Best Writing (Original) – 1969

Official Nominations: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. The Damned. Easy Rider. The Wild Bunch.

William Goldman’s screenplay for BCATSD picked up the official win this year, and it’s difficult to argue against the win. The easy dialogue couple with the charm of the actors ensures that the film is quotable and doesn’t feel dated. BACATAA has a name too long to type repeatedly, but Mazursky peppers his frank script with a lot of modern humour which was a revelation for audiences at the time. Even more shocking, for the handful who saw it, was The Damned with its explicit sex and discussions on power, corruption, and politics. Easy Rider too was a revelation, with Fonda, Hopper, and Southern’s script striking a chord with America’s youth like no movie before or since with much of the dialogue being ad-libbed on the spot.

My Winner: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

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My Nominations: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid. Easy Rider. The Italian Job. Medium Cool. Take The Money And Run. The Wild Bunch.

I add a few notable films to my list – The Italian Job is of course extremely quotable, Medium Cool is a timely piece and relevant today as the quest for morality and integrity within journalism rages on. Take The Money And Run is one of Woody Allen’s earliest hits, more manic than what he would later produce.

My Winner: The Italian Job

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Let us know in the comments which film of 1969 do you think has the Best Original Screenplay.

Best Original Screenplay – 1968

Official Nominations: The Producers. Faces. 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Battle of Algiers. Hot Millions.

Some strong entries this year, with 2001 being packed with some classic movie dialogue which people recognize even if they haven’t seen the movie. I’m not 100% comfortable picking it in this category given that it was still loosely based on an Arthur C Clarke short story. The Producers features one of the all time best first screenplays by a writer, with Mel Brooks peppering the script with belly laughs, subtle laughs, songs, and satire. The three remaining nominations are largely forgotten films – 1966’s The Battle Of Algiers showcasing the reality and horror of war like few others, Faces takes an equally honest and bleak view of marriage, while Hot Millions was one of the first movies to consider the possibility of computers in crime but seems dated and not particularly funny these days.

My Winner: The Producers

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My Nominations: The Producers. Night Of The Living Dead. If… The Night Of The Following Day. Once Upon A Time In The West. Yellow Submarine. Death By Hanging.

Only one movie makes it over to my list, as I try to add a variety of other strong screenplays. Night Of The Living Dead has some of the horror genre’s most famous dialogue, while If… is an unflinching and violent tale free of movie glamour and embellishment. The Night Of The Following Day is a forgotten Brando movie featuring a now cliche twist, Yellow Submarine is completely buck nuts, while my final two nominations highlight the best from the rest of the world. Once Upon A Time In The West ironically became one of the finest Westerns ever with its screenplay looking to borrow as many Western cliches as possible, while Death By Hanging is an absurd and often astonishing look at crime, punishment, and justice with a lot of humorous dialogue managing to tow the line between laughs and serious discussion.

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My Winner: The Producers

Which movie of 1968 do you think deserves the Best Original Screenplay Oscar? Let us know in the comments!

Best Writing (Original) – 1967

Official Nominations: William Rose (Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner), David Newman, Robert Benton (Bonnie And Clyde), Robert Kaufman, Norman Lear (Divorce, America Style), Jorge Semprun (The War Is Over), Frederic Raphael (Two For The Road).

William Rose was the official winner this year, his screenplay for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner showing a lighter comedic touch than his previous offerings. Altogether less subtle and light is Kaufman and Lear’s Divorce American Style which offers strong satire but feels dated now. Jorge Semprum’s nomination seems like an unusual choice – decent script but a film which few will recall now, and Raphael’s work on Two For The Road is a bold choice but deserved giving the ingenuity of the storytelling on offer. My winner though goes to Newman and Benton’s riproaring Bonnie And Clyde, one of the finest examples of twisting the truth to tell a new tale.

My Winner: Bonnie And Clyde.

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My Nominations: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. Bonnie And Clyde. Two For The Road. The Fearless Vampire Killers. The Firemen’s Ball. Le Samourai. The Shooting.

I have added a selection of four movies to my personal nominations, a mixture of satire, farce, crime, and existential drama, with my winning vote going to Polanski and Gerard Brach’s The Fearless Vampire Killers.

My Winner: The Fearless Vampire Killers

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Which movie of 1967 do you think has the Best Original Screenplay? Let us know in the comments!

Best Writing – Original – 1966

Official Nominations: A Man And A Woman. Blow Up. The Fortune Cookie. Khartoum. The Naked Prey.

A rare winner from France this year, with Claude Lelouch and Pierre Uytterhoeven’s A Man And A Woman earning the victory. Although the film is more revered for its visuals and soundtrack, the script still resonates universally today. Antonioni and Guerra’s script for Blow Up (with English translation by Edward Bond) is the near perfect story for Counter-culture audiences with both the story itself and the impact it had highlighting the rapid, necessary changes the world was going through, and the widest generational gap there has arguably ever been. Billy Wilder’s (along with I.A.L Diamond) Fortune Cookie proves that even though the world was changing, there was still room for the upstarts of previous decades while Robert Ardrey’s script for Khartoum is a fine, fairly plain, old school affairwhich doesn’t do much to re-invent the historical epic. The Naked Prey is an excellent underrated film, packed with action and suspense (though with questionable Imperialism) and its script by Clint Johnson and Don Peters has sparse dialogue, instead letting the escape, chase, and violence lead the plot. An unusual, but deserving nomination.

