Inside Out: Oscar for originality?

Sometimes the smallest niggles can bug one the most. So it was when I saw an article on Slate that wanted to award Inside Out the discontinued Oscar for Best Original Story.

The Best Original Story Oscar existed between 1928 and 1956 to honor the writers who came up with the idea or treatment for a film but may or may not have actually written the script. This year’s award goes to Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen for Inside Out, which featured one of the most original narratives in recent memory.

When I first heard about Inside Out I was quite happy that there was an original story. It seems that these days nearly everything is a sequel, a reboot or an adaptation. Comic book adaptations are the best example right now but just look at the Best Picture nominations for the Oscars.

The Revenant: Based on a book based on real events.

The Big Short: Based on a book about real events.

Bridge of Spies: Based on real events.

The Martian: Based on a book.

Room: Based on a book.

Spotlight: Based on real events.

Brooklyn: Based on a book.

Mad Max: Fury Road: Sequel.

There isn’t a single original story there! At best, it’s adapting something that happened in real life into a movie.But, most of them are based off of books.

In any case, when I was reading, I couldn’t help but remember that Inside Out is actually very similar to a 2013 animated short entitled Brain Divided, with the short’s two characters having the same colour scheme as two characters from Inside Out. Although, to be fair, red and blue are not unlikely to show up as opposites.

But, as Wikipedia and comments on that short point out, production on Inside Out starting in 2009, four years before Brain Divided. What it definitely did not start before was The Numskulls, a comic strip that originally ran from 1962 until 1969. But apparently, it’s been rebooted and is still ongoing.


So, Inside Out is certainly not completely original, but I guess we could draw a distinction between conceptual originality and narrative originality. The Slate article did specify narrative originality, in which case Inside Out is good. At least I assume so, I want to watch it but I haven’t had the opportunity yet. Conceptually, it’s not original but compared to many other films that get attention, it’s so far in the distance that they can’t even see its dust.


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