Oscar nominations will be revealed on the 24th.  As arbitrary as the nominations can sometimes seem, there’s definitely method to their madness.  Over the next week, we’ll dive into the potential nominees in each of the big eight categories.  This time around: Original Screenplay.

VIRTUAL LOCK

  • Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
  • Michael Hazanavicus, The Artist

Woody has fourteen Oscar noms or wins for writing, and Midnight in Paris is a favorite for a Best Picture nom, so a nomination here is in the bag.  It is incredible to me that the writer of a silent film is such a sure thing for a nomination here.  Don’t get me wrong, The Artist‘s screenplay is in my top five, but I would have thought it would be a bigger hurdle to get people to realize a screenplay is so much more than dialogue.

GOOD BET

  • (none)

LIKELY IN

  • Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids

It is fascinating to me that the first Oscar nomination for the Apatow comedy machine could possibly go to Mumolo and Wiig.  Most pundits have them in, but a few don’t and I can see the reservations.  A female-centric comedy written by film neophytes is a tough sell, to be sure.  The voting writers, however, have much fewer hangups than the rest of the Academy.

ON THE BUBBLE

  • Will Reiser, 50/50
  • Tom McCarthy and Joe Tibani, Win Win
  • JC Chandor, Margin Call
  • Mike Mills, Beginners
  • Diablo Cody, Young Adult
  • Asghar Farhadi, A Separation
  • Terrence Malick, Tree of Life

I’m looking forward to watching 50/50 on Sunday.  Apologies for being crass, but cancer does tend to play with Oscar.  I’m a big fan of The Station Agent, but Tom McCarthy and I haven’t quite gotten along since then.  Still, a nomination here might encourage people to release Oscar fare earlier in the year (and Oscar to look more at the first half of the year).  Margin Call has benefited from a stellar cast and great timing, economy-wise.  I personally thought the script was too slight.  Mike Mills has a huge leg up because with Christopher Plummer a surefire nominee, lots of voters will have seen his film.  Diablo Cody does already have one Oscar to her credit.  I liked her script more than the past three films I mentioned, but it sorta feels like this year all potential Young Adult nominees will finish something like 7th in their categories.  Farhadi’s screenplay is supposed to be simply superb and the film was just named to the longlist for foreign film, though obviously its foreigness is something of a hurdle.  As I keep mentioning, I have no clue what to do with Tree of Life and I don’t believe anyone else does either.

DARK HORSES

  • Jeff Nichols, Take Shelter
  • John Logan, story by James Ward Byrkit, John Logan and Gore Verbinksi, Rango
  • Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan, Shame
  • Kenneth Longeran, Margaret

Three of these films feature strong acting performances that in the Oscar conversation, which is a great way to also get in the screenplay conversation, even if I found them all lacking.  A strong Pixar film would be a gimme this year, instead we have Rango around the periphery of the conversation.  Margaret has a fascinating backstory, one that I think writers would be sympathetic to (they’d love to give a big ol’ middle finger to people who mess with their vision and studios who try everything to kill their films), it may just be a question of how many actually saw the film.

SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSIDERED

  • Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, Paul
  • John Michael McDonagh, The Guard
  • Michel LeClerc and Baya Kasmi, The Names of Love
  • Dan Fogelman, Crazy, Stupid, Love.
  • Cliff Dorman, Gavin O’Connor, Anthony Tamblakis, Warrior
  • Gregg Araki, Kaboom
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