Skyfall’s Oscar campaign and its quirks

Daniel Craig, among those being suggested for consideration in Skyfall Oscar ads.

Skyfall’s Oscar campaign puts forth Daniel Craig “for your consideration” to Oscar voters.


Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer definitely are pressing to secure Oscar nominations for Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie. The studios are buying ads on entertainment news sites such as Deadline Hollywood, with rotating banner ads listing possible Oscar-worthy performers and crew “for your consideration.”

Perhaps the most detailed list in the Skyfall Oscar campaign is a list of suggested nominees on THE FILM’S OFFICIAL WEB SITE. It urges that Skyfall be considered for:

Best Picture (Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli; producers receive the Best Picture Oscar)

Best Director (Sam Mendes)

Best Adapted Screenplay (emphasis added, which we’ll discuss in a moment, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan)

Best Actor (Daniel Craig); Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney); Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench, Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris)

Various crew categories including cinematography (Roger Deakins), editing (Stuart Baird), original score (Thomas Newman) and song (Adele and Paul Epworth).

A few questions:

Adapted screenplay? Adapted from what? The on-screen credit reads, “Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan.” Generally, you use “written by” for an original screenplay, i.e. one not based on an existing novel, play, short story, etc.

It’s pretty well known that the writing crew took parts of Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun novels as a starting point, in particular Twice’s Chapter 21, an obituary of Bond written by M. But the movie’s credits don’t acknowledge this. It’s “Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007″ in the main titles, but there’s no mention of other Fleming source material, unlike 2006′s Casino Royale, which mentioned Fleming twice, including the Casino Royale novel.

In the “old days,” the titles said “Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love,” or Goldfinger, Thunderball, etc. which implied it was based on a Fleming story. That was true even when chunks were thrown out, such as 1967′s You Only Live Twice or 1979′s Moonraker. This would be followed by a “Screenplay by” credit, which often implies adapting other source material.

“Screenplay by” can also be used for an original story that has been rewritten substantially such as “Screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein, Story by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade,” as in 1999′s The World Is Not Enough. Purvis and Wade did the original screenplay, with Feirstein doing the final rewrite. (Dana Stevens also did drafts in-between but didn’t get a credit.)

Something similar happened with Skyfall: Purvis and Wade wrote the early drafts, then Logan was brought in to rewrite. But Skyfall’s writing credit is relatively streamlined compared with TWINE’s.

UPDATE: We went to the Web site of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the SPECIAL RULES FOR THE WRITING AWARDS but that wasn’t much help. It reads:

1.An award shall be given for the best achievement in each of two categories:

Adapted Screenplay

Original Screenplay

2.A Reminder List of all pictures eligible in each category shall be made available along with nominations ballots to all members of the Writers Branch, who shall vote in the order of their preference for not more than five productions in each category.
3.The five productions in each category receiving the highest number of votes shall become the nominations for final voting for the Writing awards.
4.Final voting for the Writing awards shall be restricted to active and life Academy members.

One possibility: even though Skyfall has an original story, the character of James Bond is adapted from another medium, so therefore Skyfall’s script is considered “adapted” by the academy.

UPDATE II: The writer’s branch of the academy is also known for being prickly about what’s eligible for an original screenplay award, sometimes ruling what seem like original scripts are adapted. CLICK HERE to view a story in The Wrap Web site about a 2010 example.

Berenice Marlohe or Berenice Lim Marlohe? The Oscar push again highlights the oddity of how the actress was billed one way in ads and another in the movie’s titles.

One editor or two? As we’ve noted before, Stuart Baird was listed as sole editor in Skyfall ads, but in the main titles it listed Baird and Kate Baird as editors, with Kate Baird’s name in smaller letters. Also (which we only caught on a subsequent viewing), Kate Baird is also listed as first assistant editor in the end titles.

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4 Responses

  1. One question that has always puzzled me is why there isn’t a credit for Michael Madsen in DAD.

  2. I’ve been reading Burlingame’s book that my lovely wife gave me for Christmas. I had no idea that UA promoted Clifton James for a supporting actor nomination for J.W. Pepper in LALD.

  3. Skyfall would be only eligible for Adapted Screenplay because the film features aspects (such as a character like James Bond) that have already been established in the books and of course previous films, therefore not being considered for Original Screenplay. Another good example is Toy Story 3 being nominated for Adapted Screenplay, even though it’s not based off a book and such, it is a sequel that features characters that have already been established in the first film.

  4. True, Python. The WGA website makes it clearer, where in their awards, Skyfall was listed as “adapted from the novels of Ian Fleming and the previous films.” Still pretty weird if you ask me, though!

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