Top 10 Films of 2016, No. 7 – La La Land

La La Land is a romantic comedy musical written and directed by Damien Chazelle. The film is set in Los Angeles and follows aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone), who serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions, and dedicated jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who plays in dingy bars in order to scrape by. The two meet and fall in love, but, as success mounts, the dreams they worked so hard to maintain threaten to rip them apart.

This past fall, I wrote about how much I was looking forward to seeing La La Land, and my main motivation was the director, Damien Chazelle. In 2014, Chazelle burst onto the scene with his Best Picture-nominated Whiplash, which ranked as my No. 1 film from the entire year. On the strength of my love for Whiplash, I could not wait for La La Land—and thanks to Chazelle’s genius, it did not disappoint. La La Land is incredibly romantic and charming, and, just like in Whiplash, Chazelle’s love for jazz reigns supreme.

With a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations, Chazelle has cemented himself as one of the best filmmakers in the game. Although I did not find this film as enthralling and emotionally disarming as Whiplash, I still found La La Land to be a delightfully astounding piece of cinema. I mean, Chazelle shut down a major Los Angeles highway in the heat of summer in order to shoot one of the most memorable opening scenes of all time—it takes a certain degree of brilliance to make that happen and Chazelle nailed it!

One of the critiques I have heard regarding La La Land is that although it is a wonderful film, it does not pack the same timeless punch as Hollywood’s most momentous musicals, such as Singin’ in the Rain. Although I somewhat concur in that observation, it does not make La La Land any less amazing. As a modern musical, it is definitely one of the best I have seen—the characters are charismatic, the story is enchanting, and the music is memorable. In fact, after seeing this film in the theater, I listened to the soundtrack over and over and over again. The two standout tracks are the songs up for Best Original Song: “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream).” These two numbers are definitely the best, but I also greatly enjoyed “Mia & Sebastian’s Theme,” which, as you could expect, is the soundtrack to the two main characters’ love; it is a beautiful piano instrumental that evokes the utmost emotional connection to Sebastian and Mia’s relationship. Needless to say, Justin Hurwitz’s composition makes this film that much more amazing.

The blend of Chazelle’s storytelling genius and Hurwitz’s melodic prowess would not be complete without performers to bring their vision to life—thankfully, the filmmakers had the ever-charming Ryan Gosling and the hilarious girl-next-door Emma Stone at their disposal. I loved these two actors together in Crazy, Stupid, Love (their chemistry was also undeniable in Gangster Squad, although that movie sucked), and in La La Land, they again just flat out fit together. Both Sebastian and Mia are dreamers in their own ways—Sebastian, a devoted but struggling jazz musician, dreams of owning his own club dedicated to this nostalgic genre, and Mia, a devoted but struggling actress, dreams of making it big in Hollywood. Life continues throwing the two curves, but they always hold tight to their desires, which ultimately places their devotion to each other in doubt. Both Gosling and Stone portray the intricacies of their characters with magnetism, and you cannot help but become emotionally invested in their relationship. Although the two flourish as both singers and dancers in all of the film’s traditional musical scenes (such as the catchy number “A Lovely Night,” set amongst the Los Angeles night sky), one of my favorite scenes was when Mia requested a performance of A Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran” by an 80s cover band at a Hollywood pool party—that band just so happened to feature the true-to-his-art Sebastian playing synthesizer. The scene gave me more than enough laughs to last the entire movie, and it was truly representative of Gosling and Stone’s dynamic on-screen chemistry. La La Land is rated PG-13 for some language.

