The Writers Guild and the Sound Editors gave out their awards last night and it’s safe to say that, winners aside, no one’s world was too terribly rocked.
Journalist-turned-screenwriter Mark Boal was rewarded for his hard-earned real-world experience as an embedded reporter with a Best Original Screenplay nod for “The Hurt Locker.” In another completely unsurprising award, the well-liked and respected Jason Reitman was similarly rewarded for his critically acclaimed work on the adult-aimed topical comedy, “Up in the Air.” The documentary category wasn’t much of a surprise either, with the muckraking “The Cove” picking up yet another award.
This isn’t quite on the level of a statistical study, but it’s worth noting that, for the last couple of years at least, the WGA awards and the Oscars have been lining up 100% in the writing categories, so Oscar betters should take note. This is a bit of a blow to any fans of Quentin Tarantino“Pulp Fiction” screenplay and the writers tend to be a bit more openminded about offbeat films than Oscar voters as a whole. who might have been hoping for some Oscar wins, as Best Original Screenplay has been “his” category in the sense that his only Oscar win so far has been for his
Still, older and/or less geeky fans of old-school post-war (as in WWII) realism are likely impressed by the real-life underpinnings of Boal’s work and Kathryn Bigelow’s film is just edgy enough, while not marred in the minds of some by being a “fun” war movie, and “Inglourious Basterds” is definitely fun. It’s also controversial to some degree, perhaps not the best combination if all you want out of a movie is award wins.
In the adapted screenplay category, I personally wouldn’t have minded seeing the award go to the brilliant and scabrous “In the Loop,” but that film was less widely seen and it’s humor might be bit too nasty (in a good, cleansing way) and British for some.
[UPDATE: Aren’t you people supposed to correct me when I write complete nonsense? If I had bothered to check a bit more carefully this morning before I wrote this, I would have noted/remembered that “Basterds” was not nominated for a Writers Guild award and therefore might have somewhat better Oscar screenplay chances than I initially thought. The same applies to “In the Loop.” These scripts were not eligible under the WGA’s rather arcane rules which also disqualified such worthy films as “An Education.” If you’re curious about the reasons why, Steve Pond, via Anne Thompson, had a partial explanation back in January. Anyhow, thanks to Anne Thompson, whose post on this showed me the error of my ways, or whatever. We now resume our regularly scheduled blog post.]
Not only the people who write the words, but the people who make sure you can hear them, gave out awards last night. I speak of the Sound Editors. While this might not be something that keeps you up night, as any filmmaker knows, sound plays an enormous role in whether or not a picture works. Just ask any director how he feels before locking in the final mix and you’ll get an earful. On the other hand, it’s a tough gig. During my film school days, I carelessly referred to “shit jobs” in movies before my affably curmudgeonly teacher of both sound and writing. His gruff correction: “There are not shit jobs in movies — except cutting sound.”
Anyhow, the sound editors spread the joy around, geek wise, giving awards to, yes,”Avatar,” but also “Up,” “District 9” (best foreign geek picture), and “Inglourious Basterds” as well as the obviously music heavy “This is It.” Maybe there’ll be a teensy amount of suspense on Oscar night around the so-called technical categories — which are actually pretty important and a big part of the filmmaker’s art — if they bother to televise any.
And a quick note for awards hounds seeking sexier award shows, the BAFTAS (the British Oscar equivalent) are starting right about now, though reality might force me to give them short shrift tomorrow. We shall see.