Best Screenplay 1986

1927/28 through 1997

What were the best original and adapted screenplays of 1986?

Crocodile Dundee (Paul Hogan, Ken Shadie, John Cornell)
0
No votes
Hannah and Her Sisters (Woody Allen)
13
34%
My Beautiful Laundrette (Hanif Kurieshi)
5
13%
Platoon (Oliver Stone)
1
3%
Salvador (Oliver Stone, Rick Boyle)
1
3%
Children of a Lesser God (Hesper Anderson, Mark Medoff)
0
No votes
The Color of Money (Richard Price)
0
No votes
Crimes of the Heart (Beth Henley)
2
5%
A Room With a View (Ruth Prawer Jhabvala)
11
29%
Stand By Me (Raynold Gideon, Bruce A. Evans)
5
13%
 
Total votes: 38

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4225
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:18 pm

Given what ultimately did make the lineup, I consider it an outrage that Blue Velvet missed the Original Screenplay roster, for its dark, blackly funny, and wildly imaginative critique of small-town America. I would also have endorsed Peggy Sue Got Married, which you'd have thought would have been up the writers' alley for at least its concept, and Matador, though obviously Pedro was still in his too-out-there phase for Oscar recognition.

When I was a kid, I saw this Disney movie called Jungle 2 Jungle, where Tim Allen played a New York dad who found out he had a teenage son who had been raised in the jungle. Even as a child, I thought it was pretty stupid. When I saw 'Crocodile' Dundee, I thought it was basically a more adult version of that -- a bunch of city slicker goes to the outback cliches in the first half, followed by jungle man in Manhattan clunkers in the second half. And there was barely a laugh anywhere. It's one thing for the Academy to recognize "bad" nominees like The Green Mile or The Prince of Tides, but this was at a far worse level entirely. An atrocious nominee, and one that seems utterly inexplicable out of context.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4225
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:18 pm

A more controversial opinion: I'm not all that wild about My Beautiful Laundrette. I like the milieu of the movie, and the way that it focuses on a group of characters we don't often see on-screen, both in terms of race and sexuality, as well as the unique cultural/class environment they occupy in the UK. But I just felt like every time there was an interesting scene that seemed like it was going to kick off a plot, the thread just went nowhere, except toward another interesting scene that seemed like it would propel story but didn't. About halfway through, I just accepted that it never really was going to go anywhere, until it ended with a final scene so arbitrary it could have occurred at any point in the story and served the same function. It's not anything I actively dislike, but honestly I found much of it boring.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4225
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:17 pm

Of the Oliver Stone nominees on the ballot, Salvador is certainly the more ragged of the two scripts. Although something resembling a plot starts to form -- Woods needing to get his girlfriend out of the country -- there's a lot going on, and much of it feels overstuffed and undernourished. (There are times I even felt like important scenes were missing, so freewheeling was the movie's depiction of turmoil in El Salvador.) But...there are a lot of good things about the writing too, including a lot of piercing speeches from Woods that give Stone a mouthpiece for his political ideas in a manner that gives the movie great impact without feeling heavy handed. Ultimately, I think it's a worthy movie, though one too unpolished to get my screenplay vote.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4225
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:17 pm

As in the Best Picture category, my vote comes down to the remaining two movies. As a piece of writing, Platoon is a bit schematic -- with the Berenger and Dafoe characters symbolizing two very clear ideologies, which both engage in a war for Charlie Sheen's soul as he gets deeper into Vietnam. But, to Stone's credit, I always felt like his characters were acting like people first, concepts second, and the whole movie has a vibe of spontaneity that makes it feel far less overdetermined than it could have been. Of course, time and time again, I find myself a bit resistant to picking war/action movies in the screenplay categories -- most of them seem more like directing/visual achievements rather than scripted ones. I certainly admire the detail and power in the writing in this one, but given that I've also gone with Stone plenty already, I'll vote elsewhere.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4225
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:16 pm

And now, it's finally time to pick Woody Allen, for a script that's a real marvel of precise screenplay construction, even as so much of it feels amazingly off-the-cuff. I love the way all of the sister's arcs progress on their own paths, sometimes intersecting, sometimes paralleling each other thematically, but always feeling like related short stories in a great interconnected collection of tales. And I admire so much of the insight along the way -- I find myself referencing Mickey's belief that life has to be enjoyed, not understood, a lot in my own life. The movie also has one of the best written scenes in all of Woody Allen's ouevre -- the lunch conversation between the three sisters -- which is funny and poignant in equal measure, and brings so many of the movie's story strands together even as it prepares to send them off on their own again. This is the film in which the doom-and-gloom of Ingmar Bergman's influence mixed with just the right amount of Allen zest to create one of the most thoughtful, mature, and still joyously funny movies of Woody's career. The first time I'll vote for him as a writer in our game, though definitely not the last.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4225
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:46 pm

In the Adapted race, I also would have endorsed Down and Out in Beverly Hills, which doesn't quite stick its landing, but which is quite funny for much of its running time.

