On the heels of the WGA's announcement, here are my five best Original Screenplays of 2011:
50/50 (Will Reiser):
That the story of a young man diagnosed with cancer could be treated as a comedy is something of a small feat. That the humour never strays into morbid territory is more impressive still. One of the most emotionally compelling aspects Reiser's screenplay is how it devotes balanced attention to Adam's family and friends.
Beginners (Mike Mills):
This gentle little drama about the generation-spanning challenge of finding happiness succeeds in great part due to Mills' thoughtful screenplay. It's beautifully restrained, employing a melancholy sense of humour when needed to lighten his film's understated but deep-running sadness.
Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin):
Durkin is clearly a talent to watch. His screenplay is an artful psychological study that unobtrusively guides the audience to their own understanding of what is dream and what is reality, what is paranoia and what is justified fear. The story does meander a bit, but it feels real that way.
Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen):
Playing both cynic and sentimentalist, Allen presents us with a humourous and perplexing psychological love affair that draws us to an epiphany about the root of nostalgia and our human dissatisfaction. It is his freshest, most imaginative premise since The Purple Rose of Cairo.
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi):
A complex, layered story whose painful truths are universal ones. It delves deep into human conscience and exposes the dangerous inconsistencies between our personal moral codes, our responsibilities to model ethics for our children, and the emotional consequences of neglecting those responsibilities.
Just missed: The Artist, Rampart, The Tree of Life, Young Adult