Was 2011 all just a dream? Many of the year’s best screenplays emerged from the depths of the subconscious. In fact, conventional straightforward storytelling largely gave way to a cinematic trompe le monde, including the hallucinatory narrative of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” the jumbled reverie of Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life,” the dream within a dream — or movie within a movie — of John Logan’s “Hugo,” the untrustworthy reality of Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” and Steve Zaillian’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” which unfolds with the air of a dream, where meaning is hidden and clues dangle just beyond the reach of memory.
Scribes explored waking-from-a-nightmare scenarios, including Alexander Payne, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s adapted script “The Descendants” and Will Reiser’s original “50/50.” Both were tapped for screenplay prize by the National Board of Review and D.C. film crix.
Also hearkening the nightmare motif was Lynne Ramsay & Rory Kinnear’s Columbine-esque drama “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” Eric Roth’s post-9/11 tale “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” and Asghar Farhadi’s family tragedy “A Separation,” named top screenplay by the L.A. film crix.
The groggy daze of a hangover set the tone for both Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s “Bridesmaids” and Diablo Cody’s “Young Adult,” where a stiff drink prompted more than one character to question, “What have I done?”
For a more clear-eyed alert approach, there was the reality check of Tate Taylor’s “The Help” and Aaron Sorkin and Zaillian’s “Moneyball,” honored by the New York and Boston film crix.
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