Home / Features / Monomythic, Episode 6: The Best Screenplay goes to… Bullshit!

Monomythic, Episode 6: The Best Screenplay goes to… Bullshit!

Trailer for all the Best Picture Oscar Nominations

After a monthlong hiatus, Monomythic is back! Although I’m going to be trying things differently, speaking with a bit more honesty andshortening the posts, while providing the tools necessary to write screenplays.

What do I mean by honesty? Well, so far everything I’ve taught can be found in a book, blog, or forum. But I’ve definitely been holding back for the sake of censorship and clicks. Something I take pride in about monomythic is that I’m not trying to sell you something. I’m just sharing what has worked: for professionals who did it (Yes, I know quite a few of those), and for those who aspire to make a living through writing – myself included. More than anything else, I get to use this platform to talk about my love of stories – so I’m going to try writing and sharing more authentically, and less robotically.

The Reddit r/Screenwriting page has some great forums and discussions and AMA’s (Ask Me Anything) with people in the industry. I’d check that out at some point. Though if you’re feeling in the need for a refresher first, before immersing yourself into the all-knowledgeable yet ever-toxic world of reddit, I’d recommend reading these books:

Save The Cat

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting

Story

I’ll get back to Sunday lessons again starting next week. Today, I felt the need to address something…

THE OSCARS ARE BULLSHIT

I love the Oscars. There’s this history and prestige behind it, and the red carpet and celebrities make it all seem glamourous.  Yet at the same time, the show has become more about the ceremony to me than the actual awards. I haven’t respected the “Academy” since 2008? When I realized The Dark Knight, arguably the best superhero movie of all-time, didn’t even get a nomination for best picture. A slight which has led to a decade of progressive changes.

But over the years, as I’d kept getting upset over some of the Oscar choices, and as I’d learned more about film overall, I had learned a very important lesson as a screenwriter and film viewer: The Academy has nothing to do with film quality. It’s about politics.

Case-and-point, Martin Scorsese hadn’t scored an Oscar until The Departed, nor did Guillermo Del Toro until The Shape Of Water. Both are great films, yet still below the quality of both acclaimed director’s best works. Then you see movies like Titanic, win the Oscars twice. No, I’m not kidding. Click on that link and you can find another Titanic beyond the James Cameron picture, which won screenplay in 1953. Both Titanics have not aged well over time (much like the real Titanic), though in their defense… there are a lot of forgettable academy pictures.

Atop of that, acclaimed directors like Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, F.W. Murnau, or Christopher Nolan – never won on Oscar in their lifetime (outside honorary achievement awards).  Arguably one of the greatest actors of his generation, it had taken over twenty years of trying for Leonardo DiCaprio to finally win an Oscar. Crazy-eyed, Nicholas Cage won it on his first try. As had Anna Paquin (X-Men, True Blood), at 11 years of age. The long list of Oscar Snubs goes on and some of the names here are astounding.

Ever wonder who actually decides the Oscar Winners every year? Well, it’s mostly a club of middle-aged white men, working in the industry, who need a special ‘invitation’ to be part of the voting elite – a group which also consists of public relations professionals, and studios with self-interests…

BEST SCREENPLAY: AN IMPOSSIBLE STANDARD

Which takes me to the point of this post. If you check, the 2019 Oscar nominated screenplays are already posted online free to download. These include both best original and best adapted screenplays.

Read the first pages of these. You’ll see a trend. Some of these are written in ‘proper format’ but a lot of these… well, they’re not.  If you look, ROMA is written more like a natural screenplay – one that’s visual and commanding, yet also reassured because director Cuaron is essentially writing to himself.

VICE is written in comedic style. Edgy and to the point, yet never-the-less on point with its conviction. Of all the selections, I think this one is the truest to format, reading as a screenplay should.

But First Reformed, is more of an adaptive drama. It’s terribly descriptive, with long expository dialogue and overly detailed action lines – good for a drama, but one that needs to pull the reader in or else it fails quickly as a page turner.

All of these are different. None of them are standard. It’s art, yet, as scripts are a basic blueprint/instruction manual for production teams, it’s also cookie-cutter version of art. It’s impossible to judge best screenplay because these ‘so-called-bests’ aren’t following scriptwriting rules. Which is something you can’t afford to do…

Someone like you: A starter, without a reputation, who needs to get past the first and second round of readers – literally cannot write the way these screenplays are written.

For one, you shouldn’t be calling shot directions. Yet, some of these writers for best screenplay are the very directors, just like with Cuaron. In fact, some of these scripts being judged are the shooting script – meaning that its loaded with camera directions – which you’re told in almost every writing book, never to do. Second, almost all these scripts feature location details and musical choices – specific, yet essential to the world’s being built.

This is great for a script… it’s also really hard to get a project past a reader when you’re that specific. Details like these read as costly dollar signs, and for spec scripts entered into contests and call-to submissions, don’t be surprised if they are turned away.

What most people don’t understand is… you’re rigged to lose best screenplay. You, as you are right now – a newbie. At least until you’re famous, in which case, the rules don’t apply to you, so go ahead and call your type of camera shot. But until then, you’re screwed.

Which is why I stress again, that you shouldn’t care so much about writing the best script. Just focus on writing your script. Which is going to be vastly different, per project, depending on who you’re working with and what you’re trying to do in the industry.

You Can CLICK HERE to Watch The Oscars Live Ceremony Streaming on youtube (Link to close after today).

About Christian Angeles

Christian Angeles likes to watch the moving pictures. He also listens to words on the page and writes in ways that make people feel things. All on a laptop. Sometimes from an app on his phone. You can follow him on Facebook or Instagram. Read his literature reviews on goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/xnangeles. Or read his articles in NewBrunswickToday: http://newbrunswicktoday.com/author/christian-angeles

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