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Oscar Contest - Category Highlight - Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay

February 15th, 2008

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 will look at Best Writing - Original Screenplay and Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for writing and not other categories.)

Best Writing - Original Screenplay

Brad Bird for Ratatouille
Tomatometer Score: 96% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: 1 Oscar
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Ratatouille's is an amazing movie, I don't think anyone is going to deny that. However, it is also an animated movie, and it is very rare for animated movies to be nominated for major awards, and ever rarer for them to win. That said, this is not as deep of a category as Adapted Screenplay, and Brad Bird is no less likely to win this one as the average nominee here.

Diablo Cody for Juno
Tomatometer Score: 93% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards, Golden Globe, and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: WGA
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: First Screenplay
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: First Screenplay
Notes: On the one hand, this is one of the best films of the year and has been nominated for numerous awards winning several. On the other hand, the nominee is named Diablo and she used to be a stripper, and there's a large contingent of Oscar voters who tend to be on the conservative side. Additionally, she is a first time screenwriter, and as I've stated in the past, Oscar voters tend to reward experience and punish newcomers. I think it would be grossly unfair to not give her the Oscar, especially for those reasons, but life is unfair and I don't think she's a favorite.

Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton
Tomatometer Score: 90% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes:This film has a strong script, but it might be looked at as an Actor's Movie. In fact, it has earned three acting nominations, the most this year. In fact, no other film earned more than one nomination. The film also earned nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Score, making it arguably the big player for nominations. However, it isn't the favorite to win any of them. Ironically, this could help it win this category, as voters will want to give it at least one win for the night and all the other categories it would be such a long shot. Here or Best Original Score.

Tamara Jenkins for The Savages
Tomatometer Score: 90% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: 1 Independent Spirit Awards
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: You can't vote for a movie if you haven't seen it. This is a major problem for The Savages as it has the lowest box office out of the five nominees. (Although it should top Lars and the Real Girl shortly.) Anything under $20 million is generally not enough for sufficient Oscar voters to have seen the movie either in theaters or for the studio to spend the money to distribute enough screeners to win. Sad, but true.

Nancy Oliver for Lars and the Real Girl
Tomatometer Score: 79% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: First Screenplay
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: First Screenplay
Notes: Most films would kill for 79% positive. However, that's very low for an Oscar nominee. Also, most limited releases would kill for a box office total north of $5 million. However, that's also very low for an Oscar nominee. There are a fatal combination leaving the film with almost no shot at an Oscar, but the nomination should help its prospects on the home market.

Conclusion: Going by my analysis, I've eliminated every film from winning the Oscar. This is impossible, of course, and some film will win. Personally, I think Diablo Cody deserves to win for Juno; however, it is more likely that Tony Gilroy will win Michael Clayton's only Oscar of the night.

Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay

Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood
Tomatometer Score: 91% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: Two previous Oscar nominations and two previous WGA nominations
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Paul Thomas Anderson previously earned Oscar nominations for the screenplay to Magnolia and Boogie Nights, but lost out both times. Sadly, it seems unlikely that this will be his year as No Country for Old Men has cleaned up in this category, and practically every category it has been nominated in.

Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Tomatometer Score: 94% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globes and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globes and WGA
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: Two Oscars, two Golden Globes, two Independent Spirit Awards, and two WGA
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar, one Golden Globe, two Independent Spirit Awards, and one WGA
Notes: Like I said again, it seems like No Country for Old Men's year. It has won both screenwriting awards it was up for, and it would be a shock if it didn't complete the hat trick next Sunday.

Christopher Hampton for Atonement
Tomatometer Score: 82% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: One Oscar and one WGA.
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar
Notes: This is the weakest reviewed film of the group and Christopher Hampton has previous won an Oscar for his script for Dangerous Liaisons. Had it won more previous awards, I would have been a little more bullish about its chances, but as it is, it is a long shot to take home the trophy.

Ronald Harwood for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Tomatometer Score: 93% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Awards, and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: Two Oscars and Golden Globe
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Oscar
Notes: Ronald Harwood won an Oscar for The Pianist five years ago after picking up his first nomination for The Dresser nearly 25 years ago. His work on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has earned him three previous nominations, but he has been held without a win so far, and that is likely to continue next weekend first with the Independent Spirit Awards and then with the Oscars.

Sarah Polley for Away from Her
Tomatometer Score: 95% positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: First screenplay
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: First screenplay
Notes: Sarah Polley's first screenplay for a feature-length film and she earned an Oscar nomination. That's impressive. It's also the only major award this film earned for writing, which means it is an underdog for winning this award. Still, I expect more scripts, more movies and more awards in the future.

Conclusion: This category is not as competitive as Best Original Screenplay above with almost all indicators suggesting the Coen Brothers will win for No Country for Old Men, and it won't be the only Oscar that movies wins next Sunday.

Prize Highlights With each category highlight, we will also take a look at the prizes we will be giving away for the Oscar Prediction contest, as well as some of the prizes we will have when our regular Box Office Prediction contests start back up after the Oscars.

This week we look at Walt Disney Treasures - The Chronological Donald, Volume Three, which is another of the Walt Disney Treasures line of premium DVD releases. This one looks at the career of Donald Duck. While Mickey Mouse is arguably the face of Disney, Donald Duck is the most prolific of their characters and this 2-disc set includes 30 shorts releases from 1947 to 1950, including three Oscar nomination shorts (Chip an' Dale, Tea for Two Hundred, and Toy Tinkers).

As for the Box Office prediction prize... We will have a glut of prizes to get through in the coming weeks, and this includes posters from City of Men, the sequel to City of God. That critically acclaimed, multi-Oscar nominated film opened stateside in 2003 becoming a very big hit for a foreign language limited release, which puts the pressure on this film. It is unlikely that City of Men will be able to live up to all of the expectations, but early word is encouraging.


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Filed under: Ratatouille, Juno, No Country for Old Men, Atonement, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, The Savages, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, Lars and the Real Girl, Away From Her, Cidade dos Homens