Oscars 2023, All Best Original Screenplay Nominees Ranked: The year 2022 celebrated a diverse range of cinema. From intense dramas to social satires, from genre-conforming pieces to genre celebrations, 2022 kept its audience in awe as cinema traveled across the globe. The same diversity can be found in the academy nominations across categories, albeit with a few disappointments due to our personal tryst with cinema. But none of it demotivates us from following the Academy and its recognition of the year’s best. Or let’s say, what the Academy thinks is the year’s best.





Related Read: Oscars 2023: Ranking All the Adapted Screenplay Nominations With Winner Prediction


One of the toughest categories to choose from would be the Original Screenplay category, in which no film is less meritorious than the other in its claim for the award. Hence, ranking them feels like a mammoth task to perform. Nevertheless, below is the ranked list of how I perceive all the best original screenplay nominees.




5. Triangle of Sadness

Original Screenplay

Every satire finds itself burdened with the responsibility of dichotomizing society into the oppressors and the oppressed. It then objectifies the former group while empathizing with the latter. But the emphasis on empathy must not overshadow the bitterness with which the punching up is done. A satire, after all, is not an amplification of marginalized voices or a representation of a group’s misery. It is an argument. Loudness is built into its form, and de-complexification is its natural obligation. And the success of a satire depends on how frequently and accurately it can mock social institutions, behaviors, and outcomes of conformity.

Triangle of Sadness is successful as a satire mostly because it is imaginative with its character choices. It focuses its gaze on the responder or the receiver of speech or commentary than on the speaker in order to emphasize the impact of social phenomena that are passively violent or foreshadow violence on subjects. This choice helps us recognize that even the most ordinary circumstances have numerous triggers and sources of discomfort. And if they aren’t registered by us when we are an active participant in similar situations, it is because we hold a privileged position of power.




Divided into three chapters, namely Carl and Yaya, The Yatch, and The Island, the film satirizes social roles, social systems, and existence itself when roles can no longer be performed according to the capitalist order, respectively. It doesn’t take refuge in caricatures to move its point forward, but none of the characters is devoid of pretension.

However, the reason why I find Triangle of Sadness to have the weakest screenplay among all nominees is its loose third act that attempts to allegorize the incompetency of the “developed” Global North in matters of life and death, for its golden palace stands upon the foundation of the labor of Global South. The idea isn’t hollow in itself because social positions get inherited once and enforced perpetually, where certain people are seen as suitable for only certain things. The resolution feels like an homage to Boon Joon Ho’s Parasite. But unlike Parasite, Triangle of Sadness cops out by merely foreshadowing and not actually establishing that subversion of the status quo isn’t possible without destroying the world order. And in the process, Triangle of Sadness ends up betraying the very cynicism it committed to in the beginning.




There’s also a feeling of discomfort arising due to the unequal power dynamic between characters owning to their ethnicity, which wasn’t the case with Parasite since the latter only dealt with class hierarchy. In contrast, Triangle of Sadness deals with (false) ethnic hierarchy intersecting and coinciding with class hierarchy. Therefore, the European gaze manifests a portrayal that has implications.


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4. The Fabelmans

Original Screenplay, Oscars 2023

Spielberg’s recollection of his life history in this semi-autobiographical narrative has an ethereal screenplay. The cinematic expression here feels like Spielberg is telling a story as he remembers it. The characters don’t feel existing in real time but rather manifestations of a remembered past. And consequently, the screenplay changes its form from “how it’s happening?” to “how it happened?”




The fable-like screenplay is very much intended and very smartly executed. But the act of finding oneself by reminiscing one’s own journey compromises with the reality of the other characters involved. And thus suffers the drama. The sequences develop an illusory characteristic as they progress and conversations become neat. However, what remains fascinating is the display of the motion picture’s potency in informing the journey of life as well as one’s journey into themselves. The camera becomes the window to look inside. The photographs become the trolley that carries an individual through their individuality in the search for selfhood. Eventually, The Fabelmans becomes a coming-of-age film that allows its audience to live vicariously through the director’s experiences.




