Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Heisserer "Arrival"
August Wilson "Fences"
Luke Davies "Lion"
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McRaney "Moonlight"
Tom Ford "Nocturnal Animals"
Other Contenders - Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder "Hidden Figures", Jeff Nichols "Loving", Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan "Hacksaw Ridge", Jay Cocks "Silence", Todd Komarnicki "Sully"
Commentary - This is a tough one to predict. If Moonlight had stayed in Original, these two categories would be an easy ten. But since its switch it is going to knock someone out. Lion, Arrival, and Moonlight feel like the safest bets. The last three slots are interchangeable. I think Hidden Figures is hitting its stride at the right time. But this type of film just usually doesn't do well with the Writers Branch. We saw The Help get a WGA and BAFTA screenplay nod and miss out. I think that means instead that Fences gets in. Plus, I can't imagine writer passing up the chance to honor one of their best. So for the fifth slot, I am putting in Nocturnal Animals. I'm still shocked at how well it did at BAFTA, and I feel that even though it probably won't make Best Picture,
Best Original Screenplay
Taylor Sheridan "Hell or High Water"
Damien Chazelle "La La Land"
Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos "The Lobster"
Kenneth Lonergan "Manchester By the Sea"
Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush, Jim Reardon, Josie Trinidad, Phil Johnston and Jennifer Lee "Zootopia"
Other Contenders - Matt Ross "Captain Fantastic", Mike Mills "20th Century Women", Paul Laverty "I, Daniel Blake", Maren Ade "Toni Erdmann", Asghar Farhadi "The Salesman", Jim Jarmusch "Paterson", Noah Oppenheim "Jackie", Joel and Ethan Coen "Hail, Caesar!", Woody Allen "Cafe Society", Marc Hamies, Shannon Tindle, and Chris Butler "Kubo and the Two Strings", Jeff Nichols "Midnight Special", Ira Sachs "Little Men"
Commentary - With Loving and Moonlight now in Adapted, this race has two huge slots to fill, and with the quirky writer's branch, the possibilities are endless. Hell or High Water, La La Land, and Manchester are in, and are the three battling it out for the win next month. The last two slots are interesting. The Lobster feels like a perfect fit for these voters, and I think it can breakthrough. In the final slot, I am going to animation, which has historically done well in this category. Zootopia is beloved, highly original, and beautifully written. It could join the ranks of other animated films in the last 15 years that have charmed the writers. But both of these films could miss out. Captain Fantastic has surprised all year, 20th Century Women should be nominated, Jackie would not surprise me, and Kubo and the Two Strings was the animated film that gets in instead. This is also a chance to reward indie or foreign favorites who have found love here in the past like Toni Erdmann, The Salesman, I, Daniel Blake, Little Men, Midnight Special, and Paterson.