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The death of the original screenplay…?

The death of the original screenplay…? (photo)

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This week’s favorite Oscar topic, besides last night’s announcement that Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will be co-hosting the awards, is where all the original screenplays have gone.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Steven Zeitchik points out the a dearth of obvious candidates for the “Best Original Screenplay” category. If “Up,” “Inglourious Basterds” and “A Serious Man” are virtual locks, what else does that leave us with? Zeitchik proposes “(500) Days Of Summer,” and maybe “The Hangover” or “Star Trek.” (Yes, under the Academy’s ever-dizzying, perpetually nonsensical rules, it’s a possibility.) THE ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY MUST BE DEAD. Because “ever since the studios became obsessed with remakes and sequels, there’s been a depletion of the kind of new ideas that once populated the category.”

Well, except that, unlike many of the other categories, Best Original Screenplay nominees don’t have to have made a lot of money — recent ones have included “Frozen River” (domestic gross: $2.5 million) and “Lars and the Real Girl” ($5.9 million). And being foreign isn’t really a disqualifier: in the past decade, “Y tu mamá también,” “Amélie,” and “Pan’s Labyrinth have all been nominated (and Mike Leigh’s gotten the nod twice).

So there’s no reason “Adventureland,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Moon” couldn’t take up slots without having to cede ground to “The Hangover” (since the Academy does, after all, hate comedies). God help us, they could nominate “Away We Go,” since the Academy always lusts after literary semi-prestige. if the committee decides “District 9” is original despite its short film origins, that could go in as well. And there’s no problem with biopics being nominated (Dustin Lance Black won most recently for “Milk”), so why not “Bright Star”?

Anyway, even in the supposed golden age of studio originality of, say, the ’40s, the year a stodgy biopic wasn’t nominated was rare. A now-forgotten one about Woodrow Wilson (imaginatively titled “Wilson”) won in 1944. Even in the edgier ’70s, the Academy still found the time to nominate a Churchill biopic (“Young Winston”).

There are at least two screenplays this year which, while technically “adaptations,” are imaginative expansions way beyond their source material: “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Where The Wild Things Are,” both of which basically use the children’s books on which they’re based as jumping-off points for true originality. So no more “there are no original ideas,” please.

[Photo: “A Serious Man,” Focus Features, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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