Luke Davies and Felix Van Groeningen "Beautiful Boy"
Joel Edgerton "Boy Erased"
Josh Singer "First Man"
Barry Jenkins "If Beale Street Could Talk"
Gillian Flynn and Steven McQueen "Widows"
Other Contenders - Beau Willimon "Mary Queen of Scots", Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole "Black Panther", Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Ryan Reynolds "Deadpool 2", Matt Bai, Jay Carson, and Jason Reitman "The Front Runner", Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee "BlacKKKlansman", Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty "Can You Ever Forgive Me?", Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan "Wildlife", Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, and Will Fetters "A Star is Born", David Magee "Mary Poppins Returns", Steve Zaillian "The Irishman", Brad Bird "Incredibles 2", Alex Garland "Annihilation", Andrew Haigh "Lean on Pete"
Commentary - This race looks to be a lot more competitive than last year's, even with it looking like The Irishman moving to 2019. Josh Singer is past winner for Spotlight, and returns in Damien Chazelle's Neil Armstrong biopic. Poor Gillian Flynn lost at the finish line for Gone Girl, but teaming up with Oscar winner Steve McQueen might be the combination she needs to earn an Oscar nomination. Barry Jenkins won for his adaptation of Moonlight. If he brings the same energy to his adaptation of James Baldwin, he will be back in this race. Joel Edgerton has been quietly amassing a career as a success behind the camera to match his success in from of it. The first trailer for Boy Erased promises an emotional ride, and could make Edgerton a screenwriting success as well. Finally, I think that the Steve Carell and Timothee Chalament-led Beautiful Boy, whose script is written by previous nominee Luke Davies, is set to be a big Oscar favorite. Beyond those five, look for previous nominee Beau Willimon for the period piece Mary Queen of Scots, Jason Reitman and his team for The Front Runner, Spike Lee's BlacKKKlansman team, and previous nominees/winners Alex Garland, Brad Bird, and David Magee. After Logan's success last year, I think that the folks behind Deadpool 2 and Black Panther are worth a look. But I would also not discount the quirkier writers who often are a hit with this branch such as Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Andrew Haigh, and Nicole Holofcener. Finally, I think that the third remake of A Star Is Born sounds good on paper, but feels like one that sputters at the end. If it is as good as people are hoping, Cooper and his writing team are in this race.