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News round-up: Oscar Edition

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Sunday, Feb 24, 2008

It’s almost upon us, Hollywood’s night of nights. I live in a different time zone, so the awards begin as I finish my work day. In true Aussie style, though, I’ve taken half my shift off so I can get home in time to get showered, buy the traditional Oscar-night takeaway of fish and chips, and head to mum’s, ballots in hand. I even have some UDL vodka and green apple cans left over from my birthday celebrations to enjoy as my favourites all get the gold.


Before all that, though, let’s have a look at the Oscar-related headlines currently floating around Book World. Seems you can’t turn a newspaper page this week without spotting Oscar predictions, Oscar fashion flashbacks, snub lists, comments, reviews, facts and trivia sheets. So, a round-up of the best Oscar stories proved difficult. There’s a lot of good stuff out there. I especially liked EW‘s snub list—finally some Oscar recognition for Molly Ringwald. It’s not all that surprising, considering the recent writer’s strike and the number of great books turned into films this year, that there are many great news stories about that focus on this year’s nominated authors and screenwriters. Here are just a few of the more interesting bits from the week.


Why the fat kid doesn’t always stay in the picture
Ireland’s Independent.ie has a great piece by Alison Walsh on “alchemy which transforms a novel into a screenplay”. Walsh spotlights two very different screenwriters, Deborah Moggach (Pride and Prejudice) and Peter Sheridan (Borstal Boy) and gets the lowdown on just how each approaches novel to screenplay adaptation. What they come up with surprising and even prophetic. Moggach says: “If you think of a novel as being a noun, because it is a very interior world and nothing can happen at all, in the screenplay you are into the world of the verb, which is full of conflict and drama.” Walsh takes these comments, as well as other from legendary screenwriter WIlliam Goldman, in an attempt to solidify the distinctions between novels and screenplays in terms of each works or does not and why.


Adapting ‘Atonement’ puts Hampton back in Oscar race
Hollywood Reporter‘s Martin A. Grove talks in depth and great detail to Christopher Hampton about writing the Atonement script. Hampton discussed his original plans for the script and how they evolved and changed and eventually became something altogether different. He comments on his inspirations, how he came to get the job in the first place, and his views on the film’s cast and crew. If you were like me and disliked the film’s handing of the final revelations, this piece might help you to come around. Was I the only one who felt so utterly removed from the story come the end? I still wish they’d found a better way of tying up the story’s ends, but reading this interview, the enormity of Hampton’s task becomes a bit clearer. Perhaps it was the only way.


And the Oscar goes to…
This is a fun piece from AfterEllen that features the site’s favourite movie and TV people making their Oscar predictions. Marlee Matlin praises Marion Cotillard and ponders just much No Country for Old Men might have been improved had Anton Chigurh been a lesbian. Jill Bennett from Dante’s Cove talks about her emotional reaction to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, while director J.D. Disalvatore puts her money of Ellen Page winning Best Actress: “She is so lesbionic.”


Oscars: Mining wealth from the pages of a book
David Ulin, books editor at the Los Angeles Times has a great essay this week that I found in the Salt Lake Tribune. Ulin talks about how Hollywood has long neglected to praise the authors of those books that become great cinematic works (Forrest Gump, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), and examines the costs of such snubbing.  But are things changing?


Nominated writers owe debt to books: Adapters identify with source material
Finally, Variety has a wonderful piece on screenplay adaptation that includes comments ion writing from Diving Bell and the Butterfly screenwriter Ronald Harwood, Away from her screenwriter Sarah Polley, into the Wild screenwriter Sean Penn, Zodiac screenwriter James Vanderbilt, and Hampton. Harwood’s task in turning Jean-Dominique Bauby’s memoir into a film that wound adequately allow the audience to understand Bauby’s sitaution—following a massive stroke, the writer and editor could communicate only by blinking one eye. Harwood says: “The answer I came up with was seeing it from his point of view. So I made it entirely subjective. The camera was him.” Polley’s comments are my favourite—she’s also my pick to win. Away from Her is just a magnificent film, so beautifully lifted from the page. Polley relates her experience: “It was the first time I had thought about what it meant to endure life with someone. It wasn’t about this initial chemical maniacal feeling you have when you first fall in love, but the idea of going through life with someone and the richness of that and the complications of that.”


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