Screenplay awards at the Oscars are interesting. Sometimes it’s the “big” category they’re willing to reward a film that’s a bit too low-key to snag the real top prizes. Or sometimes it’s just that final hurdle for a Best Picture front runner to show that it has every intention of steamrolling all categories. Even if the value of the Oscar is big, and I admit grossly exaggerated, I don’t think that the voters are any less susceptible to the gaudy wiles of category machinations – like original screenplay. I’d bet money that there are people who place greater (and incorrect) emphasis on the adjective in the phrase. Really, the category – in theory – is looking for the best screenplay that comes from an original source, but there’s a feeling that people end up looking for the screenplay that has the most original (read: unusual) hook. Hence, Inception for all its flat characterisations – which, even lovers of the film have accepted – is probably headed for a nomination here. I don’t consider Nolan a significant threat to actually winning the award, though. I’m expecting Black Swan to join it there, even though that’s another film that’s especially buoyed by its screenplay – but, there you go.
Taking into consideration the fact that anyone voting will be more ready to accept the film being thrown at them there’s no doubt that films with an added chances of showing up in acting categories, and more importantly the best picture race, will thrive which means that The Fighter which has turned into the late bloomer of the season could very well be headed for a screenplay nod here. Four months ago I’d have effortlessly predicted Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right as the one to beat. True, the screenplay is especially understated in a beautiful, but it’s alternative comedic tones and continuous freshness makes it seem like an obvious contender, it still is – but at the moment it looks like best Picture hopeful (as in hopeful of winning, and not just being nominated) The King’s Speech seems like an especially likely contender. I’ve heard more than a few who’ve seen it credit the screenplay as the strong point, and witty British banter is never something the screenplay category is averse to.
Predictions: Black Swan / The Fighter / Inception / The Kids Are All Right / The King’s Speech
The adapted screenplay is another story, like the original writing category the strongest contender is the film that seems most likely to tackle the Best Picture race – Sorkin’s The Social Network, by all indications it will be winning the category. It was only time before Sorkin managed to find the right film to work on to show off his obvious writing talents - Charlie Wilson’s War wasn’t quite it. After that it gets more difficult to me, by all indications I’d say that Rabbit Hole will be an obvious nominee here, I don’t see how any seeing this can resist the often brilliance of the screenplay. So, I’m predicting against what should be my better judgement. It seems Danny Boyle is headed for some Best Picture love so that only means that a screenplay nomination is logical to assume for his 127 Hours. I’d toss in Winter’s Bone and True Grit. I’m still not convinced that True Grit will be overly successful at the Oscars’ but the box-office success is something that voters might have in their mind...so, who knows?
Predictions: 127 Hours / Rabbit Hole / The Social Network / True Grit / Winter’s Bone
We can always consider Get Low which could be a contender in the screenplay section – but I’m not sure I can see it taking any of the predicted five out, and if Shutter Island were getting more love it’d be a contender for adapted screenplay. Although I’d love to see them mentioned, I’m not silly enough to predict something like Animal Kingdom or The Ghost Writer. Shame, they’d be worthy nominees.