar already in tow, isn’t some unknown newbie making his way through the season.  When it comes to screenplays, the Academy at large simply thinks about dialogue before all else.  That’s the extent of sweeping understanding of the form.  And Sorkin has that in spades, so the smart money, no question, is on “The Social Network.” I’m just saying the smart money was also on David Fincher once upon a time.

Pixar has consistently been heralded for its story process.  In 2008, many thought “WALL-E” could actually eke out a win in the Best Original Screenplay race, but it was ultimately leap-frogged by Best Picture nominee “Milk.” There is still some bias there, so maybe an animated film winning a screenplay prize is a long way off.  But then again, maybe not.

Anyway, Variety’s Debra Kamin recently spoke to Arndt and director Lee Unkrich about the film.  Here’s a taste:

As for his frosh scribe…[Unkrich] was confident. “Everyone was on board with having Michael write this movie even though it was this treasured property,” he said. “We trusted him.”

Arndt was a quick study. “The ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ process was me sitting in my backyard building a little homemade rocket. And going to Pixar and writing ‘Toy Story 3’ was like going to work at NASA,” he said. “It’s sort of the same thing but not really.”

More at Variety.

UPDATED: Speak of the devil.  Disney sent out a press mailer today with a big poster featuring all 12 of the “Not since…” ads that have dotted the campaign landscape this season.  On the other side is the already-becoming-iconic Buzz Lightyear standing against a black background with the film’s five Oscar nominations listed at the bottom.  Best Picture and Best Animated Feature are accentuated, but I might have dropped animated down a tier and put Best Adapted Screenplay at the top, too.

I asked for a jpeg of the poster rather than taking a crappy photo.  Here it is (click for larger versions):

[Photo: Walt Disney Pictures]

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62 responses so far

  • 1 2-03-2011 at 7:37 pm

    DylanS said...

    Even early in this race, after Toronto when I thought TKS was a total BP front-runner, I knew that Sorkin was going to win, no matter what. Although things can change, I doubt that this has. This isn’t some case of “Up in the Air”, this has always been sighted as a landmark achievement of writing, and will be properly rewarded as such. If the film had to compete with TKS in its original screenplay category, which frankly, it should be, I could see this award possibly slipping. But without having TKS juggernaut to compete with, it’s all Sorkin

  • 2 2-03-2011 at 8:39 pm

    Baxter said...

    The only award Sorkin’s script has lost so far, I’m fairly certain, is the NYFCC. Literally every other Adapted Screenplay/Screenplay award that has been announced it has won. At this point, it would be like Diablo Cody losing for Juno. Not gonna happen.

    Toy Story 3 would definitely be the spoiler, if there was one. True Grit’s screenplay, well quite fine, is not what makes people love the movie, and Winter’s Bone’s screenplay nod is the typical reward for well-received indie films that (at least when there only 5 nominees) wasn’t getting a BP nod (e.g. Frozen River, Away From Her, The Savages, Little Children).

  • 3 2-03-2011 at 9:54 pm

    Afrika said...

    Lol @ the fried kitchen theft scene. Was lee daniels high when he decided to film that?

  • 4 2-04-2011 at 3:40 am

    julian said...

    If the atrocity that was Precious could win last year (in, admittedly, a weaker field of competition) the anything can happen: TSN may be too whip-smart for its own good? Still, I’m pretty convinced that Academy members will think of this category as a consolation prize for TSN. That alone should be enough to secure its win here.

  • 5 2-04-2011 at 3:51 am

    LostBoy68 said...

    LOL, “On the Waterfront”…

  • 6 2-04-2011 at 4:20 am

    RichardA said...

    Well, my bet is on True Grit to beat TSN for the adapted screenplay. But this will happen on the GOODWILL of academy for True Grit and not as an “anti-TSN” vote. True Grit got 10 nomination and a supporting actress nomination for a category that it obviously doesn’t belong to. That’s what I call good will to shower True Grit with wins. If it’s an “anti-TSN” vote, there’s enough of a split between TS3 and True Grit for TSN to win in the end.

    TS3’s poster ending with The Return of the King reminds voters that it’s their last chance to honor TS3 beyond it’s deserved best animation wins. Clever.

  • 7 2-04-2011 at 4:43 am

    JJ1 said...

    I could see a TSN upset. But the more I think about it, True Grit will get votes, TS3 wll get votes, but will they both get enough to overcome the amount of people who will vote for TSN?

  • 8 2-04-2011 at 6:06 am

    Maxim said...

    I can challenge all three of the statements on that Poster –

    The Best Reviewed Film of the Year – More like the most broadly liked one. Toy Story 3 is nowhere near the top spot on critics list and IMDB users rated Inception higher.

    The Highest Grossing Release of the Year – If we are talking pure gross then perhaps. But even ignoring the benefits of being a children’s film and a 3D bump – it NOT the most attended film of the year worldwide.

    The most successful Animated Film in History – Now this BLATANTLY not true. Many animated films were more successful and more attended. Adjusting for Inflation Lion King brought more financial success to its makers by leaps and bounds. Ignoring inflation – well there’s Shrek 2 which beat Toy Story 3 with cheaper and non-3d bumped tickets.

  • 9 2-04-2011 at 7:11 am

    Maxim said...

    “I think if the Academy were to vote according to sentiment wouldn’t Inception win for Original Screenplay? Nolan was snubbed but a win for his screenplay would be nice.”

    I never understood this logic. Let me make it clear that I am not in the anti-Nolan camp but I just don’t understand why the same people who didn’t nominate him in directing would care enough to make up for it to overwhelmeningly vote him for the win in best original screenplay in the same year and for the same thing.

    Were does the “sentiment” part of “votingaccording to sentiment” come from?

  • 10 2-04-2011 at 8:53 am

    Sam C. said...

    Kris – I think you’re right. If another dagger is lurking, it’s here…and Sorkin doesn’t have this baby locked up. They’ve snubbed him thrice already just for a nomination, but then again this category has favored first-time nominees recently.

    If TSN loses this race, it’ll be to Toy Story 3 I think. They might look at that race and go, “Geez, that made me cry, and that one script had zingers.”

    I don’t think True Grit is much of a threat…least we live to see the glorious day where The Coens are 5-times champs.

  • 11 2-04-2011 at 9:20 am

    Maxim said...

    “least we live to see the glorious day where The Coens are 5-times champs”

    The fifth win should come for editing.

  • 12 2-04-2011 at 12:35 pm

    Collin said...

    Kris–happens to the best of us :)

    I would kind of love to see a TS3 win. But if Wall-E couldn’t do it, I doubt this one can.