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Golden Cages 2020: Best Screenplay

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2020 is finally over but before we send it off to the trash heap it deserves to be in, it’s time for the third annual Golden Cages, Flixist’s extremely coveted prize! Each year the Flixist staff gets together to vote on the best and worst films of the year and gives you lovely readers our true and honest thoughts. Plus since there are no other awards shows this winter (suck it Academy!) we’re now the de facto voice of truth in the film industry. So read on dear viewer and see which films win our lovely little award!

There is no more doubt in anyone’s mind that Pete Docter knows how to write a screenplay. The man is a magician with words and unpacking the human condition in a manner that makes it easily understandable by all. Soul is the latest example of this skill as his screenplay, written alongside Mike Jones and Kemp Powers, is the thing of magic, somehow unraveling an idea as complex as the human soul in the manner of 100 minutes. Entire scholarly studies are dedicated to this stuff and he delivers a pitch-perfect screenplay about it that leaves you feeling like… well, like a Pete Docter film leaves you feeling.

The writing in Soul can, at first, seem a bit high-level but it’s full of the same power and emotion that the slightly superior Inside Out had. The film sours when it is playing around with the afterlife (and the beforelife), with comedic prowess that overlays levels of meaning. Its deep dive into passion and how we find it and what it means is incredibly insightful and the moments when Joe is drifting off into jazz music or when 22 discovers why life is worth living are simply impeccably executed.

To be honest, the film can struggle a bit when it’s in full body-swap mode but that also just reaffirms how well it is executed to deliver its message. The movie can play both to the child audience who wants to see the funny cat talking and the adults who are sobbing their eyes out, getting sucker-punched deep in the feels by emotions that most adult movies can’t even unpack. It is that duality — the fun and philosophical — that makes Soul‘s screenplay so good and earns it this year’s Golden Cage.

Now, if you excuse me I have to discover the true meaning of life before the next Docter film comes out so I can not be a sobbing mess at the end of that one.

Matthew Razak
Matthew Razak is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flixist. He has worked as a critic for more than a decade, reviewing and talking about movies, TV shows, and videogames. He will talk your ear off about James Bond movies, Doctor Who, Zelda, and Star Trek.