A solid year for screenplays, for sure, including what I think is one of the best screenplays of the last decade (which was inexplicably not nominated for an Oscar).
(SoN = Streaming on Netflix // SoA = Streaming on Amazon // SoH = Streaming on HBO)
Best Original Screenplay of 2015
#5 - Dan Fogelman - Danny Collins
A hidden gem that isn't without clichés, but is full of witty wordplay spouted by amusing and well-rounded characters. (SoA)
#4 - Josh Mond - James White
It takes a little bit to get going, but Josh Mond has crafted such a detailed, complex relationship between a son and his cancer-ravaged mother that it proves to be one of the best dramas of the year. (SoN)
#3 - Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi - What We Do in the Shadows
Mixing horror, comedy, and documentary clichés into a hilarious mash-up about a clan of vampires, the New Zealand duo of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi made this sleeper flick (that you've likely never heard of before) one of my favorites of the year.
#2 - Alex Garland - Ex Machina
Sure, it's a little talky, but what it has to say about society is pretty darn intense. A second watch recently further increased my appreciation for Alex Garland's work. (SoA)
#1 - Amy Schumer - Trainwreck
I've never seen Amy Schumer's tv show, but her debut screenplay is both charming and disarming at the same time, creating a film that feels both modern in terms of its raunchy humor and classic when it comes to romantic comedy tropes. (SoH)
Best Adapted Screenplay of 2015
Cary Joji Fukunaga - Beasts of No Nation (SoN)
Jesse Andrews - Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (SoH)
#5 - Drew Goddard - The Martian
Surprisingly funny, Drew Goddard's flick does a great job of being intelligent in its sci-fi aspects without ever feeling haughty or boring. Much more clever than I expected. (SoH)
#4 - Ryan Cooglar and Aaron Covington - Creed
Creating new layers for a well-known iconic character is not an easy task, but Ryan Cooglar and Aaron Covingron do just that with this latest chapter in the Rocky Balboa saga. But it's not just a Rocky film either, introducing a new character that holds his own in the presence of cinematic royalty.
#3 - Nick Hornby - Brooklyn
While this film could land here for its hilarious women's boarding house dinner scenes alone, Nick Hornby has created a compelling love story with three members of a love triangle all feeling incredibly well-developed. (SoH)#2 - Emma Donogue - Room
Adapting her own book, Ms. Donogue nails the tricky and tenuous emotional roller coaster of her two main characters. Without ever feeling strained or cloying, the script is a riveting one packed with heart, compassion, and gutsiness. (SoA)
#1 - Aaron Sorkin - Steve Jobs
Even after a second viewing, my thoughts feel completely the same as they did after my original review, so I'll simply post my previous comments below:
Rarely do I write a review where I find myself giving tons of credit to the screenwriter, but in the case of Steve Jobs, I think what Aaron Sorkin does to create an atmosphere where the obviously manufactured set-ups [in which Jobs meets various people leading up to important product launches] works is something of a revelatory experience. Part of the reason I think the three-act structure is so hugely successful is Sorkin and director Danny Boyle's insistence to have the scenes play out in real time [which has us in audience] gradually inching towards the edge of our seats desperate to see whether everything will be resolved by the time Jobs needs to take the stage. As the film progresses and the second and third acts begin, we in the audience are now aware of the gimmick and the insistence of Sorkin to have Jobs meet up with [each person in the cast] and the anticipation we felt in Act One grows even more as we now find ourselves desperate to discover how Jobs's relationships will either become positively or negatively affected by his actions. This concept is a writer's conceit but it, along with Sorkin's fast-talking highfalutin dialog, works.
How Aaron Sorkin didn't get nominated for this is flabbergasting to me because Steve Jobs really is a screenwriting master class. (SoH...Sept 24)
Previous RyMickey Award Winners