My Winner: Blow Up

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My Nominations: A Man And A Woman. Blow Up. The Naked Prey. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. How To Steal A Million. The Shooting.

Adding to the trio of Official Nominations come Leone’s The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, a film whose most famous lines are still quotable today, Carole Eastman’s existential The Shooting, and Harry Kurnitz and George Bradshaw’s quick witted How To Steal A Million.

My Winner: Blow Up

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What is your choice for the best Original Screenplay of 1966? Let us know in the comments below!

Best Writing (Original): 1965

Official Nominations: Darling. Cassanova 70. The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. The Train. Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines.

This was an interesting year for original writing, with the daring Darling deservedly picking up the win. It deals with a host of taboo subjects in a frank and often shocking manner. In another year The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg may have won thanks to the unique…lyricial style of the screenplay. The other entries are bizarre, but justified in their own weirdness, with Cassanova 70 dealing with sex and death fetish in a typically Italian comedic style, while Magnificent sees a host of British comedians hamming it up and providing a variety of humourous, energetic japes. The Train is a solemn, cynical affair, and while the film is action packed, the whole plot about stealing priceless art echoes the absurdity of war when we see that no-one even cares about the art and it is discarded.

My Winner: Darling.

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My Nominations: Darling. The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. Alphaville. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Help!, Repulsion

Darling and Cherbourg make the transition to my nominaitons, and are aided and abetted by a quartet of newbs which echo the bizarre real world nominations. Polanski, Brach, and Stone’s screenplay for Repulsion is almost the antithesis of Darling with a much colder, stilted approach to relationships and existence as a whole. On the other side of the extreme is Meyer’s exhuberant, ridiculous Faster, Pussycat! which contains more pulpy one-liners than drunken stand-up comedian with a gun to his head. Help! is The Beatles take on Bond, and it is filled with strange asides, improvisation, and timeless nonsense, while Alphaville is Godard’s semi-original take on the character of Lemmy Caution, completely twisting the character and throwing him into a futuristic setting.

My Winner: Repulsion.

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Which film do you think has the best original screenplay of 1965? Let us know in the comments!

Best Writing (Original): 1964

I missed my usual Oscar post yesterday, so adding two today – yippee!

Actual Nominations: Father Goose. A Hard Day’s Night. The Organizer. That Man From Rio. One Potato Two Potato.

From these nominations you would be forgiven for thinking it was a slow year- a dreary romantic comedy as winner? A film based on an album, a spoof of James Bond? The Organizer is a fine Italian film but doesn’t have a remarkable script, while One Potato Two Potato attempts an emotional drama on race relations, but now looks naive. That Man From Rio looks beautiful and gets most of its plus points from attempting a rip-roaring French Bond film. My win though is A Hard Day’s Night as it sparkles with humour, surrealism, and self knowing, and like The Beatles themselves, is brimming with creativity and innovation.

My Winner: A Hard Day’s Night

My Nominations: A Hard Day’s Night. A Fistful Of Dollars. The Fall Of The Roman Empire. Band Of Outsiders. The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg.

Only one film makes it to my list from the officials, and most of my picks this year are foreign productions. Fistful takes many of the cliches of the genre and twists them into a new bunch, while The Fall is noted for much more intelligence than one would usually expect to see in a film of its type. Band and Umbrella feature many innovative techniques with the former relying on an air of cool and the latter on its unexpected sung dialogue.

My Winner: A Hard Day’s Night

Which film of 1964 do you think had the best original writing? Let us know in the comments!

Best Writing (Original): 1963

Official Nominations: How The West Was Won. 8 1/2. America, America. Love With The Proper Stranger. The Four Days Of Naples

While 8 1/2 is the more visionary and original film, I’m always fascinated and awed by epics – every facet of a true epic which spans generational time spans is appealing to me, from a pure entertainment viewing standpoint, to its creation. Without strong writing and characters and epic would be four hours of torture, but when you have engaging writing, memorable quotes, and characters you yearn to see more of, then you’ll have a winner in my books. How The West Was Won is a winner. Elia Kazan’s vanity project America, America is also epic in scope and earned him multiple nominations, including Best Writing, while Arnold Schulman’s Love With The Proper Stranger deals with tough topics but doesn’t hit any peaks. Four Days Of Naples is an interesting enough Italian film, but again doesn’t stir anything in me with regards to writing.

My Winner: How The West Was Won.

 

My Nominations: Dementia 13. Winter Light. Summer Holiday. Shock Corridor. The Running Man. It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. How The West Was Won. 8 1/2.

Sam Fuller was always ahead of his time, and with Shock Corridor he perfects the horror/crime cliché of ‘man goes to asylum to uncover murder case’, both writing and directing skilfully. Dementia 13 shows a young Coppola’s flair, Winter Light is full of Bergman’s venom against religion, Summer Holiday remains popular to this day in Britain, whilst Mad World and The Running Man are good examples of pacing when it comes to writing chase thrillers and adventures.

My Winner: Shock Corridor.

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Let me know your picks for Best Original Writing of 1963 in the comments below!