The Best Original Screenplay category wasn’t quite as controversial as other categories this year. The expected nominees made the coveted list, compounded by some first-time nominees. “Boyhood” and Golden Globe® winner “Birdman” each got nominations, both Academy Award® frontrunners this year, along with “Foxcatcher,” “Nightcrawler” and Golden Globe® winner (in Best Picture – Comedy or Musical) “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which caused a frenzy over its comedic Best Motion Picture win at the Golden Globes® a few weeks ago.
Award show prognostication is not always easy, as past years have proved, especially when there’s such worthy films in the same category – which is certainly the case this year – however, with Oscar® politics and previous accolades as indicators, one can, usually, deduce who’s gonna take home the gold at this point.
Here’s a breakdown of the five nominees and their chances of winning:
“Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris and Nicolás Giacobone
This is the first time Iñárritu has been nominated in the writing category – his 2006 film “Babel” was nominated for Best Picture with Iñárritu also getting a directing nomination. The director also wrote his 2010 film “Biutiful” with Giacobone and Bo but only got nominations in the Best Foreign Language and Best Actor, for Javier Bardem, categories. And since it seems very likely that “Boyhood” may take home the most important award along with director Richard Linklater getting Best Director, the Academy may feel entailed to award “Birdman” for its writing – because the writing is amazing. There were unforgettable poignant monologues (mostly due to an incredible cast) and self-referential themes about art, criticism and resurgence seeping into every conversation. This is the stuff that Academy voters love. And with one of the best reviewed films of the year unlikely to get the top two coveted awards of the night, Best Original Screenplay is a kind of consolation prize.
“Boyhood,” allegedly the best reviewed film of the year, praised by both critics and even über cynical film lovers alike, is almost sure to win Best Picture, Best Directing for Linklater and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette. And, as previously stated, awarding the two most coveted awards of the night, leaves little room to give recognition to Iñárritu’s masterful “Birdman.” Nabbing six nominations, Linklater’s unprecedented coming-of-age tale is a landmark film for the history books. It’s unlikely it’ll come out of the race empty-handed. However, when it comes to the Original Screenplay category, I think voters will favor “Birdman.”
One of the best surprises out of 2014 was “Nightcrawler” – a gritty, fictional exposé about the work of news videographers from first time director Gilroy. The best thing about the film was, of course, star Jake Gyllenhaal‘s absolutely wonderfully creepy performance as Louie, an antihero who pushes his career to the limits breaking all sorts of ethical codes along the way. So, it was a little surprising to hear the film’s only nomination wasn’t for its star but in the writing category. It deserves to be in this category. Remember the restaurant scene? Gives me chills just thinking about it. It won’t take home the gold, but it’s so nice to see “Nightcrawler” in the race at all.
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“Foxcatcher” is gearing up to be this year’s “American Hustle.” And by that I mean it could go home empty handed. It’s been nominated at all the major awards shows this season and has been nominated for five Academy Awards®, but hasn’t taken home anything so far that would make this film a threat to the aforementioned films in this category. This is Futterman’s second nomination. He was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay in 2006 for “Capote.” The film’s best chance is in the Makeup and Hairstyling category. It’s up against only two other films – “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Anderson’s latest quirky comedy caused quite a stir at this year’s Golden Globe® ceremony, when it bested “Birdman” in the Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture category. The win was particularly surprising considering the film’s initial release date was back in March of last year, long before the conventional fall release date schedule most Oscar® hopefuls are released in – you might remember Fox Searchlight Pictures announcing a few weeks ago it was re-releasing the film in theaters for special return engagements. This is Anderson’s third nomination in the Original Screenplay category. He was nominated twice before – in 2002 for “The Royal Tenenbaums,” shared with Owen Wilson and in 2013 for “Moonrise Kingdom,” shared with Roman Coppola. If any of the films in this category are a dark horse it’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Third time might be the charm for Anderson.
Will win: “Birdman”
Should win: “Birdman”
Could win: “Boyhood”
Dark horse: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Who do you think will win? Let us know in the comments below.