Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven)

Best Original Screenplay

2003 wins: Online Film Critics, Seattle Film Critics, Southeastern Film Critics

2003 noms: Chicago Film Critics, European Film Awards, Golden Globes

Oscar pedigree: None.

Haynes on “Far From Heaven”: “Creating a ’50s-era melodrama today and playing it straight might seem a perplexing impulse. Yet the strongest melodramas are those without apparent villains, where characters end up hurting each other unwittingly, just by pursuing their desires. To impose upon the seeming innocence of the 1950s themes as mutually volatile as race and sexuality is to reveal how volatile those subjects remain today.”

What we said: “While reconjuring the style, emotional tone, cliches and many of the plot points and stock characters of ’50s melodramas, Haynes goes far beyond mere pastiche or homage. He builds a full-blooded universe and a moving emotional drama. In addition to classic Sirk soaps — in particular “Imitation of Life” and “All That Heaven Allows” — Haynes draws from the films of John M. Stahl and Max Ophuls’ ‘The Reckless Moment,’ among others.” — David Rooney (Sept. 2)

What the others said: “Haynes knows that the impossible world he’s created will inspire giggles, but he’s savvy enough to have orchestrated the precise moment in ‘Far From Heaven’ when the laughter stops dead. … He’s grasped that no matter how righteous a film’s politics, there’s no more powerful way to seduce an audience than to sweep it away in a flood of tears.” — Manohla Dargis, L.A. Times

This could be the night: A writer-director took home a screenplay Oscar as recently as 2000: Cameron Crowe for “Almost Famous.”

Then comes the rub: The Douglas Sirk references might be too arcane for Oscar voters.

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