Michael Haneke "Amour"
Quentin Tarantino "Django Unchained"
John Gatins "Flight"
Paul Thomas Anderson "The Master"
Mark Boal "Zero Dark Thirty"
Commentary - Before the storm of the critics awards starts up and the screenings of the last few films gets underway, let's take a look at the Oscar race here in the calm before the storm. As always, the screenplays will probably afford some surprises, so the predictions are rocky at best. On the rise is the tiny Sundance hit Middle of Nowhere, which is gaining buzz on the Oscar blogosphere. The writer's branch always seems to throw in one of these indie favorites, so while I am not currently predicting it, I think Middle of Nowhere could be that film this year. Moonrise Kingdom was in my list for a while, but it needs some precursors soon otherwise it is going to be forgotten come January. At the moment it looks like despite slipping in the race and also in need of critics awards, The Master's script by Paul Thomas Anderson is still one of the top contenders. But it also, as a film, needs some help soon, or this might be one of its few nods. Michael Haneke's Amour is still holding up as well, and could be the one foreign language contender to look out for in both screenplay categories. While they have not really been screened yet (people have seen them but not outside studio groups), both Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty remain in this category as well. While I'm worried that Django Unchained is going to not be an Academy favorite, I still think it could hit here and in Supporting actor with Leo. In the final slot I am going with the newest Oscar contender, Flight. It's gotten rave reviews from critics, and seems to be on people's minds (with a potential screener being sent out today). I think it is definitely in the shaky fifth slot, but with its momentum growing, and possible Best Picture talk, I think it could have an effect down the ballot.