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Academy Awards Best Screenplay Nominees – Who Will Win?

February 17th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

 

The fields for the 2009 Academy Awards Best Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay races are full of worthy competitors, but simple understanding of the customary Academy leanings point to several favorites. Although his original screenplay for “Avatar” has resulted in a film that has broken records around the world, it’s actually more of a longshot to win. Science-fiction films are often overlooked by the Academy, despite the fact that two of them have been nominated for their screenplays this year (“District 9” by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell is nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category). As a result, neither “Avatar” nor “District 9” is favored to win, although Blomkamp and Tatchell’s script is notable for being one of the more affecting serio-comic science fiction scripts in recent years.

Adapted screenplays “In the Loop” and “An Education” suffer from ‘arthouse syndrome,’ meaning that they represent underdog independent filmmaking, and undoubtedly lack the clout and audience to give them the votes either would need to win. (It’s not commonly known, but only Academy members in the Screenwriting branch can nominate or vote on Best Original or Best Adapted Screenplay. This gives the contest a certain gravitas, but it also means that the number of voters is much smaller than an ‘all in’ category like Best Picture.) So the conventional knowledge is that both pictures’ scripts, while charming in their own ways, will not take home the Oscar.

Ultimately, the Best Adapted Screenplay contest comes down to 2 audience favorites: Geoffrey Fletcher’s screenplay for “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (which automatically wins for the most convoluted title ever…) and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner’s “Up in the Air.” While ‘Precious’ is a hard-hitting film (and Best Supporting Actress nominee Mo’Nique is a shoo-in to win), Hollywood’s conventional wisdom points to Reitman and Turner’s script (adapted from Walter Kirn’s novel) as the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar winner.

In terms of original scripts, “Avatar”‘s dark horse status doesn’t mean the Academy won’t honor the self proclaimed ‘King of the World’ with another screenwriting Oscar – it’s just unlikely. Three of the other Best Original Screenplay nominees, “The Messenger” by Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, “A Serious Man,” by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen and “Up,” by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy are just too arcane (or too animated) for the Academy’s scribes’ votes. If it’s any solice, “Up” is nominated for BOTH Best Picture and Best Animated Feature, and it should win for the latter. But the REAL battle for Best Original screenplay is between Mark Boal’s “The Hurt Locker” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” And if one reads the Tinseltown mentality correctly, the Best original Screenplay Oscar will go to Mark Boal.

One thing’s certain: with so many pictures nominated, along with a record-setting year for theatrical box-office receipts, it’s going to be a very interesting Academy Awards show on Sunday, March 7th! Best of luck to ALL the nominees!!

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