" On the surface, the behind-the-scenes intrigues of a corporate law firm hardly seem cinematic enough to justify a screenplay. But when "Michael Clayton" writer-director Tony Gilroy started digging around while researching 1997's "The Devil's Advocate," he was hooked.
"You have these rooms where 30 or 40 people show up and work all night long, typing all the paperwork; and (outside the office) they are sculptors and dancers and actors," he recalls. "I hadn't seen this before. And you are always looking for stuff you haven't seen before -- that is unique and familiar at the same time."
Blending the unique and the familiar is a challenge for any writer, but many writers in contention for this year's original screenplay Oscar have stretched the boundaries of what audiences will accept, sometimes challenging them to find the familiar in the most unfamiliar things of all. "