La La Land trailer:

Academy Award nominations for La La Land:

Best Picture (Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt)

Best Director (Damien Chazelle)

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Ryan Gosling)

Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Stone)

Best Original Screenplay (Damien Chazelle)

Best Original Score (Justin Hurwitz)

Best Original Song for “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” (Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)

Best Original Song for “City of Stars” (Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul)

Best Sound Editing (Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan)

Best Sound Mixing (Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow)

Best Production Design (David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco)

Best Cinematography (Linus Sandgren)

Best Costume Design (Mary Zophres)

Best Film Editing (Tom Cross)

Previous movies on the countdown of my Top 10 Films of 2016:

  1. Fences
  2. Zootopia
  3. Nocturnal Animals

Fall Preview 2016: No. 5 – No. 1

Time to go up…cause it’s TUESDAY! More importantly, the conclusion to my “Fall Preview 2016” is finally here. Over the past few days, I have shared with you my five Honorable Mentions and No. 10 – No. 6 on the list of my most anticipated fall film releases. But now it is on to the big reveal. So, without further ado, I give you films No. 5 – No. 1 on my Fall Preview 2016 list. Enjoy!

No. 5 – La La Land

La La Land is a film set in Los Angeles where aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions, while dedicated jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) plays in dingy bars in order to scrape by. The two meet and fall in love, but, as success mounts, the dreams they worked so hard to maintain threaten to rip them apart.

I have been awaiting the release of La La Land for quite some time because of the man sitting in the director’s chair: Damien Chazelle. In 2014, Chazelle broke out with his critically acclaimed debut Whiplash, one of the best movies I have seen in years (Whiplash ranked No. 1 on my list of Top 15 Films of 2014). Considering Chazelle’s masterful filmmaking in Whiplash, it was impossible for me not to be excited for his sophomore effort. La La Land finds itself in the No. 5 slot on my list on the strength of Chazelle’s previous film, so I truly hope that it does not fall flat due to failing to meet expectations. However, rumors are that La La Land is just as good as Whiplash, garnering an immense amount of Oscar support months in advance of its release. If this thing turns out to be as good as it is being hyped up to be, Damien Chazelle will cement himself as one of the very elite filmmakers in the business today.

Part of Whiplash’s success was due to wonderful performances from its cast: J.K. Simmons delivered an Oscar-winning performance that will forever be one of my all-time favorites, and Miles Teller portrayed a determined, yet wildly intense jazz student with absolute precision. I am optimistic about La La Land’s potential because Chazelle has again assembled a top-notch cast. The aforementioned Simmons is back in a supporting role, but the film’s leads have a history of on-screen chemistry, which gives the film an extra boost. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone previously starred together in a romantic capacity in Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad, and their relationships in these films were incredibly real and believable—I cannot wait to watch them interact again here. La La Land is set for a theatrical release on December 2, 2016.

Director: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Starring: Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys, The Big Short), Emma Stone (Aloha, Birdman), and J.K. Simmons (Zootopia, Whiplash)

No. 4 – Passengers

Passengers follows the spaceship, Starship Avalon, on its 120-year voyage to a distant colony planet known as “Homestead II.” The Starship Avalon, transporting 5,259 people, has a malfunction in two of its sleep chambers. As a result, two hibernation pods open prematurely and the two people (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) that awoke are stranded on the spaceship, still 90 years from their destination. The two soon discover that the malfunction that caused them to be awoken prematurely is not the only problem afflicting the huge spaceship.

Passengers is one of those movies that has blockbuster hit written all over it. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are arguably two of the most “big time” actors currently in the business, and their collaboration here is sure to drive up ticket sales this Christmas. And rightfully so—Lawrence is a three-time Oscar-nominated actress and Pratt has ascended to mainstream stardom with performances in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World. Notwithstanding the hype that this duo has and will to continue to garner in the lead up to the film’s release, I truly believe this pairing will make waves via pure acting ability, too. Lawrence is easily one of the top three or four actresses in Hollywood, and here I expect her to combine her proficient dramatic/comedic acting skills (see Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) with her knack for adventure (see The Hunger Games). And although he has not garnered any award-worthy praise yet, Chris Pratt is definitely one of the brightest stars in Hollywood. I expect the same sharp wit from Pratt that we have grown accustomed to seeing (see Guardians of the Galaxy), and that is never a bad thing.

