Oscar Circuit: Best Original Screenplay

Screenplay Nebraska

Nominee: Bob Nelson for Nebraska
Oscar Scene: “Have a drink with your old man. Be somebody.”

I’ll always be curious how much input Alexander Payne had on this screenplay, the first feature of his not credited to him as a screenwriter and the first since Citizen Ruth not adapted from something else. Was he the one who insisted on such grotesque, spiteful representations of extended family and juvenile humor, or were his fingerprints more on the film’s poignant father-son dynamic and eerily accurate depiction of the American Midwest? Perhaps he added relatively little and Bob Nelson just knows what Payne’s most comfortable with? Whatever the case, this screenplay – if nothing else – interestingly contains almost everything representing both the best and worst impulses of the director and I wouldn’t be surprised if many voters still assume him a co-nominee here. Unlike his previous wins, however, Nebraska is simply too modest in scope and buzz to have any hopes of snagging the award away from Her and American Hustle.

As I mentioned in my Will Win/Should Win article, when it comes to the contenders left out, it is appalling that Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t get nominated here despite not only being one of the Coen Brother’s most heartfelt screenplays, but also the most ingeniously structured of the year. While I had no illusions about R.F.I. Porto’s chances for his unflinching account of a national tragedy through the eyes of two deeply disturbed (and sharply written) individuals in Blue Caprice, I have to admit to thinking that Lake Bell’s charming screenplay for In a World… had a shot at a My Big Fat Greek Wedding or Lars and the Real Girl-esque surprise nod.

How many of you think my bet on American Hustle is going to be dead-wrong come the big night? Let me know in the comments!