The 2022 Oscar nominees are upon us, causing every film fanatic to write about their hot takes, display who they feel should win, and discuss the biggest misses award-wise. Who doesn’t love arguing about cinema? Regardless, 2021 was an excellent year for film, especially in the Best Original Screenplay section.
In this article, I will discuss the Best Original Screenplays and rank them from worst to best. I enjoyed these films (though there was one that made me question the existence of the Oscars in the first place). Maybe I’m being too harsh, but for now, let’s take a look at this list!
Still from "The Worst Person in the World". Photo credit: The Cinemaholic
Logline: Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn humanity of an approaching comet that will destroy Earth.
If you told me there’d be a dark comedy about a comet potentially destroying Earth without any care from half of the U.S. and the government, I would’ve been more excited than anyone else. If you then told me it was a more profound allegory for climate change and starred Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, and so many others, I would’ve told you: “This has the potential to be my favorite film ever.”
Instead, what we got, was a movie so on-the-nose with its jokes that it became overly repetitive to the point that I had enough. Not to mention its staggering two and a half hour length, I genuinely don’t understand how anyone could recognize Don’t Look Up with an Oscar nominee, or four for that matter! To keep it simple, Don’t Look Up could’ve been a great movie, but it went with the obvious throughout its bloated length. I don’t even know how it made it onto this list.
Logline: A young boy and his working-class Belfast family experience the tumultuous late 1960s.
Though I have Belfast rated fourth after tearing apart Don’t Look Up, this doesn’t mean Belfast is a bad film. I love the general premise of Belfast, being a black and white film about a young boy in Ireland during the 1960s. Belfast sounds like an incredible flick, with the potential to have the emotional impact as a masterful film like Roma.
Truthfully, Belfast felt a little flat for me. I enjoyed the film and can see why it was nominated. The story was just a bit too fragmented and didn’t have the impact I expected. Maybe I thought too highly of the film going into it, but either way, definitely watch Belfast.
Logline: A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father, Richard Williams.
Many will look back on the last ten years as the re-birth of the biopic. We’ve had a lot of biopics over the last few years, with the latest being King Richard. Anyone interested in sports, specifically tennis, can appreciate King Richard for its dramatic performance of how the Williams sisters got to where they are.
Truthfully, my three and fourth spot could switch if I wanted to, since I enjoyed King Richard as much as I did Belfast. There wasn’t anything groundbreaking or unique to King Richard, but this isn’t to say it's a bad film. It’s a good watch and pays off with an emotional story that will inspire anyone who views it.
Logline: The story of Alana Kane and Gary Valentine growing up, running around, and going through the treacherous navigation of first love in the San Fernando Valley, 1973.
My number two and one spot on the list are two films I thought were significantly above the rest. I have Licorice Pizza at number two, the latest from Paul Thomas Anderson that sadly performed terribly at the box office. I loved Licorice Pizza, despite some of its minor flaws.
It was a hilarious film with an overtone of emotional baggage with its two central characters, Alana and Gary, Alana wanting to remain young and uncertain about her future, and Gary desperately trying to be more mature amidst his acting and various business schemes. I’d argue Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman had two of the best debut acting performances with Alana and Gary. My only real minor complaints are its somewhat unbelievable plotline at times and not enough scenes of Bradley Cooper as Jon Peters. Overall, this film ruled.
Logline: The chronicles of four years in the life of Julie, a young woman who navigates the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she is.
At number one, I have The Worst Person in the World. Any film that touches on the notion of society’s disciplinary standards and someone who doesn’t fall in line with those standards will quickly obtain my love.
Similar to films like Boyhood, the After trilogy, Marriage Story, and Frances Ha tone-wise, The Worst Person in the World focuses on Julie and her life from college to her late 30s. A whirlwind of emotions are flung upon us while Julie goes throughout life, hitting the deepened layer of wondering if we’ve done enough with our time. It’s a perfect film, and I can’t wait to watch it again.