As far as the filmmaking, Passengers has plenty going for it. Manning the director’s chair is Morten Tyldum, the filmmaker behind the Norwegian hit Headhunters and the Oscar-nominated The Imitation Game. Headhunters is absolutely incredible and, although I was not a massive fan of The Imitation Game, I simply cannot deny the stunning meticulousness with which Tyldum crafted the film; thus, I feel comfortable with him leading Passengers, a big-budget sci-fi thriller. The fact that Jon Spaihts penned the screenplay only adds to my excitement, as he wrote the screenplay for 2012’s Prometheus, one of my favorite science-fiction films in recent memory. Passengers is set for a theatrical release on December 21, 2016.

Director: Morten Tyldum (Midnight Special, Mud)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men Apocalypse, Joy), Chris Pratt (The Magnificent Seven, Jurassic World), and Michael Sheen (Nocturnal Animals, Far from the Madding Crowd)

No. 3 – Silence

Set in the 17th century, Silence tells the story of two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and propagate Christianity.

Without a doubt, Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors of all time. From Taxi Driver to Goodfellas, Gangs of New York to The Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese has been lighting up the silver screen for decades with remarkable, high-quality films. Clearly, it is not hard to see why Silence finds itself in the top three of my list of most anticipated films this fall. In Silence, we have what can only be described as Scorsese’s true “passion project”—he began developing the film in 1990! Very few people—let alone filmmakers—could retain an interest in something for over 20 years, but that is what sets Martin Scorsese apart. The man is a cinematic visionary, and he has never once let me down with a project—I do not expect him to start now.

Aside from his filmmaking skills in general, Scorsese’s movies work on so many levels because of his ability to always get the most out of his actors. From Robert De Niro to Leonardo DiCaprio, Scorsese has worked with the best actors in the business, and those stars always seem to shine their brightest while working at Scorsese’s direction. With that said, I cannot wait to see what this iconic filmmaker has done with the pieces that he has assembled (i.e., Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson). Garfield and Driver are two of the most polished up-and-comers in Hollywood, and both of their careers have produced a number of outstanding performances—I am hopeful that they both deliver their best ones to date in Silence. What I am most excited for from a casting standpoint, however, is Liam Neeson. The Oscar-nominated actor had a supporting role in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York and knocked his limited time on the screen out of the park—I cannot wait to see the two reunite with Neeson in a starring role. It goes without saying: I expect big things! Silence is set for a theatrical release on December 23, 2016.

Director: Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street, Hugo)

Starring: Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge, 99 Homes), Liam Neeson (A Monster Calls, Non-Stop), and Adam Driver (Paterson, Midnight Special)

No. 2 – The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train follows Rachel Watson (Emma Blunt), an alcoholic who divorced her husband Tom (Justin Theroux) after she caught him cheating on her. Rachel takes the train to work daily. She fantasizes about the relationship of her neighbors, Scott and Megan Hipwell (Luke Evans and Haley Bennett), during her commute. That all changes when she witnesses something from the train window and Megan is found to be missing, presumed dead.

Back in 2014, the number one movie on this very list was Gone Girl, the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel. Two years later (albeit in the number two spot), here I am writing about The Girl on the Train. Now I know, they are two separate movies with two separate premises. But it is hard not to want to compare them in some form: They are both mystery thrillers with similar themes derived from books that took the world by storm. Gone Girl was one of the best movies I saw in 2014, and it definitely lived up to the hype for me—I sure hope The Girl on the Train does this year, too.

Aside from the attention the film is getting due to its source material’s acclaim, I have been awaiting the release of The Girl on the Train because of Emily Blunt. For those that have read my reviews in the past for Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, and Sicario, what I am about to say is old news: Emily Blunt is one of my top two favorite actresses currently in the movie business, and I have gotten to the point where I will watch anything she makes. This is not (just) because of some love affair with her on a purely shallow basis; rather, I believe she has developed into one of the premier female talents in Hollywood. On the strength of my fandom for Blunt, I am more than ready to plop down in a seat at my local theater this Friday to see what I hope turns out to be a thrilling ride (on a train, of course). The Girl on the Train is set for a theatrical release on October 7, 2016.

