Oscars 2012: Best Original and Adapted Screenplay Predictions

The screenwriting categories always feel the most genuine of all the major awards. It’s not about big films for buzzing films—just about good writing. It seems as if these are the “safe” categories in which to nominate popular films or independent films that just flat-out told good stories in compelling ways.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

  • “The Artist” – Michel Hazanavicius
  • “Bridesmaids” – Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumulo
  • “Margin Call” – J.C. Chandor
  • “Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen
  • “A Separation” – Asghar Farhadi

One veteran and a lot of newcomers. That should give you a sense of how most Academy voters will think when looking at this list of nominees.

Of all the films on this list, The Artist is the only one that will compete in other categories at Sunday’s ceremony. That certainly gives it a leg up. Midnight in Paris marks the only other film to have a Best Picture nomination in this category. With the film unquestionably going down as Woody Allen’s best in years, he’s the most attractive option of all these candidates.

A Separation gives us the rare Best Foreign Language Film nominee who gets nominated in another major category, which should tell you something about that film. Too bad they don’t win ever. Bridesmaids is a nice toast to one of the more beloved films of 2011, but a raunchy comedy winning an Oscar? Any pure comedy winning an Oscar?

The nomination for Margin Call also honors the whip-smart writing of a rookie filmmaker, and though many other indies could have certainly been worthy, the film stands out for bringing home a subject matter otherwise over its audience’s head.

Prediction: “Midnight in Paris”


Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

  • “The Descendants” – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • “Hugo” – John Logan
  • “The Ides of March” – George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  • “Moneyball” – Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian, Stan Chervin
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” – Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

I have long considered Moneyball to be “The Social Network” of 2011, minus the momentum. Aaron Sorkin wrote the script for both (shared for “Moneyball,” obviously) and it’s a darn clever script. But oh, that momentum. “Moneyball” looks to be a loser in every category its nominated for this year.

The Ides of March was a particular favorite of the Golden Globes, but only managed its one nomination in this category. Although you have to give kudos to several performances, the writing is the highlight. A worthy honor, but not a contender.

The films that actually have any momentum elsewhere are The Descendants and Hugo. Both have Best Director nominations and other technical nods. Of the two, “The Descendants” leans more on its script. “Hugo” had the benefit of some magical visuals that really sold the story, whereas “Descendants” had writing and performances. Payne’s directing nod was worthy, but it’s a writer’s film, hence its Writers Guild Award win.

If there’s a dark horse to steal the Oscar from the WGA winner, it would have to be Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Intelligent white males over 50 would have to be the target demographic of that film, and most Academy members are just that. They likely recall John le Carré’s novel fondly and this was considered a top-notch nomination. It would be a moving acceptance speech as well, seeing as it would be a posthumous win for Bridget O’Connor

Prediction: “The Descendants”


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