2011 Calvin Awards: Best Screenplay
By Josh Spiegel
February 18, 2011
The folks here at Box Office Prophets aren’t going to agree on everything. What’s more, we’re certainly not likely to agree with the Oscars on everything. We’re not the establishment, and thus we want to rebel against it, right? Of course. This is why we have the Calvins. They’re better than the Oscars (not a scientific fact, but we don’t need James Franco or Anne Hathaway to host our awards for them to be cool). That said, you may be a bit disappointed by this year’s Calvin awards for Best Screenplay, because in this category, we have mostly agreed on the winner, and we are very likely to agree with the Oscar voters. If you think of the many films that were released in 2010, and those films with notable screenplays, you may well know the answer to the big, burning question: what film got the most votes for the Best Screenplay Calvin?
No surprises here, sorry. This year, the Calvin goes to The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin. Though the film’s Oscar hopes are in doubt for bigger categories like Best Director and Best Picture, pretty much everyone still thinks Sorkin, the former creator of The West Wing, is going to pick up an Oscar for his fast-paced, dialogue-heavy screenplay about the creation of the social networking website Facebook, based on The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. As I said, our voters were surprisingly on the same page here, as Sorkin’s work received 65% of the first place votes. We’re not always going against each other’s opinions, but this much agreement is something rare at BOP. Still, when you think back to The Social Network, can you blame us?
Sorkin’s work is a big part of why The Social Network succeeds so well. Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake all give great performances here (and I can tell you that I never thought I’d include the latter name in any such sentence). But would their work be as notable if they hadn’t had such dialogue to deliver? “If you guys were the inventors of Facebook…you’d have invented Facebook.” “Did I accurately answer your condescending question?” And so on. The Social Network is a great film, but it’s so successful because of Aaron Sorkin’s excellent writing. We here at Box Office Prophets couldn’t help but agree with just about every critics’ group, guild, and other award-givers this year: The Social Network’s script rules.
Though Sorkin’s victory here is very dominant, that doesn’t mean other films didn’t make solid showings in the category. Our number two screenplay of 2010 is another adapted work, this time from Joel and Ethan Coen, who wrote a remake of True Grit, the 1969 Western starring John Wayne. This time, True Grit stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. The Coens delivered another entertaining film, possibly their most accessible. The most difficult role went to newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, as the young lead who has to be smart but not precocious. The script is as funny as anything the Coens have written, and the performers are more than up to the challenge. Though True Grit wasn’t close to The Social Network here, it was one of only five films with any first place votes. True Grit is another home-run from the Coens, from directing to writing to everything else.