Jason Reitman Makes Case for 'Looper' Screenplay to Get Oscar Nod
In case you haven't noticed, it's awards season. Various critics associations and guilds are starting to give out their accolades for achievement in film for the year 2012, the Golden Globe nominations have already been announced, but the nominations for the Academy Awards won't arrive until January 10th. In the meantime, there's plenty of buzz about who deserves to get nominated. Today some attention has been called to a specific film by an unlikely champion. Director and writer Jason Reitman has made quite a compelling case for Rian Johnson's sci-fi film Looper to get nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Johnson both wrote and directed the film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, and the director of Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air and Young Adult not only praises the film's script, but also points out a lack of respect and honor for iconic sci-fi films, specifically their scripts, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Here's Reitman's comments on Looper which he gave to EW as part of their Consider This series for awards season:
Here’s a fun fact… you know what 'Alien,' 'Blade Runner,' 'Close Encounters' and 'The Matrix' have in common? I mean, outside of being timeless groundbreaking movies that changed the way we watch cinema. None of these films were acknowledged for their screenplays — which makes me wonder, is it just because they have flying cars and hyperbaric sleep chambers and creatures with acid in their blood? Perhaps we’re so thoroughly engrossed that we dismiss how these films triumph in their examination of complicated ideas. Or maybe, as writers, we have some sort of prejudice against futuristic costume and production design.
If you break it down, at the center of these great science fiction movies are traditional writerly themes: mid-life crisis, motherhood, gender equality, and the fragility of human experience. 'Alien' asked ground breaking questions about eco-politics and female empowerment. 'The Matrix' delved deeper into the concept of perception versus reality than perhaps any other film I know. But for some reason, we tend not to remember the significance of their writing.
'Looper' isn’t a film about time travel. It isn’t a film about telekinetic powers. It isn’t about flying motorcycles or eye drop hallucinogens. It uses these concepts as well as any science fiction film I’ve seen, but it also knows the difference between a prop and a story. Time travel is a prop. Looper is about what your 55-year-old self would tell your 25-year-old self over a cup of coffee. It’s about finding love in the third act of your life. It’s about overcoming trauma and the idea of true sacrifice.
Looper is so deftly told that it’s easy to forget how difficult the maneuvers are that Rian Johnson is pulling off with grace and sophistication. His screenplay employs unparalleled structural fluidity, complicated and moving visions of the future, and a language of its own invention that is somehow foreign and yet just in our grasp. It’s size and ambition slip by the eyes and ears so stealthily and by the way … it’s an independently made film! Never has it been more important to consider the unique routes innovative stories take as they navigate their way to the big screen. One can only imagine what might have happened to Johnson’s screenplay had it been forced to pass through more hands.
There’s an unfortunate probability that the most original of the original screenplays this year has a chance of being overlooked. Rian Johnson’s Looper is inventive, entertaining, and thought-provoking in every way a movie can be. It is in fact the kind of movie that reminds us why we watch them and make them. A beautifully told story that deserves to be not only remembered, but acknowledged for its writing.
That's a pretty damn great argument for Looper to get some Oscar love. We just named the film one of our six surprisingly great films of the year, and The National Board of Review and the Washington DC Film Critics Association actually named Looper the best screenplay of the year. As for nominations, the Broadcast Critics Awards included it in the screenplay category. Will the Academy give Looper some Oscar love when the nominations arrive on January 10th? Or will it join the list of classic sci-fi films that haven't been honored with such awards attention? Stay tuned and find out early next year. What do you think?