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Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Original Screenplay

February 6th, 2011

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 just feel honored to be nominated. Today we look at Best Original Screenplay, which is not only one of the more competitive categories this year, it is also one of the harder ones to predict due to complications with other awards.

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

Best Original Screenplay

Mike Leigh for Another Year
Tomatometer Score: 92% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: One WGA and Four Oscars
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Mike Leigh has been nominated for a writing Oscar four times. He has yet to win. This is probably the biggest factor that suggests this film could win this award. On the other hand, it doesn't have the best reviews among this group, nor has it had a lot of success during Awards Season up to this point. Add in its struggles at the box office, and I don't think enough voters will have seen the film for it to win. If it did win, it likely wouldn't be the biggest upset of Oscar night, but it would still be a surprise.

Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington for The Fighter
Tomatometer Score: 90% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriters' Previous Major Nominations: None
Screenwriters' Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: The Fighter is practically guaranteed to win an Oscar. Unfortunately for the screenwriters, that Oscar is for Best Supporting Actor. So far the film has not won any major awards for its screenplay, while this is the first film written by any of the four screenwriters to earn a major nomination. There's just not a strong track record, and that doesn't bode well come Oscar night.

Christopher Nolan for Inception
Tomatometer Score: 86% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA and Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: WGA
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award, One WGA, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award
Notes: One of two films that one could argue is the favorite to win Best Original Screenplay. It did win the WGA award, while the film that beat it at the Golden Globes is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, so it's not the competition here. On the other hand, it's reviews are the weakest of the five films, while its main competition was disqualified at the WGAs. It could go either way.

Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for The Kids are All Right
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Award, WGA, and Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (One pending)
Screenwriters' Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award
Screenwriters' Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: I would argue this is the biggest surprise on this list. That's not to say the film doesn't deserve all the accolades it is earning, it's just that is it a smaller film, and a comedy, which is not a genre that normally finds Awards Season success. Meanwhile, the screenwriters don't have a track record of Awards Season success, unlike Mike Leigh who has been nominated so many times that it is no longer surprising, regardless of the circumstances. I'm happy it was nominated, I'm just a little surprised. I would be more than a little surprised if it won.

David Seidler for The King's Speech
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriters' Previous Major Nominations: None
Screenwriters' Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Looking at the film's track record so far, one would think it had no shot at winning this award. After all, it missed out on the Golden Globe award, while it wasn't even nominated for a WGA. However, the winner of the Golden Globe is competing in the Best Adapted Screenplay category and this film was disqualified for a WGA. So while it hasn't won a major award for its screenplay, that will not hurt its chances on Oscar night. Also, there's a good chance that The King's Speech will be the big winner on Oscar night and that this wave will help it win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Lead Actor, and Best Original Screenplay.

Conclusion: It's a coin toss between The King's Speech and Inception. The favorite varies depending on who you ask and while I think the former will win, if the latter won it wouldn't really be an upset.


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Filed under: Inception, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, Another Year, The King’s Speech