10. THE QUEEN by Peter Morgan
Like with the passengers of UNITED 93, we'll never know what really happened inside the Royal Palace on the days following the death of Princess Diana, but this sure did feel like the truth. The script analyzes the queen’s action from all sides, and perfectly captures a nation doubting their unquestionable loyalty for a Royal family that takes privileges for granted.

The Western was always a great setting for tales of morality, where it’s impossible to tell good from evil simply by the violence of their actions. (Is a gunslinger conquering the frontier or merely taming it?) THE PROPOSITION uses a very simple hook – an outlaw must kill his psychotic older brother or the sheriff will execute the younger brother – to ponder the hypocrisy of justice in an untamed land.

Carefully detailed study of a man whose ulcer spins out of control. He journeys through the medical system, encountering endless obstacles during one terrible night. I particularly liked that Lazarescu is not an everyman caught in the system. He’s a grouchy drunk who sometimes brings misery upon himself. I’m not sure that approach has ever been done before. I also liked the paramedic who is eager to dismiss Lazarescu, but becomes his champion when the illness really takes hold.

7. HARD CANDY by Brian Nelson
A photographer picks up an underage girl, who turns the tables on him. This film generated a lot of controversy, not just for its premise, but the execution of the premise. Some have questioned the actions of the characters, and the ambiguity of certain plot elements. I think the script pushes all the right buttons. It feels very real, but leaves you with a lot to think about. It’s also an extremely tense verbal stand-off between two opposing forces.

6. AKEELAH AND THE BEE by Doug Atchison
It’s a basic underdog sports formula, but set in the world of Spelling. Like DRUMLINE, AKEELAH spins new fabric from old yarn. The characters feel fresh, and there’s great dynamics within the kids and the adults. (Most formula films don’t write both groups with equal respect and intelligence.) I also loved the film showing how Akeelah’s neighborhood help to train her.

5. THE DESCENT by Neil Marshall
Here’s a script that knows how to keep upping the stakes. It could have worked as a drama of overcoming tragedy, but it adds in a nail-biting, underground survival film. Then come the monsters which quickly raises a tense dynamic within the group. I love the way the horror is a direct metaphor for redemption. To get over tragedy, you must hit bottom and be reborn as something stronger.

4. PAN’S LABYRINTH by Guillermo del Toro
The sister piece to THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE, meshes elements of fantasy, horror, war and politics into a seamless and hearty soup. This script stands as a fine piece of entertainment written with great imagination. Within the fable-like narrative is a much darker look at the corruption of fascism.

3. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE by Michael Arndt
I’ll admit, I do question just how good this script is. It’s so well acted and smoothly directed that I’m certain it elevated what was on the page. While some situations strain the overall tone, the characters, and especially their relationships to each other, provided a real blast of fresh air. Despite how it was marketed, this is not a film about family dysfunction. It’s about insecurity and how we let it keep us from living. The ending perfectly brings the fears of all the characters to a boil just before offering a single solution frees them all.

2. UNITED 93 by Paul Greengrass
With the script for UNITED 93, Greengrass writes a fictional documentary. He structures and stages each event from 9/11 beautifully, taking us through those few hours step by step. The script pulls us in from unexpected angles. (Who’d think to start a 9/11 film with the terrorists?) Without pouring on the syrup, (*cough* Oliver Stone *cough*) the script points up the bravery and heroism of the people on the ground, and most importantly, the passengers on flight UNITED 93.

1. BRICK by Rian Johnson
“If you got every rat in town together and said ‘show your hands' if any of them actually seen the Pin, you'd get a crowd of full pockets.” BRICK is not a film noir rip-off or homage or a re-imagining set in a high school. It IS Noir. Like Ebert said, “noir to its very bones.” The dialogue is the style, and you won’t hear anything finer, smarter or cooler this year. (It’s so thick, a friend found it even more enjoyable to watch with the captions on.)

“Throw one at me if you want, hash head. I've got all five senses and I slept last night. That puts me six up on the lot of you.” As a screenplay, BRICK is this generation’s HEATHERS.


Post a Comment

<< Home