A lot of notices are zipping around about various ‘best screenplay’ nominations for 2011.  And a few of them have a love/hate relationship with general audiences, so I thought I’d offer a mashup of some of the more out of the norm stories that generated buzz last year — TREE OF LIFE, THE ARTIST, THE DESCENDANTS and some related successes. For the most part I’ll leave it up to you to decide if any of these are best screenplay contenders, or more importantly if they grab you in the 1st 10 pages.

When reading THE TREE OF LIFE‘s  1st 10 pages I couldn’t help but thing about Koyaanisqatsi; breathtaking important and powerful — yes — but you have to be in the mood for it.

But happily the script does progress, albeit a tough read, certainly Malick’s directing really brought the film to life, as it should. And given that he also wrote it, he didn’t really have to worry too much about alienating readers or studio development executives it was his baby and he delivered it well.

If you’re interested in learning more about the unique structure of Tree of Life, (there is a name and standard for it) the very talented Jacob Krueger is hosting an online (and in person if you’re in NYC) seminar on January 11th.

THE TREE OF LIFE Seminar

And Hegelian Dialectical Structure Wednesday, January 11th, 7pm-9pm
Dialectic structure is not just for epic art house films. Learn how to use this unique type of structure to breathe life into your characters move your film forward.

It’s a very reasonable price for an extremely valuable look at character work, here’s the link again:

http://www.writeyourscreenplay.com/the-tree-of-life-seminar/

And, here’s the link to the 1st 10 pages of TREE OF LIFE.

If want to take the seminar let me know and I’ll send you the whole script.

Now, what is truly remarkable about THE ARTIST is that even with its ancient format and structure that lends to a truncated page length; on page 10 we have Peppy and George ‘in love’. The mid-point is equally clear as is the 2nd act turning point into the 3rd.

Though it is prose-like in places, it is a good representation of ‘show not tell’, and that is what silent films do best.  That and the dialogue cards, sparse as they are, are nearly all laden with subtext and zingers. Yes, it’s all about pushing the drama, but that’s why it’s worth a look to see how you can push the drama in your story.

The fact of the matter is, old is new again, what goes around comes around, everything is cyclical, blah blah insert mantra here… And what I mean is, lets look at some of the biggest successes of last year(s) in film, online and on shelves: THE ARTIST, THE MUPPETS, HUGO (based on the novel THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET), the amazing app/online book/film all around transmedia project, THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MORRIS LESMORE (great character name btw) and by the same author of THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET, Brian Selznick, and his new book WONDERSTRUCK. All of these huge successes, and beautiful stories, play homage to a simpler time somewhere on the border of silent film and talkies. Except for the Muppets they only go back as far as the 80’s but still incredible to see how far we’ve come, to go back. The point is, not to write to a trend, but clearly all of these projects were a result of a creative approach ‘in the air’ at a certain time, to be tapped into and released in almost at the same time. Think about that, don’t be afraid to ‘toon’ into, or play homage to nostalgia and make it relevant, chances are you could be part of a trend and not know it until you read about it in the trades. For your consideration here is a link to the entire 44 page script:

http://twcguilds.com/assets/screenplay/the-artist.pdf

And the Weinstein’s are generously providing all of their considerations for download here:  twcguilds.com

 

THE DESCENDANTS.

I can’t help but wonder if George Clooney weren’t Matt King, (and to some extent, if this wasn’t a Black List script), would this have generated so much heat. Don’t get me wrong I love George and his ability to uh, generate heat. And the script is good but I’ve read better. See for yourself, Fox Searchlight has also stepped up and officially posted it for download HERE.

Aside from the excessive voice-over, (again it works because it’s George), I just felt cheated at the end which I guess in a way supports a main plot point. I did however love the character work in the girls and of course, George.

Enjoy and stay tooned.

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