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   Book Review
   And the Best Screenplay Goes
   Author: Dr. Linda Seger
   Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
   Pages: 284 pages
   Topic: Screenwriting

   MSRP: $26.95

   Special Pricing:  Click Here
   Website: Michael Wiese Productions
   Expected Release: Available Now
   ISBN No.: 9781932907384
   Review Date: March 1 2008
   Reviewed By: Monika DeLeeuw-Taylor
Final Score:

Everyone wants to be a writer. Few people ask for more than an autograph or photo from actors, directors, or producers; but successful writers are often approached with the standard line, “You know, I have a good idea for a screenplay/novel/play etc.” The truly ironic thing is that the writer is often one of the least-respected individuals in show business – as evidenced by the recently concluded Hollywood writers’ strike.

Given the chance, most film enthusiasts would rather get an Oscar award for writing a screenplay, as opposed to getting an Oscar for acting or even directing. For those in that category, And the Best Screenplay Goes To… could be a possible resource. Author Dr. Linda Seger picked three favorite films that had won the Best Screenplay Oscar, interviewed the writer(s) and director(s) involved, and then analyzed their creation, the changes that the screenplay went through, and the finished film.

The three films selected for this book were Sideways (2004), Shakespeare in Love (1998), and Crash (2004). For any reader who may not have seen one or any of these movies, the book might be a bit confusing, since the author discusses the many versions that the screenplay went through while becoming a movie. This may get a little confusing if one is unfamiliar with the films being discussed. On the plus side, however, it gives one a good background on these three movies, and will probably do a lot for convincing a reader to watch them.

Depth of Information
At first, I was surprised that the author had only chosen to review three Oscar-winning screenplays, but later pleasantly discovered that Ms. Seger had gone into quite a lot of detail in her analysis of them. She includes dialogue from the actual screenplay, detailed story beats (i.e. first act, second act, etc), and of course the interviews. The text of the actual interview is included – a good choice, as it’s always beneficial to hear directly from the artists themselves – but, I also get the sense that the interviews were much more extensive and instrumental in adding all the details and bits of behind-the-scenes knowledge to the rest of the book.

My one complaint, however, is that the three films in question are chosen from two different and very recent years. Filmmaking has changed a lot since its early years, and a book that studies three movies from different decades would make a far more interesting comparison, than those made so close together. While I recognize the impossibility in getting an interview with the screenwriter of, say, Citizen Kane, there are still an awful lot of classics whose screenwriters are still available for comment.

Interest Level
I will confess, I have not seen Sideways, Crash, or – dare I say it – even Shakespeare in Love (particularly embarrassing since I adore Shakespeare, but I digress). The point is I thought this would make the review much more difficult. However, there was so much detail included for each movie that I was still able to follow along, even with minimal prior knowledge. In fact, after having read about each film, I am certainly more interested in watching all three – most especially Shakespeare in Love.

This book is obviously best suited to the aspiring screenwriter, but as the author interviewed the directors, as well, there could be a few tidbits that a director could pick up. There is also quite a lot of information contained on each film that might require a couple of readings to absorb everything. However, I cannot see it as the kind of book that one would constantly be opening up to re-read.

Value vs. Cost
This book is rather thick, and the information extensive, but the price still strikes me as a bit high. However, it required several years of study and analysis, before the book was written, and considering the time and effort put into it, I can understand why it would be a bit pricey. The book is an interesting read; sort of an academic treaty of three Oscar-winning screenplays, but it will not necessarily give you concrete tips on how to write one yourself.

An aficionado of any of the three films reviewed would undoubtedly find it an interesting read. In addition, if a screenwriter was attempting to write a buddy/travel movie like Sideways, a historical drama like Shakespeare, or a racially charged film with intricately interwoven plotlines, like Crash, they might find the in-depth analyses useful.

Overall Comment
Author Dr. Linda Seger is thorough. Each account of the three films this book reviews contains both detailed and interesting information that the perspective screenwriter could find quite useful. While it may not give a step-by-step guide on how to write the next Oscar-winning screenplay, the in-depth discussion of Sideways, Shakespeare in Love and Crash certainly helps point one in the right direction.

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
Overall Score           
The author of half a dozen screen plays, two novels, and a proficient camera-woman in her own right, Monika DeLeeuw-Taylor is Microfilmmaker's lead writing analyst and one of our top film reviewers. When she's not writing a critique for Microfilmmaker, she's writing screenplays for Viking Productions.

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