Oscar Circuit: Best Original Screenplay

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And the Nominees Are:

“The Artist” – Michel Hazanavicius
Oscar scene: The opening establishment of the times in Hollywood
“Bridesmaids” – Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
Oscar scene: The dueling speeches
“Margin Call” – J.C. Chandor
Oscar scene: Jeremy Irons explains how they will survive the crisis
“Midnight in Paris” – Woody Allen
Oscar scene: Corey Stoll’s monologue on death
“A Separation” – Asghar Farhadi
Oscar scene: The opening scene

I’m always a huge fan of the Original Screenplay category, if for no other reason than it champions creativity like no other. This year is of course no exception and features 4 writers who also directed their films (and one co-writer who was the star instead), so these are all projects with a real backing inside of the scribes’ souls. It’s a category this year that seems stronger than its sister Adapted category, when the opposite is usually true, and also this time around mostly filled with newbies (with one glaring exception of course). In case you haven’t guessed, I’m excited about this category. It’s got one of my favorite filmmakers of all time back in the game, and also features by far the edgiest comedy that the Academy has ever seen fit to nominate. It’s a nice collection for sure. Before we get started on the Best Original Screenplay race though, some history is of course in order here.

An interesting tidbit to note historically is that current nominee Woody Allen is the most nominated individual in this category, with 15 nominations for Original Screenplay. As for the past winners of late, they won’t tell us too much, but the last decade or so has produced wins for The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Milk, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Crash, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Lost in Translation, Talk to Her, and Gosford Park. Something to factor in here is that for the past 5 years, not only has the winner been a first time winner, but a first time nominee as well. There also hasn’t been a winner who directed their own flick since Crash, and only once recently has a Foreign Film took home the prize (and has only done it a handful of other times in total). Enough history though, why don’t we get on with it and take a look at the nominees?

The Artist is the first nominated film, and Michel Hazanavicius is the nominee. Also the director of the film, I’ll be honest and say the writing pales in comparison to the direction of this flick, but I have no major issue with this nomination, so it’s certainly a deserved one. He’s never been nominated before this year, and comes into all 3 of his categories (Best Picture and Director as well) as the frontrunner or just shy of it. Here I think he’s the second most likely winner, with the one caveat that a sweep by The Artist will make this victory a sure thing. Consider him a close second right now, but that could change easily on Oscar night.

Bridesmaids is the second film nominated here, and the nominees are Annie Mumolo and star of the movie Kristen Wiig. This is the first nomination for both ladies. I think their nomination is definitely not just a “thanks for playing” nod, but I don’t especially see the flick taking home the prize. It would be a pretty big surprise, and a good one at that, but don’t hold your breath. In the end it could just be too dirty for enough members to strongly consider voting for. Bridesmaids will have to settle in all likelihood for being, you guessed it…the bridesmaid instead of the bride.  Sorry, couldn’t resist there.

Margin Call is the third nominated flick, and the biggest surprise of the category. I’d contemplated predicting the film a few weeks before the nominations, but couldn’t bring myself to do it…alas. The nominee is J.C. Chandor and it’s his first go around with Oscar. He’s got absolutely no chance at winning though, so the nomination is clearly meant to be his reward/a pat on the back for a good start to his career. A victory for Margin Call would be among the biggest shocks of the ceremony, so that pretty much means that it isn’t happening. On to the next one…

Midnight in Paris is the fourth film nominated, and the odds on favorite to win. The nominee is of course Woody Allen, and this is the 15th Original Screenplay nomination for him. (with 2 wins in the category, 3 overall and a nomination total of 23…wow). Allen may not have recent history in his favor, as I wrote above that first timers tend to win of late and former winners haven’t took the prize home since, well…Woody himself for Hannah and her Sisters. I think he’s going to get honored for his most popular work in years here unless The Artist goes on a sweeping rampage. Barring that, the Wood Man should see his 4th Oscar get etched in his name. He won’t be there, of course, but he’ll pick it up eventually…I think.

A Separation is the fifth and final nominated film, and the dark horse of the race. The nominee is Asghar Farhadi, and he’d never been to the show until now. This is a universally loved flick, and I can see a bunch of voters checking it off. Now, I don’t think it’ll win, but I wouldn’t be absolutely shocked if it did. Foreign language movies have an uphill battle just to be nominated, so it’s obviously got supporters. Dos it have enough? I’m inclined to say no, but I wouldn’t completely count it out of the race.  Too much could still happen in the race up to and including Oscar night, so put a little star next to this nominee in case it manages to surprise.

As you can see, I’m basically predicting a battle between The Artist and Midnight in Paris, though one can perhaps see A Separation being the split decision pick. Bridesmaids is a long shot, and Margin Call is so far behind it might as well not be mentioned, but overall it’s a solid grouping. I lean strongly towards Midnight in Paris, but like I said, a sweep by The Artist renders the debate moot. Time will tell though. Whomever takes it home, the Oscar will be in creative hands!

Prediction: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris

Snubbed: 50/50 (Will Reiser), Beginners (Mike Mills), Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan), Shame (Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan), and Young Adult (Diablo Cody)

Thoughts? Discuss on the Forum!