Best Screenplays 2018
Eighth Grade, Vice, The Favourite, and more
Every year at the award shows, as the actors pick up their shining gold statues, they thank a long list of folks they feel are responsible for why they’re basking in all that adoration. Once they get past the Lord, their parents, their agents, and their makeup artists, they get to the gist of it all: they thank the writers. The very scribes responsible for creating their character and the lovely words pouring out of their lipsticked mouths. PROVOKR celebrates the screenwriters this year who wrote the dialogue in five fantastic films that made us fall in love, cry poignant tears, scream with laughter, and remember what it felt like to be 14 years-old.
First time writer/director Bo Burnham surprised audiences with his insightful, on-the-button portrait of fourteen-year-old Kayla Day, a shy teen hoping to squeak through the last days of junior high unscathed. Veteran actor Elsie Fisher—seriously, she’s been working since she was five—gives such an effortless performance, you’d swear the dialogue is all hers, especially the sweet advice to her peers, delivered via a barren YouTube channel. An indie darling, Eighth Grade has been sweeping up awards at film festivals all year and is up for four at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, including Best First Screenplay. Burnham’s sharp words hit as true as an arrow to the heart.
Funny or Die creator Adam McKay is as droll they get. After all, he is the writer responsible for most of the hilarious words that Will Ferrell recites in films (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, The Other Guys). In Vice, McKay turns his focus and camera on former Vice President Dick Cheney, played by an unrecognizable Christian Bale. With pros like Academy Award-winners Amy Adams (Sharp Objects) and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards), and the ubiquitous Steve Carell (Beautiful Boy, Welcome to Marwen), delivering the snappy political discourse, McKay is a shoe-in for an Oscar nod for this sardonic knee-slapper.
Satirical crowd-pleaser, The Favourite, has many things going for it: great performances, eye-popping costumes, and a script as tight as the corsets worn by its stars. Already up for a Golden Globe, the screenplay by newbie Deborah Davis and veteran TV writer Tony McNamara, is as quirky as the direction by Yorgos Lanthimos. With the three stars, Olivia Colman (The Crown), Emma Stone (La La Land), and Rachel Weisz (Disobedience) vying for acting awards, no doubt they’ll be indebted to the writers responsible for their words.
Sorry to Bother You
First-time screenwriter, Boots Riley, has been a rapper and social activist for decades. He combines his talent and passion on this biting script about Cassius Green, a telemarketer played by Atlanta star Lekeith Stanfield. Initially unable to close a deal, or even open a deal, Cassius’ co-worker, Danny Glover, advices him to use his “white voice” when calling customers. Eureka! The ambitious Cassius is quickly promoted to a “power caller,” making a lot of money and muddling up his socialist ideals. Smart stuff.
Considering there is very little dialogue in writer/director Alfonso Cuarón’s memory piece, it’s interesting to see how many nominations and wins Roma is garnering for its screenplay. Beautifully filmed with long, lingering shots of domestic worker Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) doing her daily duties for a middle-class Mexican family, the script is a unforgettable study of the human condition and the power of family, even under the worst conditions. It’s a knockout.