Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott, and Spike Lee "BlacKkKlansman"
Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"
Josh Singer "First Man"
Barry Jenkins "If Beale Street Could Talk"
Eric Roth, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters, William A. Wellman, and Robert Carson "A Star is Born"
Other Contenders - Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen "Widows", Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole "Black Panther", Joel Edgerton "Boy Erased", Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini "Leave No Trace", Luke Davies "Beautiful Boy", David Lowery "Old Man and a Gun", Desiree Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele "The Miseducation of Cameron Post"
Commentary - Let's start with the obvious two: First Man and A Star is Born are headed for a magnificent Oscar total, and I would be surprised if they missed the cut. Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk should also do well with the writing branch for its well-received adaptation. One of the big surprises of the fall festival season was Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which earned raves for its screenplay and its lead actress. This will mean that Nicole Holofcener is finally an Oscar nomination screenwriter. Finally, an early contender, BlacKkKlansman, is still holding on, five months after Cannes. I still wonder if this film will play well with Academy voters, but so far, the buzz has held on. These five though have a lot of competition. After Logan made it through last year, watch out for Black Panther, which will most likely get a WGA nod (superhero movies have always done better at WGA and PGA than at the Oscars). Steve McQueen brings in genre specialist Gillian Flynn for Widows, which is my sixth place vote right now. Debra Granik could return to this race with Leave No Trace, and I would watch out for Miseducation of Cameron Post and Old Man and a Gun. A few weeks ago Beautiful Boy and Boy Erased were in the top five. Both still have some Oscar potential, mostly on the acting side, and if their subject matters are deemed important enough they could get broader support. But both are clearly flawed, and many Oscar prognosticators who have seen them are wavering on just how far they will go. As always, we'll have to wait and see.