85th Oscars: Writers and ‘New’ Hollywood
Host Seth Macfarlane: “Its getting late in the show, we’ll just free associate some names of the two most physically opposite Oscar winners I could find and think of and see if they appear…Dustin Hoffman and Charlize Theron.”
Charlize: The origins of many great screenplays are often a mess. They come from some inner light, inner darkness. Dustin Hoffman: Or a writer who just needs a job. Charlize: A good writer, the right writer can hear how a good story can come to life.
ARGO’s Chris Terrio won for Best Adapted Screenplay while Quentin Tarantino won for DJANGO UNCHAINED in the Best Original Screenplay category. ARGO went on to win the plum Best Picture along with Best Editing (William Goldenberg).
In his speech screenwriter Chris Terrio thanked Affleck who co-wrote GOODWILL HUNTING with Matt Damon, which also won an Oscar Best screenplay Award in 1998, “Thank you Ben Affleck. Ben 15 years ago you were up here with the first screenplay you got made and now you made this film that brought me up here. It’s a gift I can never repay it. Thank you, I love you.” Affleck was director for ARGO he also co-produced it with two other actors: George Clooney and Grant Heslov.
Terrio also credited former CIA Technical Operations Officer turned writer, “I wana dedicate this to Tony Mendez. 33 years ago using nothing but your creativity and intelligence got 6 people out of a very bad situation. So I wana dedicate this to him and the people around the world in the U.S. in Iran who use creativity and intelligence to solve problems nonviolently, thank you.”
Quentin Tarantino is the quintessential film geek. Having worked as a video rental staff his love for movies is well known, even without having a formal university degree in filmmaking. His best Original Screenplay award for DJANGO UNCHAINED is his 2nd Oscar. His first was also Best Original screenplay for PULP FICTION.
In his acceptance speech Tarantino gave credit to his cast, “That’s cool Charlize is my neighbor thank you Mr. Hoffman! I’ve been saying I want to thank the actors for what they’ve done when it comes to my script. It’s not just an easy thing to say. That’s really why I’m standing here. If people are gonna talk about my film its because of the characters that I create. And I only have one chance to get it right. I have to cast the right people to make those characters come alive and hopefully live for a long time. Boy this time did I do it. Thank you so much guys.”
DJANGO UNCHAINED also earned Best Supporting Actor award for Christoph Waltz (Dr. King Schultz). The cast includes Jamie Foxx as Django, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel Jackson, Don Johnson and Franco Nero among others.
Immediately before the JAWS theme signaling the end of the allotted time he added, “I’m getting off but I have to say it’s an honor to get it this year in both the original and the adapted screenplay the writing is just fantastic. This will be the writer’s year man! The competition has all been wonderful, peace out!”
In the post awards press conference Tarantino was able to explain that his reason for writing DJANGO UNCHAINED was to encourage an active discussion on that period of American history, “To actually take an audience member from the 21st century and stick them into the antebellum south and see a sense of what America was like back then. Even the people who have criticized the movie and some of them who don’t like it I can understand that. A lot of people DO like it. And they’ve been going back and forth. That back and forth is really what I wanted at the end of the day for this movie. And I hope that even continues for the next few years.”
Tarantino was also asked, “do you think the financial success of these films can impact studios so they can think about adult oriented serious minded fare?”According to him this has happened before, “That’s a very good question and I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I go into my own little film study from time to time and it takes crazy moments like this to put it out of my brain. I’ve been doing a lot of film study in the late 60’s early 70s in particular 69, 70 and 71.”
The late 1960’s was the beginning of an era, “Starting ‘67 that was the beginning of what they call New Hollywood. I wasn’t thinking about us. I was just doing that study for my own edification. I looked at the 9 nominees and I have to say more than most other times I actually recognized the spirit that was going on then with the 9 nominees now even backed by some commercial success in some of them. They were making adult films with subject matter that would suggest that any of these would be commercial or be popular.”
Musicals were popular immediately before the 1970s, an example is 1969’s Best Picture Awardee OLIVER in 2013 LES MISERABLE another musical wins Best Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway) and Best Make Up and Hair Styling (Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell).
Dr. Stephen Rust defines: “New Hollywood” or “The Hollywood Renaissance” refers to a unique period of U.S. studio filmmaking driven largely by up-and-coming writer/directors. These young filmmakers, influenced by the American social upheavals of the 1960s and the cinematic innovations of European filmmakers, brought explicit sex, drugs, rock and roll, and a countercultural ethos to the American cinema in the late 1960s and throughout the decade of the 1970s. According to film journalist Peter Biskind, the New Hollywood period was “the last time Hollywood produced a body of risky, high-quality work . . . that defied traditional narrative conventions, that challenged the tyranny of technical correctness, that broke the taboos of language and behavior, that dared to end unhappily.”
Some of the directors identified with New Hollywood include Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Woody Allen, Robert Altman, George Lucas, Hal Ashby, Carroll Ballard, Robert Benton, Peter Bogdanovich, John Boorman, Michael Cimino, Brian De Palma, Miloš Forman and Bob Fosse.
While it still may be too early to compare the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee (Best Director- Life of Pi), Ben Affleck (Best Picture-ARGO) and Kathryn Bigelow (Best Picture-HURT LOCKER) to the aforementioned names they are certainly well on their way. Steven Spielberg of LINCOLN has certainly earned that right.