Crank up that steel drum cover of 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P”! “Anatomy of a Fall” has scored the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Director Justine Triet and her husband and co-writer Arthur Harari took the stage at the Dolby Theater on March 10 to accept the trophy.

In winning the award, Triet and Harari beat out several other Best Picture nominees to claim the top prize. Also nominated in the category were David Hemingson for “The Holdovers,” Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer for “Maestro,” and Celine Song for “Past Lives.” The sole non-Best Picture nominee recognized in the category was “May December,” which received its sole Oscar nomination for Samy Burch’s script.

The Original Screenplay Oscar is the latest award that Triet’s courtroom drama received during the past Awards season. Triet and Harari won in the same category at the British Academy Film Awards, the Golden Globes, and the French César Awards. The screenplay nomination was one of five nominations that “Anatomy of a Fall” received at the Academy Awards, which also included Best Picture, Best Director for Triet, Best Actress for lead star Sandra Hüller, and Best Editing for Laurent Sénéchal. Despite its award success, the film — which is roughly 50 percent in English and French — did not compete for the International Feature Film Award, after France’s Oscar committee opted to submit Trần Anh Hùng’s “The Taste of Things” in a controversial decision. The romantic cooking drama ultimately failed to make the final five nominees.

Set in the French prefecture of Grenoble, “Anatomy of a Fall” stars Hüller as Sandra Voyter, an acclaimed and respected German novelist who lives in an isolated mountain area with her husband, a fellow writer, and their visually impaired son. After her husband mysteriously dies after an apparent fall from the house’s attic while listening to a steel drum instrumental of “P.I.M.P” by 50 Cent, Sandra is charged with his murder. In court, she faces questions about her character as a wife and partner, and is forced to dig into the ugly secrets of her marriage. Swann Arlaud, Milo Machado-Graner, Antoine Reinartz, and Samuel Theis also star in the film, which features a scene-stealing supporting role from Messi the dog as Snoop.

“Anatomy of a Fall” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, where it was greeted with immediate critical acclaim. Triet won the Palme d’Or, the festival’s highest honor, becoming the third woman to win the honor after Julie Ducournau and Jane Campion; Messi won the Palm Dog Award. Writing out of the festival for IndieWire, critic Ben Croll gave the film an “A-” and wrote that “‘Anatomy of a Fall’ is never really about the trial, and doesn’t only explore the chasm between empiricism and emotion; at its searing best, the film tracks family destruction with cold precision.”

Triet’s Palme d’Or win brought the director to international prominence. The French filmmaker released her first feature, “Age of Panic” in 2013. Her other films include “In Bed With Victoria” from 2016 and “Sibyl” in 2019, the latter of which featured Hüller in a supporting role. For “Age of Panic,” she received a nomination for Best First Feature at France’s César Awards. For “In Bed With Victoria,” she was nominated for Best Film and Best Original Screenplay.

In an interview with IndieWire, Triet spoke about the three-year process to getting the film from the early draft pages to Cannes.

“When we started working together,” she said about working with Harari, “we didn’t realize that it would be a three-year affair and that he would be with me all the way to the editing room. I originally asked him to be there for two months and wanting him to stay on.

“At the time, we had a nine-month-old and a 10-year-old,” she conitinued. “And so the days were very intense and completely regimented according to this schedule of when the baby slept or napped for three hours in the morning and a few hours in the afternoon. So we had these little hours where we would work very intensely and then rotate the childcare in between them.”

“Anatomy of a Fall” intentionally keeps Sandra’s innocence slightly ambiguous for the viewer. Speaking about this choice, Triet said that the original story plan was to “delve into the notion of the couple and the relationship,” she said. “But to do so in a way that was roundabout because the first narrative voice that we have is the voice of others or the tribunal so that Sandra’s character herself is only ever expressing herself in a redacted or corrective way. And so it was to enter her mind, but in this way through the decision of the trial and the exterior eye. In a certain way everyone speaks. She’s dispossessed of her narrative. And she said, ‘OK, it’s my story.’ But she always has to rectify.”

You don’t know, you don’t know,” she continued. “Because you are in the same place as Daniel [the couple’s blind son, Milo Machado-Graner] and the jury. You don’t know.”

Leave a comment