Art has been defined again and again, and Speilberg’s latest film expands its definition. It will be remembered as one of his most personal works.

3. Tar

Tar at Oscars 2023

My interpretation suggests that Tar is based on a Foucauldian premise. It is aware that it cannot escape the baggage of identity in the choice of its characters. Earlier, the choice of identity was governed by conventions rooted in racism and misogyny. But a choice governed by convention is the same as one governed by bigotry. In light of the aforementioned, Tar tackles the question of whether identity galvanizes or neutralizes the exercise of power.




 

Therefore, the first choice it has to make is of who Tar is. Subsequently, Tar is given the identity of a homosexual white woman whose assertive tendency is an outcome of her knowledge capital. The second choice is to render her a social position, and thus, she is established as a Maestro. Todd Field seems to be operating with the inherent inextricability of power and knowledge, with Tar deriving power from her knowledge, attempting to monopolize it, and then acquiring more knowledge in exercising power, which further reproduces power. Tar sees identity and merit in detachment from each other. The merit lies in one’s stock of knowledge and their ability to shape it.

In Foucault’s critical theory of power-knowledge, the ability to shape knowledge allows power to (re-)create its fields of exercise. And therefore, Tar’s within-the-screen ideology seems to justify the beyond-the-screen choice of her identity. Essentially, the abuse of power transcends the boundaries of identity “because” power is derived from capital. The only difference here is: while for men, their identity is capital per se, for women, the capital can only be their individual merit.




Tar’s screenplay documents the covert exercises of power and the outcome of escaping accountability. It also reveals the contradiction of detaching identity from merit by showing how human biases in favor of an identity overcompensate for merit, whereas those against an identity undermine merit altogether. And to act upon a bias and present it as rationality itself is one of the ways in which power is put to use.

2. The Banshees Of Inisherin

Original Screenplay

I had only seen Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, prior to watching The Banshees of Inisherin. I was partially aware of Martin McDonagh’s dark wit that pits regular characters against each other in situations of institutional and/or existential crisis. But I did not have a concrete idea of the director’s methods and motivations. So I didn’t know what to expect from The Banshees of Inisherin. The film ventured into familiar territory as Three Billboards when it built a screenplay around its ensemble of characters to show how everyone is struggling.




The Banshees of Inisherin has a set of protagonists like any other film. But it effectively portrays everyone’s story without allowing its screenplay to meander. Every person finds themselves engaged in the central hullabaloo, having peripheral roles to play in the conflict. However, the degree of their engagement and their personal motivations reveal how lonely they are in their togetherness. How life is a constant struggle in search of meaning and in sustaining whatever gives it meaning. We seek meaning to escape loneliness. We seek companionship to escape loneliness. What will happen if a tradeoff arises in the pursuit of meaning and companionship?




The Banshees of Inisherin will leave you thinking for yourself, your interactions in society, and your pursuit of meaning of life.

1. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once

I remember not loving Everything Everywhere All At Once on my first watch. It came out to me as a mechanical meditation on the meaning of life that contradicted itself in its indulgences through the screenplay. My greatest reservation was a key sequence in which the film preaches kindness and, in the next moment, violates its principal by engaging in softened, passive violence. Upon my second watch, I could see the emphasis on ‘Everything.’




Everything Everywhere All At Once was putting upon internalizing kindness in one’s social behavior. The film was never about the meaninglessness of life in the grander scheme of things. But about embracing your reality and adopting kindness not merely as a virtue but as a survival strategy. In a world marred by hate and bigotry, kindness is the most important thing to embrace. When this moral core was revealed in all its glory on a second viewing, the film became a work of wonder.

The screenplay was no longer mechanical but a carefully crafted song with a rhythm that was engulfed in empathy for existence itself. It boldly said that where we are going or we could have been doesn’t matter. All that matters is where we are now. The present exists and shapes our future. The future cannot shape our present, and it mustn’t. Everything Everywhere All At Once is my pick for the best screenplay due to its coherence across multidimensional storytelling and the eventual convergence where reality achieves dominance over possibilities and love remains.





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