First 2016 Predictions
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen "Bridge of Spies"
Quentin Tarantino "The Hateful Eight"
Woody Allen "Irrational Man"
David O. Russell and Annie Mumulo "Joy"
Richard Linklater "That's What I'm Talking About"
Other Contenders - Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow "Trainwreck", Angelina Jolie "By the Sea", Chris Sparling "The Sea of Trees", Michael Arndt "Inside Out", Enrico Casarosa and Bob Peterson "The Good Dinosaur", Damon Lindelof, Brad Bird, and Jeff Jensen "Tomorrowland", Brian Sipe "Demolition", Diablo Cody "Ricki and the Flash", Abi Morgan "Suffragette", James Vanderbilt "Truth", Alan DiFore, Jim Kouf, and Jamie Linden "Money Monster", Cameron Crowe "Aloha", Kurt Sutter "Southpaw", Paul Weitz "Grandma", Werner Herzog "Queen of the Desert", Terrence Malick "Knight of Cups", Nancy Meyers "The Intern", Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig "Mistress America", Luke Davis "Life"
Commentary - The last couple of years have been really good to this category and, especially the last two years, the five contenders have far outweighed the quality of their adapted counterparts. This is rare phenomenon in Oscar history where it always seems that the Adapted race is tighter. This is a big part of a much bigger theory I am cooking up that will explain the last two years of Oscar voting (right now that sentence doesn't make sense, but I am working on a piece that will explain it). Right now, it is impossible to tell if that trend will continue for a third straight year, but I will say that it looks like it could be a tough race with a lot of great contenders. First and foremost is Quentin Tarantino. He has gotten two straight nominations, and actually won for Django Unchained, which is still kind of surprising considering the material. Clearly though the Academy voters have finally discovered how much they love him as a writer and The Hateful Eight could continue the streak. David O. Russell narrowly missed out on an Oscar for Joy, and teaming up with a fellow Oscar nominated writer Annie Mumulo could be the right combination for him to finally win on of those things. Woody Allen is a master of this category with the most nominations and wins in its history. He also is usually on an on again/off again cycle. So since Magic in the Moonlight failed to gain any traction, history tells us that Irrational Man could be a winner. If it is, expect him to be here once again. Richard Linklater's latest doesn't feel like Oscar bait, although neither did Boyhood, and it got six nominations including Best Picture and won one along the way. But even some of his earlier efforts at least got a screenplay nomination. Plus, he is now on the Academy's horizon, and could follow up quickly with another nomination, a phenomenon that happens quite often in recent Academy history. Once they like you, they like you. Finally, I am going to give the Coen Bros. another try. Last year they broke from their norm and wrote (or kind of added to) a screenplay for a film they did not direct. It turned into Unbroken which wasn't a complete disaster, but far from their best work. This year they are trying a similar strategy with Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies, along with newcomer Matt Charman. The film has Oscar bait written all over it. But so did Unbroken. Outside of these there are plenty of potentials. Cameron Crowe could recapture his Almost Famous magic with Aloha, Tomorrowland could break its genre barriers, and Pixar could strike again with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. Diablo Cody could get back into the race with the Meryl Streep awards potential Ricki and the Flash. Meryl Streep could also bring her awards luck to Emmy Winner Abi Morgan in Suffragette.Angelina Jolie could rebound from Unbroken with By the Sea, Chris Sparling could benefit from Gus Van Sant's incredible talents behind the camera. Terrence Malick, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, and Nancy Meyers should always be on the radar as well. But the film I am most looking forward to, as a potential in this category, is Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow's Trainwreck. The reviews of the unfinished product out of SXSW were fantastic, and it could be this year's Bridesmaids: the well-received raunchy comedy that breaks past stereotypes to awards glory. As always, we'll have to wait and see...