James Ivory "Call Me By Your Name"
Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, and Peter Fellows "The Death of Stalin"
James Mangold, Scott Frank, and Michael Green "Logan"
Aaron Sorkin "Molly's Game"
Dee Rees and Virgil Williams "Mudbound"
Other Contenders - John Pollono "Stronger", Brian Selznick "Wonderstruck", Sofia Coppola "The Beguiled", Hossein Amini, Peter Straughn, and Soren Sveistrup "The Snowman", Richard Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan "Last Flag Flying", Lee Hall "Victoria and Abdul", Rian Johnson "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", Hampton Fancher and Michael Green "Blade Runner 2049", Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber "The Disaster Artist", Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber "Our Souls at Night", David Scarpa "All the Money in the World", Jason Dean Hall "Thank You For Your Service", Steve Conrad "Wonder", Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs "Wonder Woman", Matt Bomback, Matt Reeves, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver "War for the Planet of the Apes", Michael Green "Murder on the Orient Express"
Commentary - This category is so weak this year, in terms of pure Oscar bait contenders, but I'm hopeful that it leads to some of the thought provoking blockbusters that deserve recognition to finally make the cut here. For example, so far, I think Logan is in this race, and could go where other Marvel films have come up short (including Deadpool last year, despite a WGA nod). It is the type of character arch that writers will enjoy, and it is way more than its action. I thought about Blade Runner 2049, but so far its praise is for its direction and technical prowess, not its story. But Wonder Woman, The Last Jedi (hopefully), War for the Planet of the Apes, and Blade Runner, are all making the case that big sometimes does mean better, and with a lack of normal writing contenders, one of these might sneak in. Right now, my bet is Logan. Beyond Logan, I have probably what are considered the three "Oscar bait" scripts. Sorkin is a previous winner here, and Molly's Game has decent reviews. In a tough year, it might have had the same fate as Steve Jobs did a few years ago, but with less choice, Sorkin is an easy spot to fill. Call Me By Your Name continues to heat up the Oscar race since its premiere at Sundance in January, and right now I would consider it the front runner. Finally, Mudbound still has a tough hill to climb if Netflix doesn't play the game, but once again, in a weaker race, it may not matter in this category. In the final slot, I have a real wild card. I remembered that not that long ago, In the Loop, another Armando Iannucci comedy snuck into this race by surprise. The Death of Stalin got great reviews, and is just the kind of curve ball contender that could attract some writers to its cause. Beyond those five (and the potential blockbusters), I would watch out for Stronger, which is mostly getting buzz for its performances, but is a solid film with good buzz. Wonderstruck feels like it belongs here, but we need more consensus after its mixed festival launch. The Beguild is probably dead in terms of the Oscar race, but it will have supporters, the team of Neustadter and Weber have been flirting with Oscar recognition for years, and now have two more attempts this year. David Scarpa is writing for Ridley Scott, Jason Hall is a previous nominee, Victoria and Abdul could inspire older voters. But I think the two that we all really need to watch out for are Last Flag Flying and The Snowman. Last Flag Flying has mixed reviews, and The Snowman looks too genre for Oscar voters. But with names like Richard Linklater and Peter Straughn, both previous nominees in this category, on board, they could end up surprise screenplay contenders.