Cheers for the twenty-third entry in our Six Spot series.
Our latest request takes us back to the 2001 Adapted Screenplay category. On the surface, this particular year and category doesn’t have any surprises. Best Picture winner “A Beautiful Mind” took home the prize for writer Akiva Goldsman while three of the five nominees were from film nominated in the Best Picture category. Reflecting on the category as a whole, there are a few unexpected and novel choices the Academy made. Without further ado, let’s look at the 2001 Adapted Screenplay nominees before discussing the snubs.
THE NOMINEES WERE:
- “A Beautiful Mind” – Written by Akiva Goldsman – WINNER
- “Ghost World” – Written by Daniel Clowes & Terry Zwigoff
- “In The Bedroom” – Screenplay by Rob Festinger and Todd Field
- “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” – Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
- “Shrek” – Written by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Joe Stillman and Roger S.H. Schulman
Adapted Screenplay was one of four Oscars “A Beautiful Mind” won, including Picture, Director and Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly). In a way, this was a low haul for the predicted frontrunner, which many had thought would also win Best Actor in a Leading Role (Russell Crowe). The biggest competition came from the other Best Picture nominees in the lineup. The screenplay categories often give their award to Best Picture nominees that won’t win in other categories. This was the best shot for “In the Bedroom” to win an award. Unfortunately, the film went home empty handed. Meanwhile, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” took home four technical awards. If there was any above the line category it might have won, it was Supporting Actor for Ian McKellen.
One of the biggest screenplay players was “Memento,” by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. The brothers’ first screenplay was a runaway success, but there was uncertainty whether it would be regarded for Adapted or Original Screenplay, as the film was based on a short story by Jonathan Nolan. Since the short story had not been published prior to the film’s release, it was allowed into the Original Screenplay category, where it earned a nomination. This helped “Ghost World,” which was the other indie screenplay contender that commanded plenty of passion. Both “Ghost World” and “Memento” dominated the critics prizes and were able to each earn screenplay nominations, albeit in different categories. Fifth place may have been “Shrek,” which was only the second animated film to earn a writing nomination. Still, the film pulled off a surprise win in this category at the BAFTAs, proving there was strong support for the script.
THE SIX SPOT CONTENDERS ARE:
- “Black Hawk Down” – Screenplay by Ken Nolan
- Precursors – WGA Awards
- Oscar Nominations – Best Director, Cinematography, Film Editing (WINNER), Sound (WINNER)
- “Bridget Jones’s Diary” – Screenplay by Richard Curtis, Andrew Davies, and Helen Fielding
- Precursors – BAFTA Awards, WGA Awards, USC Scripter Awards
- Oscar Nominations – Best Actress (Renee Zellweger)
- “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” – Screenplay by John Cameron Mitchell
- Precursors – Sundance Audience Award (WINNER), Sundance Grand Jury Nominee, Independent Spirit Awards (First Screenplay)
- Oscar Nominations – None
- “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” – Screenplay by Steve Kloves
- Precursors – PGA Awards (Picture)
- Oscar Nominations – Best Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Score
- “Iris” – Screenplay by Richard Eyre and Charles Wood
- Precursors – BAFTA Awards
- Oscar Nominations – Best Actress (Judi Dench), Supporting Actor (Jim Broadbent) (WINNER), Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)
- “The Shipping News” – Screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs
- Precursors – USC Scripter Awards,
- Oscar Nominations – None
- “Vanilla Sky” – Screenplay by Cameron Crowe
- Precursors – None
- Oscar Nominations – Best Original Song
EARLY OSCAR PROSPECTS
Some movies were always going to be ahead of Oscar’s time. “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” a gloriously queer rock musical comedy, fits this bill more than most movies. The film received early acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award and Directing Award on top of a Grand Jury nomination. By the time the end of 2001 rolled around, the film had been left out of the Oscar conversation. It earned many first filmmaker awards for John Cameron Mitchell, as well as a Golden Globe Musical/Comedy Actor nomination. Still, if the Oscars were going to throw the musical a bone, it would’ve been in the music or costume categories.
On the other hand, “The Shipping News” appears to have all the trappings of an Oscar movie. The drama was based off Annie Prouix’s novel of the same name and was widely anticipated as an Oscar frontrunner. Upon its release, it flopped and received middling reviews. Supporting Actresses Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench tried to keep the Oscar hopes alive. In the end, it’s script only had a USC Scripter Award to its name.
ONE HUNDRED MILLION PLUS MOVIES
Between “The Lord of the Rings” and “Shrek,” the Academy proves that they’re not averse to popcorn entertainment. There were plenty of November/December hits that were also waiting in the wings for a screenplay nomination. At the time “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was regarded with similar Oscar prospects as the two blockbusters that earned nominations in Adapted Screenplay. The film was a PGA nominee for Best Picture and made it into the BAFTA Best British Film category. If the Oscars had more fondness for the series, they may have given it a screenplay nomination. However, the Oscars have never given a film from the “Harry Potter” universe an above the line nomination.
The commercial success of “Jerry Maguire” and critical acclaim of “Almost Famous” gave writer-director Cameron Crowe a blank check for his next project. His 2001 film, “Vanilla Sky,” had the hottest cast, including Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz, and a prime December release date. Crowe had won the Original Screenplay category the year before for “Almost Famous.” Unfortunately, viewers didn’t know what to make of the movie. Though it inched past the $100 million mark, it ultimately only received an Original Song nomination at the Oscars.
The late-breaking blockbuster that performed best at the Oscars was “Black Hawk Down” from Ridley Scott. War movies aren’t always thought of as writing contenders, yet “Black Hawk Down” reaped a WGA nomination for Adapted Screenplay, which usually has strong crossover with the Academy. The war film squeaked into four theaters on December 28th, 2001 before expanding wide on January 18th, 2002 to make $108 million. However, it’s success comes a little too late for total awards domination. Still, it won two of its four nominations at the Oscars.
THE JIM BROADBENT EFFECT
No one expected Jim Broadbent to be the belle of the ball at the 2001 Oscars. The British character actor had turned in three beloved performances in movies that all caught Oscar’s attention. This led to his surprise Supporting Actor win for “Iris,” beating frontrunners Ian McKellen and Ben Kingsley (“Sexy Beast”). The Iris Murdoch biography excelled when it came to acting nominations. Broadbent’s co-stars Judi Dench and Kate Winslet both earned nominations in lead and supporting, respectively. While precursors were also kind to all three performances, it had trouble showing up in other categories. The BAFTA Awards also gave “Iris” nominations for Best British Film and Best Adapted Screenplay. Yet, it seems good will as the film wouldn’t extend that far at the Oscars.
Instead, Broadbent’s accomplishment seems like a win for his work in “Moulin Rouge!” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” as well. “Moulin Rouge!” made it into the Best Picture lineup, even after missing Directing and Original Screenplay nominations. Meanwhile, “Bridget Jones’s Diary” was a romantic comedy hit from May that pulled off a nomination in Lead Actress for Renee Zellweger. Nominations for romantic comedies are hard to come by. Yet, the character of Bridget Jones was widely beloved from Helen Fielding’s books. The narrative of Zellweger’s accent and weight gain appealed to voters who love performance transformations. Additionally, the script (which was co-written by Fielding) also received awards traction. It was nominated at the WGA, BAFTA and USC Scripter Awards. That makes it the most nominated of any of the snubbed scripts.