Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Oscar Narrative: Post Telluride/Toronto/Venice Predictions - Best Original Screenplay

Well, the crazy part of the festival circuit is over, although there are still a few key pieces including NYFF and AFI Fest, but right now, I think we have finally started to fit some of the pieces together for the upcoming Oscar season. First, we take a look at Best Original Screenplay.

Post Telluride/Toronto/Venice Predictions
David O. Russell and Eric Singer "American Hustle"
Woody Allen "Blue Jasmine"
Alfonso Cuaron and Jonas Cuaron "Gravity"
Bob Nelson "Nebraska"
Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith "Saving Mr. Banks"

Other Contenders - Peter Morgan "Rush", Ryan Coogler "Fruitvale Station", Danny Strong "Lee Daniel's The Butler", Craig Borten and Melisa Warmack "Dallas Buyers Club", Joel and Ethan Coen "Inside Llewyn Davis", Nicole Holofcener "Enough Said", Spike Jonze "Her", Jeff Nichols "Mud", Cormac McCarthy "The Counselor", Asghar Farhadi "The Past", Aaron Guzikowski "Prisoners"
Other Contenders - Normally, this category has to fight just to find five decent nominees, but this year, literally ever film mentioned above could legitimately pull into this Oscar race, making this a category to really watch. So first, who is on the outside looking in? First is Rush, which I am officially moving into Best Picture (spoiler alert?). It looks like a slick, well-made thriller that is getting rave reviews for Oscar winning-director Ron Howard, and the entire crew. The technical branches will probably eat it up, and Peter Morgan, another well-known name, could easily make the cut. Because it is more populist, I am holding it off for now. I am also holding off Fruitvale Station, because as so many films have been released, the buzz for the project has died. It needs a revival soon, or it could be out of the race completely. Also peeking in is The Butler, which has used it's "inspired by" montra to sneak into Original. In a normal year, it would make the cut in this category, which usually is not as deep as its Adapted counterpart. But the script had a lot of critics, and this year, there are a lot of big films that the writing branch has to consider, and I don't see The Butler being able to beat some of the stronger scripts. Also looking in at the moment: Inside Llewyn Davis, Dallas Buyers Club, Enough Said, Her, Mud, Prisoners, and The Counselor. So who is in at the moment? So far we know that Woody Allen is back to form with Blue Jasmine, and the writing branch idolizes his work. Nebraska was a bit shaky at Cannes, but after its North American debut on this festival circuit, the buzz is getting louder. While Alexander Payne did not write this particular script, his films have always benefitted the written material, and the apparent personal and heartfelt nature of Nelson's work will be hard to ignore, according to early notices. Gravity may not be a traditional screenplay nominee, but early reviews suggest that it has enough emotion and prestige, as well as incredible deep and human story hidden beneath its special effects to sway Academy writers. With the other two slots, I am taking a risk and picking films that have not been seen yet. The first is Saving Mr. Banks. The trailer was a bit to Disney for me, but apparently, the original script was fantastic on paper. If the film suceeds in capturing enough of the spirit of the original work, it will definitely be a contender. Finally, I am going with David O. Russell. I think he was close to that Adapted Screenplay award last year, and his last two films have been popular with the Academy. I also just think that American Hustle is going to end up being a really excellent film, and a screenplay nod seens inevitable in that case.

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