Lighter on the dialogue than most of these other nominees, the screenplay for All Quiet on the Western Front (co-written by director Edward Berger, writer Ian Stokell and professional athlete Lesley Paterson, and adapted from the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque) is violent, upsetting, and never pulls its punches in the brutal depiction of war at its worst. The characters are flawed, but personable, and we care about them despite their allegiances to the “wrong side” of the First World War — after all, it wasn’t the fault of the soldiers, but the people in command, some of whom are spotlighted in the occasional cutaway, which transforms the film into a political drama for incremental periods of twenty-odd minutes.
My thoughts on remaking Kurosawa’s Ikiru aside, there are three things I loved about the film: the cinematography, Bill Nighy’s performance, and the dialogue. The way the story is structured leaves a lot to be desired, but Kazuo Ishiguro’s screenplay is very well-written and condenses Kurosawa’s two-and-a-half-hour drama into a comparatively brief 102 minutes.
What Will Win: Women Talking