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Mike Franks wonders:
 
 
> . . . if i don't want to resort to the total cynicism of colleagues who
> suggest that the awards are COMPLETELY political and have nothing to do
> with quality, i'm left thinking that the film's screenplay must have gotten
> attention merely because of three moderately effective set-pieces: the
> second consultation with robin william's shrink; the argument/confrontation
> between shrink and math prof; and --the one i liked best-- will's little
> diatribe about how taking a corporate job would be selling out his
> principles . . . of course this speech -- the single most patient piece of
> cinematography in the film -- makes absolutely no sense coming from will,
> whose morality involves pummeling people who offended him years ago, and
> is, at its best, sophomoric political analysis, redolent of the worst
> sixties rhetoric . . . still, it IS an extended piece of verbal language,
> and a crowd pleaser -- so perhaps that's what earned the screenplay
> attention . . .
 
I think you've nailed the major reasons in the script itself.  I agree
that it's a fairly standard plot with a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too
ending, but a couple of other things stand out: the general level of
dialogue exchange between the friends in the bar scenes and at work,
and (as shallow as it is) one of the few "major" films that actually
deigns to realize that not all people live in 90210 territory (just see
John Hughes' ouevre for the prototype--even if it is Chicago).
 
In addition, I understand that the screenplay awards are not voted on
after a careful perusal of the shooting script or cutting continuity,
so factors of performance, editing, etc. can have more than intangible
effects.  (Consider the nicely understated jealousy of the grad.
assistant, for example.)
 
As a final note, I do wish that Stellan Skaagard (the math prof.) had
gotten the nomination and the award, rather than Williams.  I was very
impressed with his performance, all the more so when I saw the contrast
that he brought to BREAKING THE WAVES, which I saw only a couple of
weeks ago!
 
Don Larsson
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Donald Larsson, Mankato State U (MN)
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