2005: Best Adapted Screenplay

5. SIN CITY by Frank Miller
Frank Miller took everything he loved about film noir and comic books, pushed it to its R-rated limit, and distilled it into four stories, which perfectly captured the world of tough guys, cool dames, shadowy nights, and extreme violence. Loaded with shocking moments (“I took his weapons…both of them.”) and unexpected comedy (“Yeesch!”) There was more fun in the world of SIN CITY then in any galaxy far, far away (where gravitational pull made the dialogue fall out like lead balloons.) “The killing, satisfaction. Everything up until the killing…will be a gas.”

4. MUNICH by Tony Kushner & Eric Roth
Every year we get a handful of revenge thrillers. This year two excellent films detailed how vengeance can destroy a man’s soul. (The other one, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, I will discuss soon.) MUNICH masterfully combined a global political thriller with a meditation on what it means to take a life in the name of justice. The script is very meticulous in its detail as the murders go from clean acts of revenge to very messy personal tragedies. And I loved the time spent with the father and son informants, whose reasoning showed a wisdom that transcended all sides.

3. KISS KISS, BANG BANG by Shane Black
He’ll probably never win an Oscar, but Shane Black is one of the absolute finest writers working in the business right now. His film is both a tribute and a backhanded bitch slap to film noir, Hollywood, and buddy action movies. The hopelessly contrived story might have just disappearing up its own butt, if the experience wasn't so much fun. Full of the year’s sharpest, funniest dialogue, and with plenty of unexpected twists. Plus, there’s a genuine affection for his characters and the three leads all have rich, (dare I say) Oscar caliber parts right there on the page.

2. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
The first step in overcoming BROKEBACK’s “gay cowboy” tag was that the screenplay touches on themes that are universal. Anybody who’s felt a love they could not have will understand what these guys are going through. Where MUNICH is smart and SIN CITY is fun, BROKEBACK’s story pours directly from the human heart. And I’m talking about all the relationships in the movie, not just the two cowboys. Along with that, the dialogue is sparse and hesitant, yet often poetic, with lots of regional flavor.

1. BATMAN BEGINS by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan
Goyer has written a lot of comic book movies, and his punk sensibility and flashy wit often produce trashy fun. Nolan is a British intellectual whose films are very smart. The two complimented each other perfectly to resurrect the Dark Knight, and finally do justice to the character by focusing the story around Batman/Bruce Wayne.

The film weaves together a rogues gallery of villains and allies to create an engrossing story that feels adapted from a dense novel, and everything ties into Bruce Wayne and what drives him to be Batman. The script also explains how the brooding owner of Wayne Manor is seen by the general public as a spoiled, rich playboy.

BATMAN BEGINS also kicks a lot of butt with numerous action sequences that have a logical reason for existing. For example, in the car chase, the destruction is justified because someone’s life is at stake. The bad guys plans are truly, apocalyptically evil, and they are not clowns or freaks, but a real threat to Batman and the people of Gotham. Comic book fiction becomes high-class art with this, the greatest superhero script ever written.


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