Alas, all good things must come to an end. We’re at the conclusion of the 2014 Sizing Up series and closing it out with a look at the final major category…Best Original Screenplay. This is the last race to be analyzed before next year, so I’ll quickly say how much I enjoy doing it and the interaction in the comments section afterwards. You all know the drill by now, so I’ll also just give a quick overview before diving right in. Basically, this is a fairly solid lineup, as per the usual of late, though hardly an overwhelmingly good slate of titles. Last year, I got five out of five in my top tier, including eventual winner Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Anyway, that’s in the past. It’s time to size up the Best Original Screenplay race!
The “Wishful Thinking” Category
First up, these are the scripts to films that I’d say are really and truly 100% out of the race, regardless of their quality. Some are screenplays from good films that either are just too small or too problematic for the Academy to be included in the field, and others just didn’t live up to the expectations that we all had for them. There are plenty, but I’ll mention a half dozen of them. They would be 5 to 7, The Intern, Legend, Lost River, Time Out of Mind, and Tomorrowland. In another time and place a few might have been more realistic contenders, just not in this one. Let’s now move on to some screenplays that actually have a shot though, albeit still a pretty small one.
The “Dark horse/Long shot” Category
This first big/more notable grouping consists of ten films this year that I think most likely won’t be contenders for their screenplays, but aren’t out of the race completely yet. There’s something definitely missing from the equation though in order really take them seriously in the way that Oscar nominees need to be. Some of them are a bit bigger contenders than others are, but for me I’m inclined to bet against them all right now and keep it that way. Maybe I’m wrong, but I sincerely doubt it. The movies/scripts in question are the following:
Honestly, and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here, I’m fairly sure that none of these scripts will come close at all to getting nominated. I suppose you can never count out Woody Allen, but Irrational Man doesn’t seem to have interested anyone so far, voting wise. By the Sea had a chance before we found out the movie was terrible, while things like The Good Dinosaur, Mistress America, and Sleeping with Other People just failed to catch on. They’re all long shots at best, but I’m confident in saying that nothing here (yes, even my beloved It Follows) will come anywhere close to getting a nomination. Moving on…
The “Second Tier” Contenders
This next particular assortment of scripts and their associated movies are solidly in play for Best Original Screenplay (or at least more solidly than that previous group), but have a number of serious question marks holding them back from approaching top tier status. I’m not sure that any of these will be able to make it to the big show, but I wouldn’t write them off just yet, as stranger things have happened. I don’t see them as really big time contenders, but like I said, they’re not too far off from the pack. As you know, there are ten contenders in this category, and the words on the page that I see in this light are:
As you know with this section of the article, I usually say the following: I’m sure there’s a version of this year’s race where more than a few of these films/screenplays could make up a portion of the Best Original Screenplay field, but there’s still another dozen flicks and their scribes to come with way better chances at the nomination slots. This year though, it seems like even most of these seemed like less likely contenders than usual. If you’re looking for certain horses to back here I suppose you might want to look at 99 Homes, Straight Outta Compton, and Tangerine. Once upon a time, Our Brand is Crisis as well as Ricki and the Flash seemed in great early spots, but that’s obviously not the case anymore. The impending big group is next of course, and that’s where all the major players are hanging out this year, much like last year.
The “Pole Position” Contenders
Sigh. My last grouping of the season, which is always a rather sad thought for me. I’ll be back next year of course though with another Sizing Up series, so fear not, but melancholy has still begun to set in. Anyway, here we go. These are the dozen most likely contenders for Best Original Screenplay. As previously mentioned, the big flicks and their scripts are all pretty much housed here. My personal Oscar predictions consist of a grouping of some of these screenplays, but all of my predicted nominees are included here. They each have a ton of things going in their favor, and for the most part have received plenty of precursor attention. They’re some of the most mentioned films so far this year too, and that definitely helps things along. Which 12 screenplays are they, you ask? Well, they are the following:
Right now, I only really see Spotlight as being assured of a slot, especially since it’s the odds on frontrunner to actually win Original Screenplay. The Hateful Eight also is more or less locked in for a nomination here, making it the prime winner competition. Bridge of Spies and Inside Out are next in line, seemingly in a solid position for two of the remaining spots (though neither is assured of anything), leaving eight other scripts fighting it out for the last seat at the table. Grandma, Mad Max: Fury Road, Trainwreck, and Youth seem less likely, so it probably is between Ex Machina, Joy, Love & Mercy, and Sicario. My hunch, it’s either Love & Mercy or Sicario in that last position, with the former might having a slight edge on a surprise appearance, though watch out for a last minute surge by Ex Machina. It’s a fluid race though, no doubt about that. A lot can and probably will change, so stay tuned to see what happens when the Oscar voters actually chime in…
–Thoughts? How do you see Best Original Screenplay shaping up? Discuss in the comments!