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Wednesday, July 23, 2014



Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Original Screenplay

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should feel honored to just be nominated. Today we look at Best Original Screenplay, which is one of the more competitive categories this year.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for writing, not other categories. For writing teams they are the combined totals, with each film counting as one nomination regardless of how many members were part of the previous team.)

Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker
Tomatometer Score: 97% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: WGA
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: First Screenplay
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: First Screenplay
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 117 (2nd)
Notes: This film has amazing reviews, two previous major nominations, and even a win at the WGAs. (It lost to Up in the Air at the Golden Globes, which is in the Adapted Screenplay category at the Oscars.) It has a lot going for it. My only real concern is Mark Boal's previous screenwriting experience: none. This shouldn't be an issue, but the Oscar voters are only human and some might be more willing to vote for a more established screenwriter.

Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for The Messenger
Tomatometer Score: 90% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 3 (5th)
Notes: There are five films nominated in this category and of those five, four of them can be considered serious contenders. This is the odd man out. That's not to say it's not a great movie: it has earned 90% positive reviews, after all. However, it has only earned nominations for its script at the Independent Spirit Awards, which is the least useful predictor for the Oscar awards. Every other film on this list has either multiple nominations, previous wins, or screenwriters with a longer history in the Oscars. This is also the smallest film in terms of box office performance. Which makes it a serious underdog.

Joel and Ethan Coen for A Serious Man
Tomatometer Score: 87% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: Two Independent Spirit Awards, Four WGAs, Three Golden Globes, and Three Oscars
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Awards, Two WGAs, One Golden Globe, and Two Oscars
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 13 (4rth)
Notes: The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen. As you can see above, they have a long history in winning awards. However, this is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, winning tends to beget winning. On the other hand, this is considered one of the weaker of their recent films. In terms of critical appeal, it's not nearly as good as No Country for Old Men, while its box office was the lowest for the pair since The Man Who Wasn't There. You can never exactly count these two out, but it would be considered an upset if they won.

Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy, and Bob Peterson for Up
Tomatometer Score: 98% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award, Two WGAs, and Three Oscars
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 19 (3rd)
Notes: This is the best film in this category, but the chances of it winning are very, very slim. It's an animated film and Awards Season voters are very hesitant to give awards to these movies, outside of Best Feature-Length Animated Film. Pixar has earned three Oscar nominations so far, but has yet to win. (The other nominations and the single win are for Thomas McCarthy's live-action films.) I would love them to break the streak this year, but I don't think that's going to happen. However, with a 98% positive Tomatometer Score, you can't exactly call them an underdog either.

Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds
Tomatometer Score: 89% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globes
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 135 (1rst)
Notes: The biggest hit of Quentin Tarantino's career. This shouldn't be a factor, but it could be. You can't vote for a movie if you haven't seen it, so the bigger the box office, the more likely that the movie will have been seen by more Oscar voters. Additionally, the bigger the box office, the more willing the studio will be to spend money promoting the movie. Finally, while the film has some excellent performances, one could argue that it's the script that is the biggest single factor for its success. That said, I don't think it is the favorite to win, but it is likely The Hurt Locker's biggest competition.

Conclusion: A very competitive category, with four of the five films that could win. While Up deserves to win the most, The Hurt Locker is the most likely to win.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2010-03-04

Movies 
 The Hurt Locker
 The Messenger
 A Serious Man
 Drag Me To Hell
 Inglourious Basterds