Director: Tate Taylor (Get On Up, The Help)

Starring: Emily Blunt (The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Sicario), Rebecca Ferguson (Florence Foster Jenkins, Missions: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Haley Bennett (The Magnificent Seven, Hardcore Henry), Justin Theroux (Zoolander 2, Wanderlust), and Luke Evans (High-Rise, Furious 7)

No. 1 – Arrival

Arrival follows an elite team that is put together to investigate when multiple mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. Mankind teeters on the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers—and to find them, team members Louise Banks (Amy Adams), Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) will take a chance that could threaten their lives, and, quite possibly, humanity.

Science-fiction is nowhere near the top of my list of favorite film genres. Don’t get me wrong, I do like them—but if I had to pick a range of 4-5 types of movies to watch on a Friday night, science-fiction would not be one of them. But Arrival is peak alien sci-fi…so how can it rank so high on this list? The answer is simple: Denis Villeneuve. Although I still have not seen Villeneuve’s Maelstrom (the winner of the International Federation of Film Critics Award at the Berlin Film Festival) or Incendies (the Oscar-nominated foreign language film), I still view the French-Canadian filmmaker to be one of the best in the business—this is because of Prisoners and Sicario. While in Prisoners Villeneuve crafted a film that was emotionally complex and disturbing at times, yet all the while encapsulating, he truly blew me away with last year’s Sicario, a tightly wound drug cartel thriller that put Villeneuve’s brazen filmmaking on full display for the world to see. Needless to say, his involvement with Arrival makes it a no-brainer for me to be so interested!

In Prisoners, Villeneuve truly directed his balls off in getting the most from his actors (Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, and Terrence Howard absolutely killed it), and in Sicario, the very same was true (Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro delivered unbelievably outstanding performances). Here, I am anxious to see what Villeneuve does with another stellar cast. Amy Adams is one of my favorite actresses (and by far one of the best in the business), Jeremy Renner always does a great job, and Forest Whitaker is a veteran in the game who still treats every performance as if it is his last. The talent is there from both an acting and directorial standpoint—I am confident that the two will intersect beautifully and Arrival will meet all of its undeniably high expectations. Arrival is set for a theatrical release on November 11, 2016.

Director: Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners)

Starring: Amy Adams (Nocturnal Animals, Big Eyes), Jeremy Renner (Captain America: Civil War, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), and Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Southpaw)

Top 15 Films of 2014, No. 1 – Whiplash

Whiplash - BP

Whiplash is a dramatic film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It follows Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller), an ambitious jazz drummer who studies at the fictional Shaffer Conservatory in New York, the most prestigious music school in the nation. Tormented by the sadistic/authoritarian Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons)—the school’s studio band instructor—Andrew must invest all of his time into his craft in order to attain his dream: becoming the best jazz drummer of all time.

Whiplash9Locke was my surefire choice for the best film of the entire year for the better part of 2014, but after I first saw Whiplash, all of that changed radically. My all-time favorite film is Inglourious Basterds, which came out in 2009, but here is the list of my favorite movie from each of the years since Tarantino’s Nazi-killer was released: The King’s Speech (2010), Drive (2011), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and 12 Years A Slave (2013). In the past five years since the release of Inglourious Basterds, the single greatest movie I have seen is Whiplash. Wow, that is some serious adoration for a film, you might say. Yeah, it really is—but it is deserved. Not only is it far more superior to any other film released in the past five years, but also it does so much more with a smaller budget. My other favorite films that I mentioned (from 2010-2013) had budgets of at least $15 million, with an average budget of $18.25 million—Whiplash made its unforgettable mark on a budget of just $3 million. It is brilliantly written, daringly directed, and meticulously acted—these qualities cause Whiplash to soar to the top of cinema.

