Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: November Predictions - Best Adapted and Original Screenplay

November Predictions - Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Dean Hall "American Sniper"
Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"
Graham Moore "The Imitation Game"
Anthony McCarten "The Theory of Everything"
Joel & Ethan Coen, William Nicholson, and Richard LaGravenese "Unbroken"

Other Contenders - Nick Hornby "Wild", Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland "Still Alice", James Lapine "Into the Woods", Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice", Jon Stewart "Rosewater", William Monahan "The Gambler", Andrew Bovell "A Most Wanted Man", Stephen Beresford "Pride", Kieran Fitzgerald, Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Oliver, Hood Swarthout "The Homesman", Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber "The Fault in Our Stars", Steven Knight "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Dean DeBlois and Cressida Cowell "How to Train Your Dragon 2", Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, Phillippa Boyens "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"

Commentary - I honestly see four of these five making the cut, and yes I am confident this early in the game, with one slot being up in the air, two at the most. Of course a lot of that is banking on the fact that Unbroken will be a hit, I might have to back off of my hubris if it doesn't land as well as we think it will (although I really do think it will be a hit). We know that The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are both pure Academy bait, well liked by critics, and both should earn easy nods here. I also think that Gone Girl will be a hard film to bet against here. The fact that Gillian Flynn was able to adapt her novel so successfully, changing things when they were appropriate, and allowing Fincher room to play with the mood and story, is a testament to her faith in her director, and to her abilities. I think the writers will agree. Beyond that there are probably two slots up in the air (okay so I am really now backing down on my four locks theory). Wild and Still Alice are both getting great reviews, but I feel like their actors are the real contenders, and that everything else might get ignored. Yes the writers do love Paul Thomas Anderson, but they snubbed The Master which had other Oscar locks, and Inherent Vice doesn't look like a player in any other category except for maybe an outside nod for Josh Brolin. But I think that a new contender has emerged that has a real shot. American Sniper may not be the biggest Oscar contender, probably overshadowed by premiering next to Selma. But this category is not the strongest, and if it ends up playing well in other categories, it could easily bring this nod along with it. Also look out for Pride, A Most Wanted Man, Into the Woods, Rosewater, The Fault in Our Stars, and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

November Predictions - Best Original Screenplay
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo "Birdman"
Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman ""Foxcatcher"
Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
Paul Webb "Selma"

Other Contenders - JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year", Damien Chazelle "Whiplash", Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan "Interstellar", Justin Simien "Dear White People", Chris Rock "Top Five", David Ayer "Fury", Ira Sachs "Love is Strange", John Carney "Begin Again", Jon Faverau "Chef", Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Dan Hageman, and Kevin Hageman "The Lego Movie", Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski "Big Eyes", Patrick Tobin "Cake", Dan Gilroy "Nightcrawler", Woody Allen "Magic in the Moonlight", Theodore Melfi "St. Vincent"

Commentary - Unlike its Adapted Screenplay counterpart, this one is a real head scratcher, with simply too many contenders to handle. For example, I am currently leaving out previous nominees the Nolans, JC Chandor, and Wes Anderson (for Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, and The Grand Budapest Hotel), and hotshot newcomer Damien Chazelle for Whiplash. Through in daring comedies Top Five and Dear White People, and it looks like there could easily be ten or eleven worthy nominees. And all of those films are right there to try to upset the apple cart. Now onto the actual predictions. After premiering at AFI Fest, Selma has shot right into the Oscar race, and I expect its script to get some attention. And while I have been hesitant about Boyhood, a) I always thought it would get a nod here, and b) it looks like despite the onslaught, it is remaining a tough contender, so I am putting aside by hesitations, and throwing it squarely in this race. It's biggest competition here is Birdman, one of the most original scripts of the year, which continues to light up critics and the specialty box office. Foxcatcher has taken some heat lately, but its long journey over the last two years seems to be worth the trip, as critics love it, and despite its dark premise, I think it will do extremely well at the box office. And while some critics have cooled on its Oscar chances, I think it will inspire enough votes to at least score a few big nods. Finally, while Mr. Turner seems to be losing steam, I remind myself, that Another Year was even further in the whole at this point, and still managed to get a nod here. The writers love Mike Leigh, and he has rarely missed a nod in this category. I will continue to predict him here.

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