Crimes of the Heart won the Pulitzer?! Good heavens. I have no idea if the material here was just directed at such a broad level (and might have been affecting on stage), or if at its core, the writing is just too silly to be taken remotely seriously. Probably a combination of both. Either way, I found the whole movie just relentlessly shrill -- scenes like Sissy Spacek walking around the apartment with the ceiling fan tied around her neck seemed beyond over the top to me, as does much of the screaming and shouting. The first nominee to go.

It's strange how few movies -- before or after Children of a Lesser God -- have tackled depiction of the deaf experience, so in that regard, the movie at least deserves credit for bringing those issues to light. However, as others have said, it's a fairly bland script -- narratively, it proceeds about entirely to a beat how you'd expect. About the most it accomplishes writing-wise is offer its central actors solid enough roles. And, as usual, it's hard to vote for even the most inspired of play adaptations, much less something this rote.

The Color of Money isn't a patch on The Hustler -- it occupies a far more limited range of emotion, lacking both the earlier film's tragic power as well as its brutally cynical sense of humor. But I wouldn't want to denigrate Color of Money either, as it was a quite solid entertainment, with a lot of sharp dialogue and a solidly engaging plot. It doesn't contend for my vote, but I wouldn't want it removed from this list either.

I really like Stand By Me, which captures so well that moment in growing up when you start to realize that life is full of a lot of unhappy occurrences along with all of the fun. It's a really sensitively written coming-of-age story, using the search for the dead body as a compelling (but not overly literal) metaphor for our protagonist's struggle to come to terms with his brother's death. And it's that rare movie that deals with immature young characters in a manner that still feels very thoughtfully adult. It absolutely rates consideration.

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4225
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:45 pm

But Ruth Prawer Jhabvala has contributed a lot to the finest efforts of Merchant-Ivory's output, and there is no better place to recognize her achievements than here. As others have said, the script is a delight, full of a ton of unexpected humor that carries the movie along to the extent that it never feels like an embalmed period piece. Maggie Smith gets a ton of great quips -- as usual -- but I also appreciate the script for providing Daniel Day-Lewis the rare opportunity to just have a ball with such a great comic character. And the movie has really beautifully written scenes of great poignancy as well -- the near-end scene between Denholm Elliott and Helena Bonham Carter is a total heart-in-the-throat moment, as he encourages her to follow her true love. This is the classiest and most literate script on the ballot, and it's my choice.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6528
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby Mister Tee » Sat Nov 29, 2014 4:15 pm

A not horrible but not especially good year. The writers were disappointingly lazy in their choices – sticking largely with the acting-category choices. Down and Out in Beverly Hills would have been a better choice than some of the adapted nominees. Peggy Sue Got Married is a worthy replacement in original – and, hell, even Nothing in Common is preferable to ‘Crocodile’ Dundee.

This was the first year they did the nominations on the TV morning shows, and the announcement of ‘Crocodile’ Dundee made jaws drop across America (as I recall, it was immediately preceded by Lynch’s directing nomination, so contrast was vivid). It’s not as if the writers had never given us a bummer before; they’d cited Beverly Hills Cop two years earlier. But ‘Crocodile’ Dundee was just such an unnecessarily stupid choice, and seemed to be there strictly in tribute to the film’s surprising box-office. It’s easily the worst script of the ten.

Oliver Stone was of course already an Oscar winner, but until Platoon opened he wasn’t anything like a household name. Platoon was an instant Oscar frontrunner, such a clear major success that it even ignited interest in Stone’s Salvador, which had opened earlier in the year to indifferent commercial reaction. Salvador’s nominations for writing and acting were major surprises, and seemed very much coattail-aided. In some ways, though, I prefer Salvador as a piece of writing; even though it has its simplistic aspects, I find a good deal more energy in its dialogue than I do in the later film’s. Platoon is a grander achievement, but I see it as a director’s triumph over middling material. It’s inconsequential as far as this category goes: I’m not voting for either film. But a few cheers to the writers for tracking down and highlighting the smaller effort

My Beautiful Laundrette was one of my primary exhibits in formulating the concept of critics’ syndrome: that critics, coming in cold on an unheralded movie, will offer wild praise, which will then make it difficult for audiences not to suffer some level of disappointment. Reviews for Laundrette had been rhapsodic, and I didn’t think the film in the end measured up to them (Vincent Canby, in his year-end review, noted that numerous people had said the same to him). However: because so many years have passed, I opted to rent the film this past week…and found I liked it far more than I had originally (something that doesn’t happen often). It still seems a bit raggedly structured to me – too many plot-lines dangle – but there are a good many very well-written scenes, and the film has a pleasingly ambitious scope. I consider giving it my vote.