Whiplash10Writer/director Damien Chazelle has penned an inspired screenplay, and I mean “inspired” in every sense of the word. The basis for Chazelle’s story is his own personal experiences in the Princeton High School Studio Band. The man writes what he knows, and what he knows makes for some serious drama. His full-length screenplay is actually adapted from his own 15-page script for a short film of the same name. It did not feature Miles Teller, but it did feature J.K. Simmons as Fletcher. After the short film received critical acclaim at its screening at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, a group of producers signed on to turn it into a full-length picture. Fast forward one year to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Whiplash was screened and won rave reviews, eventually taking home the two biggest prizes for dramatic submissions (U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award). Chazelle’s journey with his story has been a long time coming, and the success has been rightfully tremendous. Whiplash5If it were not for Chazelle’s courage to do something with his original screenplay, we may never have gotten to see this amazing film. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he elaborated on his decision to pursue this story: “This was the most personal thing I’d ever written, and I put it in a drawer for a while [.] I was almost embarrassed to show it because it seemed like exposing a part of myself that I didn’t really want exposed.” Thankfully the 30-year-old filmmaker decided to uncover this fascinating story, and we as viewers are incredibly lucky for his decision.

Whiplash2I now move to discuss the unique aspects of the film’s music. Chazelle effectively utilizes the jazz-band compositions as an actual plot device. I am not usually a fan of pure jazz music, but the ways in which Chazelle employs the musical pieces made the film so much more enthralling, meaning I grew to enjoy the jazz tunes. The film centers on the jazz band, and Whiplash’s score is subsequently the actual pieces of music that the band plays during practices and shows. This plot device ensures the story still flows smoothly without seeming dull or boring, but it also prevents some radical, orchestral arrangement from playing in the background (thus taking away from the substance of the script). It is a subtle technique, but this story cannot be told any other way—Chazelle’s orchestrates (I am all about the puns this Oscar season) this marvelously.

The most significant assistance the film gets on its storied journey from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival’s short-film screening to Oscar night is the acting. Miles Teller (one of the best rising stars from the past few years—the guy really deserves more outward acclaim) is extraordinary and J.K. Simmons is even better!

Whiplash11As I mentioned in my post about the Best Supporting Actor category (where I gave Simmons the highest praise of any actor in any film from 2014), Terence Fletcher is an absolute bully, and I never would have thought J.K. Simmons would be the guy to play a role like this. Although he is great in his supporting roles in other films (such as Juno and Contraband), he has established himself as the funny Farmers Insurance commercial pitchman. Simmons, in his role in Whiplash as the despotic Fletcher, shocked me beyond measure. Fletcher is one of the most despicable assholes in film history, and Simmons (the usual jokester) executes this performance flawlessly. FLAWLESSLY! Two particular scenes delineate Fletcher’s ominous nature incredibly well. In one, he tests out his drummers on a particular portion of a musical piece. Within half-seconds of them beginning to play, he gives them a strict signal to “cut them off.” He again, time after time, tells them to begin, only to cut them off more severely. Fletcher is a staunch perfectionist, and this scene is amazingly telling regarding this precise characteristic. Whiplash7In another scene, he stops the band and points out that someone is playing incorrectly. He asks the band member to identify himself. Someone finally comes clean to his misstep: a trombone player. Fletcher then unleashes one of the most aggressive personal attacks that you will ever witness. The trombone player begins to weep, and Fletcher dismisses him from the band. Once the kid leaves the room, Fletcher blatantly points out that the mistake was not actually made by the band member that came clean—it was actually someone else, who Fletcher then tells to step it up. The fact that Fletcher knew the entire time which member of his band was truly behind the mistake reveals so much about him as a person: he has a gifted ear for his music, and he will stop at nothing to weed out any weak link in his band (e.g., the trombone player who admitted to a fault he really did not commit out of fear). Simmons displays this almost obsessive-compulsive feature of Fletcher’s nature with brutal honesty, and his raw, terrorizing performance is one for the ages.

