Oscars 2014: If We Picked The Winners (Best Adapted Screenplay)
5. Steve Coogan And Jeff Pope - Philomena
Philomena is a mixed bag of a screenplay. On the one hand, there are elements of Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope's script that are done very well and warrant a higher ranking among the nominees than last place. The film excellently balances the viewpoints between Martin Sixsmith, a modern cynical atheist who looks down on those that don't subscribe to the same enlightened ideas as himself, and Philomena, a sweet, simple Catholic traditionalist who very concretely feels the presence of God and the church in her life. Sixsmith's righteous indignation over the wrongs committed against Philomena by the Catholic Church ultimately lead Philomena to discover the truth about her lost son, alleviating her of the years of silent suffering over not knowing what happened to him. At the same time, the cynical bitterness necessary to rouse Sixsmith's anger makes him a miserable and slightly uncaring person who is hard to be around. In contrast, Philomena's naïve understanding of the world and the nature of humanity made her a prime target for the abuse and lies she suffered at the hands of the church, but these same aspects of her personality also make her a genuinely caring person, and even with all the hardships of her life, Philomena is undoubtedly the happier individual of the two characters. Particularly in the film's final scenes, after the big revelation occurs and we see the characters' polar opposite reactions to the uncovering of the truth, the unique and differing nature of the two characters' disposition is made abundantly clear, but in a manner that is genuinely empathetic towards both protagonists. Despite these strengths though, the film's clichéd use of the prototypical "old batty woman" for comedic moments is, at times, like nails against a chalkboard. Not that these moments are never humorous or well written, but the movie goes back to this well over and over again, to the point where the comic relief becomes a very obvious crutch with which the screenplay relies on, heavily. It also gives the film the feeling of being aggressively middle-brow (as paradoxically as that may sound) and subverts the more intelligent aforementioned aspects of the screenplay in the rather crude interest of being an "audience pleaser". The final result then is, as previously stated, a mixed bag. There are a lot of aspects of the script to be admired, enough so that I don't begrudge the film of its nomination in this category, and a lot of aspects that deserve criticism. In the perspective of Oscar history though, Philomena is far from the worst nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay.
A film fanatic at a very young age, starting with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies and gradually moving up to more sophisticated fare, at around the age of ten he became inexplicably obsessed with all things Oscar. With the incredibly trivial power of being able to chronologically name every Best Picture winner from memory, his lifelong goal is to see every Oscar nominated film, in every major category, in the history of the Academy Awards.