But in the end I go with (much of) the crowd and choose Hannah and Her Sisters – this despite the fact I have reservations about some of the film’s dialogue, notably that emanating from Max von Sydow and Michael Caine. But there’s so much about the film that’s so good. I can vote for it even with these flaws. The richness of the conception, the broad scope, the vividly drawn characters – this is one of Woody Allen’s strongest efforts, and it gets my vote in the end.

My Crimes of the Heart story: The play floated into NY with a Pulitzer already in its pocket, and I was looking forward to it -- till a friend/co-worker, major theatre maven, came in and told me it was the WORST thing he’d seen in years. He described it as “Tennessee Williams wrote an episode of Laverne and Shirley”. (He went so far as to say that, he’d chosen to take his job, despite it fulfilling none of his dreams, solely because it provided money enough for regular theatre-going, and this play made him question that entire life-decision) Given that I was cash-poor (or just poor-poor) at the time, I opted to skip a play that might make me resent the expenditure. Thus, five years later, the movie was my first exposure to the material. And, expectations suitably scaled down, I didn’t think it was a complete horror – but neither did I think it anything special. No vote.

The same was true of Children of a Lesser God, a play I DID see onstage, and deeply resented for its taking Tonys away from Talley’s Folly and its star Judd Hirsch (Hirsch returned to win two Tonys later, but Lanford Wilson – a far better playwright than Mark Medoff -- never got his due). Children is a very shallow play – the subject of deafness being the only thing distinguishing it from a banal love story. There’s some enjoyably glib dialogue, delivered to perfection by William Hurt in his most audience-friendly role, but the film, like the play, is so minor it’s hard to believe it got the nominations it did.

The Color of Money offered a good deal of solid dialogue – a decent bet, with Richard Price aboard – but it suffered unavoidably from comparison to its great predecessor. Where The Hustler had reached for the moon, Color of Money – like many of even the better 80s films – was content to be “solid”. The movie is notable for finally bringing Paul Newman an Oscar, and not much else.

Stand by Me was a complete sleeper – emerging by surprise in late summer, and turning into a critical/word-of-mouth hit. It’s certainly one of the best Stephen King adaptations (not a fierce competition, that), a touching vignette that probably reminded a lot of guys of their own childhoods (women, maybe not so much). I actually expected the film to do better with the Oscars – I thought a best picture nod wasn’t out of the question (and it would definitely have been preferable to The Mission or Children). But I was glad it at least got this recognition.

My vote, though, has to go to A Room with a View. By that point I’d seen any number of Merchant/Ivory films, and the last thing I’d have expected from another was a sense of humor. But, somehow, the team came up with its most enjoyable, funniest, and best-to-date film with this Forster adaptation. Thanks in part to the moribund film landscape of the mid-80s – and of course the film’s likable qualities -- A Room with a View became a surprise box office hit (a friend of mine was connected to its distribution, and they were astonished at how far it outperformed their expectations). Oscar nominations were a slam-dunk, given that success, and Ruth Prawer Jhabvala easily won her first, well-deserved Oscar.

User avatar
Eric
Tenured
Posts: 2722
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 11:18 pm
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby Eric » Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:12 am

I can think of worse crimes.

ITALIANO
Emeritus
Posts: 3997
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:58 pm
Location: MILAN
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Nov 24, 2014 4:48 pm

Precious Doll wrote:On a final note there is also no need for you to make comments of that nature, which you frequently do to numerous people on the board.



Knowing myself, Precious Doll, I'm not sure that I will follow your advice... And anyway I didnt say that liking Crimes of the Heart (I mean - Crimes of the Heart!) is a sin of death-penalty caliber. Just prison - one or two months.

User avatar
Precious Doll
Emeritus
Posts: 3543
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2003 2:20 am
Location: Sydney
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby Precious Doll » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:16 pm

ITALIANO wrote:Whoever voted here for Crimes of the Heart should be put in some American prison - immediately.


I voted for CofH, and as I am not American and have no plans to ever go to the US again, or for that matter ever leave my country of residence again for a holiday, or ever committed any any crime that breaks US or international as it is that is highly unlikely.