Whiplash3Simmons is obviously garnering the most attention of anyone involved with Whiplash (and rightfully so), but Miles Teller additionally offered up a stellar performance as the object of Fletcher’s torment. Whiplash is the fifth movie of Teller’s that I have seen, and it is the third to make me believe that he is quite possibly the most talented star under the age of 30 in Hollywood. In Rabbit Hole (2010; an unbelievably depressing film), I saw Teller for the first time in a supporting role that stuck out as the premier highlight in a movie in which Nicole Kidman delivered one of the most amazing performances of her career. He was also emotionally captivating as Sutter Keely in The Spectacular Now (2013), and it was this performance that made me believe in Teller as a dramatic actor—his portrayal of Andrew in Whiplash convinced me—as to his place amongst the great rising stars in the industry—beyond a reasonable doubt. Whiplash4The phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” is manifested to its truest meaning via Teller’s performance, and the “blood” portion plays a central role in the film. Andrew sweats profusely as he practices and plays due to the intense musical compositions—so what? He pours tears over the hardships that come his way in his quest for greatness—again, what of it? As he performs on the drums for long periods of time in the most overwhelming fashion, his hands begin to bleed uncontrollably, resulting in his drum and drumsticks to be covered in a hazy red—this is where the true nature of Andrew is expounded upon the greatest as he literally gives part of his life for his craft. Teller’s performance in these scenes is nothing short of spellbinding.

Whiplash12This is by far the longest I have ever written in a single post about a film, but I faithfully believe in every single word. Whiplash is a modern masterpiece. When it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray just two days after the Oscars, it will be expeditiously added to my personal film collection. It is a movie that I will not soon forget—Damien Chazelle, J.K Simmons, and Miles Teller have made a lasting imprint on my mind with this beautiful work of cinema. It is a character study of two men, one of which is not even the main character (i.e., someone we do not spend each frame with: Fletcher), and the story of the clash between these two jazz heavyweights is mesmerizing. In a year with many amazing movies, Whiplash stood apart—it is the best! Whiplash is rated R for strong language including some sexual references.

Whiplash trailer:

Academy Award nominations for Whiplash:

Best Picture (Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, and David Lancaster, producers)

Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons)

Best Film Editing (Tom Cross)

Best Sound Mixing (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, and Thomas Curley)

Best Adapted Screenplay (Damien Chazelle)

Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of 2014:

  1. Locke
  2. Nightcrawler
  3. Starred Up
  4. The Theory of Everything
  5. Boyhood
  6. Blue Ruin
  7. American Sniper
  8. Guardians of the Galaxy
  9. Birdman
  10. Fury
  11. Calvary
  12. Interstellar
  13. Gone Girl
  14. The Lego Movie

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees

This year (just like last year), nearly every single writer nominated in this category will be attending the Academy Awards for the very first time. In fact, the only writer in this year’s group that has ever been nominated before is Paul Thomas Anderson (he has received three previous writing nominations), nominated this year for Inherent Vice. The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Adapted Screenplay:

Damien ChazelleWINNER: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Damien Chazelle (also the director of Whiplash) adapted this screenplay from his screenplay for a short film of the same name. Chazelle has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)

Anthony McCartenAnthony McCarten adapted this screenplay from Jane Wilde Hawking’s book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. McCarten has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Jason Hall (American Sniper)

Jason HallJason Hall adapted this screenplay from the autobiography American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, co-written by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwan, and Jim DeFelice. Hall has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)

Graham MooreGraham Moore adapted this screenplay from Andrew Hodges’s book Alan Turing: The Enigma. Moore has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)

PTAPaul Thomas Anderson adapted this screenplay from Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name. Anderson has previously been nominated for three Academy Awards in writing categories: Best Original Screenplay (Boogie Nights and Magnolia) and Best Adapted Screenplay (There Will Be Blood).