- Thank You for Smoking for Best Adapted Screenplay
Thank You For Smoking (2005) is Jason Reitman’s directorial debut. Also written by Reitman, it was based on the on the 1994 satirical novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. The story centers on Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart), a smooth-talking tobacco lobbyist and divorced father of a 12-year-old, with whom he tries to build a better relationship. The film was generally critically and commercially successful, though it failed to receive the awards love Reitman’s subsequent films did. This mean no love for Smoking‘s awesome, darkly witty screenplay which got me grinning like a Cheshire cat through the whole running time.
The script features sharply biting humour spit out by all of its characters and a well-laid-out satire on the glamorization of unhealthy products and how easy it can be to sway the public’s opinion with some great, convincing arguments, charisma and good commercial strategies. A good example is the opening scene, where Naylor appears on a talk show with a kid who’s dying of cancer and spins it so the anti-smoking people are the bad guys and he’s the good guy, thus the tobacco industry is also the “good guy” who just wants the boy “alive and smoking”. It’s whacked out. Another example of the simplicity of swaying public opinion and the power of media outlets is the character of Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes), who publishes information given to her by Naylor without his approval after beginning a sexual relationship with him, tarnishing his reputation and swaying the popular opinion of him, only to have her reputation tarnished by him later on as he turns her own actions against her, swaying the popular opinion of her.
It features some pretty interesting concepts, such as the ethical questions that come (or don’t) with speaking on behalf of unhealthy products. In a way, you could see it’s almost a wink-wink, sardonic ode to heavy spin tactics and the power of well-used words. The scenes between Naylor and his son are positively refreshing: they’re interesting, well-written, they form the emotional center of the story, and are a perfect example of the very engaging, rich dialogue in the film. Still, what makes Thank You For Smoking‘s story such a winning one is its central character. Naylor is one of the best-written morally grey protagonists of recent times. He’s the best at what he does, even though what he does may not come off as really nice. And he knows it, and he likes it. Also, his narration is the best since Christina Ricci’s character’s in The Opposite of Sex (1998). It’s articulate, funny, intelligent, acerbic, quick-witted, effective and perpetually grin-inducing. It perfectly adds to the tone of the film and Eckhart delivers it in a positively charismatic, slick, self-assured manner. His narrating is just the best way to open and end the film. It’s pretty great. It’s lovely, lovely, lovely. Wow.