Unless prison terms are introduced for bad taste (by your criteria of course) in cinema, which I clearly seem to have, then yes I would be guilty and one of the first committed for bad taste and fittingly ALL the films I have ever likely should be seized and destroyed.

On a final note there is also no need for you to make comments of that nature, which you frequently do to numerous people on the board.
"I have no interest in all of that. I find that all tabloid stupidity" Woody Allen, The Guardian, 2014, in response to his adopted daughter's allegations.

ITALIANO
Emeritus
Posts: 3997
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:58 pm
Location: MILAN
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby ITALIANO » Mon Nov 24, 2014 2:47 pm

I can't vote for Original because I have seen only a few scenes of Crocodile Dundee on tv years ago - and while I know that I could easily find it online... how shall I put it? I love this board but there are sacrifices that I just couldnt do. I know that I'd never vote for it, but I still have to abstain. Which is good actually, because I'd find it difficult to choose between Hannah and Her Sisters - a very good Allen script, but then how many times should I vote for him? - and My Beautiful Laundrette - which was, for those times, a truly "new", refreshing look at urban life and its offbeat young types. Here Hannah and Her Sisters will probably win, and, I guess, deservedly so - but My Beautiful Laundrette, which belongs to a completely different writing style, is an intelligent, urgent portrayal of (a certain kind of) life in the 80s, and a still valid document of it. (Of the two Stone movies, Platoon is clearly better-writtem than Salvador and it unnecessary "funny" moments, but its floridness and its symbolism have dated badly).

Whoever voted here for Crimes of the Heart should be put in some American prison - immediately. I mean, American theatre once gave us A Streetcar Named Desire and Death of a Salesman - works which are, for different reasons, immortal - and now expects us to take seriously things like Crimes of the Heart and - the slightly better, but only slightly - Children of A Lesser God! Stand by Me is at least emotionally honest. I know that most here won't agree with me, but I actually kind of liked the script of Color of Money - it's not The Hustler, of course, but it deals with the same world and its sometimes desperate, cynical characters in a correct and not superficial way. I voted for Room with a View though - it isn't a "profound" movie, but is a pleasant, fast-moving, witty version of a (minor) classic of literature, which is this context is more than enough.

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7431
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Re: Best Screenplay 1986

Postby Sabin » Mon Nov 24, 2014 11:17 am

Well, looks like I'll be sitting this one out for quite some time. I haven't seen 'Crocodile Dundee, My Beautiful Laundrette, or Salvador so I can't vote for Hannah and Her Sisters, one of my favorite films ever and an incredibly formative experience. As I've grown, it seems a bit more larkish and the finale a bit more strained but it's such a spirited achievement across the board. It would easily get my vote.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15783
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Best Screenplay 1986

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Nov 24, 2014 3:46 am

I'll start off by saying there were two films I absolutely hated nominated for screenplay awards this year, one in each category.

Maybe I just don't understand the culture, but I found Crocodile Dundee to be just plain stupid and Crimes of the Heart a silly waste of talent. Sissy Spacek does come off better than Diane Keaton and Jessica Lange and Tess Harper has her moments, but I was expecting a lot more from that casting.

My substitution for Crocodile Dundee in Original would of course be David Lynch's Blue Velvet, but Neil Jordan and David Leland's Mona Lisa, or if you want comedy, Jerry Leightling and Arlene Sarner's Peggy Sue Got Married would have been better choices as well. Even Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School was a better fish-out-of-water comedic screenplay than Dundee.

The other four were extremely well-written screenplays, any one of which would have been a good choice, but it's hard not to vote for the Oscar winner here. Woody Allen's screenplay for Hannah and Her Sisters was not only one of his best, it was his best in my estimation going beyond the easy jokes of his earlier work, even Annie Hall and handling the dramatic scenes better than he did in Manhattan which I liked for its cinematography and Gershwin score a lot than its story.

My choice for a replacement in Adapted would be Charles Edward Pogue and David Cronenberg's adaptation of The Fly, or again if you want comedy, Paul Mazursky and Leon Capetanos' Down and Out in Beverly Hills, which is an adaptation of Boudou Saved from Drowning or Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers' Ruthless People, which was an adaptation of O. Henry's Ransom of Red Chief . Come to think of it, they could have nominated all three and omitted the pedestrian screenplay of The Color of Money and the rather stagey adaptation of Children of a Lesser God.

The superb screenplay for Stand By Me might have been my pick in another year, but this was the of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's superb adaptation of E.M. Forster's A Room With a View, certainly one of the best adaptations of the decade if not of all time. It was certainly one of my favorite winners in this categorry ever.
“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” - Voltaire


Return to “The Damien Bona Memorial Oscar History Thread”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest