Friday, February 8, 2008

Juno and the Payoff

Will Diablo Cody, the pseudonymous first-time screenwriter whose name is often found to the right of “former stripper,” win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Juno — or has Cody-mania peaked? Juno, the teen pregnancy comedy, has fans and detractors in equal measure. Middle America continues to kvell over the cuteness of the movie’s teen characters, who talk on hamburger phones and speak in the peculiar, faux-hip argot (“that’s one doodle that can’t be undiddled, homeskillet”; “honest to blog”) that is Cody’s trademark — while others are completely repelled by it.

I do believe the Academy will go for Juno, which fits the current ideals of “quirky” and “independent," though it isn't really an independent but a small studio production (Fox Searchilight). It is this year's "little film that could," a modestly budgeted film (around $7 million) that has grossed at least 15 times that amount in North America. Still, it's hardly of the caliber one associates with Academy Award nominees.

The closest Oscar contender is said to be Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton, though I hardly think so. My own choice is Tamara Jenkins for The Savages. But the ubiquitous Cody, with her tattoos, stripper past and tassels-to-riches success (an agent found her writings about stripping while surfing for porn), is the better Hollywood story.

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