Bob Verini's Oscar Wrap-Up

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Preemptive favorites Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) walked off with their coveted Academy Awards® last night while providing two of the ceremony's classier acceptances.

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Clearly hoping that his script and film will carry the torch of pride for future generations, Black spoke of Harvey Milk's inspirational story from the point of view of a young gay man growing up in a Mormon household. And Beaufoy praised the people of Mumbai with whom he spent many happy, stimulating hours during his research phase (which he describes in the January/February issue of Script).

Photo: Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S

These were essentially the same messages both scribes have been endlessly taking around town and in the media, and purveying at other award ceremonies, in the course of the long (very long; far too long) Oscar® roll-up period.

But their emotional delivery last night was a thing apart, belying the now-familiar themes. The tears were real. For these two accomplished writers, at least, the Academy Award remains at the pinnacle of motion picture recognition.

Both scripts were judged as "even-money" (read: sure-thing) nominees in Script's January/February Oscar Preview article, and they were unquestionably the ones to beat all along. (We even said that Milk was "a good bet to win, too.")

Each demonstrated a proficiency of craft that makes a screenplay standout from the pack: Black, for processing so much research (much of it in the first-person) into a narrative of extraordinary suspense and immediacy; Beaufoy, for mastering a multi-level, fractured-time structure that never leaves the audience either confused or too far ahead.