Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win - Graham Moore "The Imitation Game"
Could Win - Damien Chazelle "Whiplash" or Jason Hall "American Sniper"
Should Win - Damien Chazelle "Whiplash"
Commentary - This race has taken so many forms, and it changed dramatically when Gillian Flynn was shut out for Gone Girl (as the was the movie across the board except for Rosamund Pike). All of the sudden the perceived front runner was gone a huge gap was left just looking for someone to fill the gap. After winning the USC Scripter and the WGA The Imitation Game has leaped to the top of the pile, but it is far from a slam-dunk. With probably the exception of Inherent Vice, the other three contenders all have a legitimate shot here. The Theory of Everything's Anthony McCarten won the BAFTA, which show it has support. And American Sniper is clearly a well-liked film that will probably not have the preferential support to pull off picture but could pick up a major prize along the way. But I think that if anyone is going to beat Graham Moore it is the last minute switch-eroo Whiplash. In every other major race Whiplash has contended in Original Screenplay where it belongs. The Academy made an odd and wrong decision to switch it to adapted. While I don't like the reasoning, I do like the fact that it could win Damien Chazelle an Oscar, who deserves one after knocking it out of the park. Plus, Whiplash is one that has a lot of passionate voters, and could really rally behind the film here. It will be an interesting race to watch.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win - Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Could Win - Richard Linklater "Boyhood" or Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo "Birdman"
Should Win - Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Commentary - This race could be incredible indicative of how the night is going to go for Boyhood or Birdman. Neither script is really that great, as both are feats of acting and directing, but if either film is going to sweep, this will be an early indicator of which film exactly that is. I think however, that they are not going to use this category to pump up a Best Picture winner, but instead, do what they have done a lot lately in this category. From Midnight in Paris to Django Unchained to Her, the Oscar voters have rewarded not only a Best Picture nominee that isn't likely to win, but have rewarded popular and quirky directors/writers that show eccentricity and originality. I think that Wes Anderson is about to added to the list. They clearly like The Grand Budapest Hotel, and it did just win the WGA and the BAFTA, as well as a dozen or so critics awards in this category. I don't for a second think that it is a slam dunk, but I think is a great way to spread the love among the auteurs (assuming that Linklater and Inarritu either win or split BP and BD), and to show a bit of love for a movie they clearly admire.