Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, and Frances McDormand in Moonrise Kingdom (Photo : Focus Features)
The Original Screenplay category has always been one of the most predictable categories in the Oscar race. However this year the race seems wide open with three Best Picture nominees contesting the writing award. The Writers Guild of America has always dictated what script will win but this year only three of the five scripts are nominated for the WGA. Previous winners include "Midnight in Paris," "The King's Speech," "The Hurt Locker," and "Milk."
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Amour-Michael Haneke's recognition for "Amour" is one of two recognitions he has received from the Academy this year; he is also nominated for Best Director. "Amour's" mention in the category came as a surprise as it had only won one Critics' Circle and had failed to be honored at the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice Awards. "Amour" was ineligible for the WGA awards and as result it could still have a chance at winning the category. In 2010 "The King's Speech" won the award for Best Original Screenplay even though it did not qualify for the WGA. Additionally "Amour" has a nomination at the British Academy (BAFTA) and if it wins there, the film's chances will expand greatly.
Django Unchained- Quentin Tarantino's nomination for "Django Unchained" marks his third recognition in the category and his fifth overall nomination at the Oscars. Tarantino was previously recognized for Best Director for "Pulp Fiction (1994)" and "Inglorious Basterds (2009)." He was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for "Inglorious Basterds" and "Pulp Fiction;" he won for "Pulp Fiction." "Django Unchained" is considered a favorite in the category even though it was ineligible for the WGA. "Django" has already won the Golden Globe and the Broadcast Film Critics in addition to the Hollywood Film Awards. If it wins the BAFTA, it will be hard to stop the film from losing the Academy Award.
Flight- John Gatins' nomination marks his first Academy Award mention. His work for "Flight" has not been recognized by any awards organizations except for the WGA. "Flight" is one of the two films in the category not nominated for Best Picture and is expected to go home empty handed. However if "Flight" wins the WGA, Gatins may be have a good chance at the Oscar.
Moonrise Kingdom-Wes Anderson obtained his third nomination for the Academy Awards while Roman Coppola received his first for "Moonrise Kingdom." Anderson was previously nominated for "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "The Royal Tenenbaums." During the first half of awards season "Kingdom" was thought to be a big contender as it won seven critics' circles. The Film was nominated for the WGA, Critics' Choice, and the Golden Globe and even won the Gotham award. However its failure to obtain a Best Picture nomination has made it a long shot to win this category.
Zero Dark Thirty-Mark Boal obtained his fourth nomination; he won two Oscars in 2009 for "The Hurt Locker" and is nominated for Best Picture for "Zero Dark Thirty." Zero Dark Thirty started the awards season winning virtually all precursor awards. However its winnings started to slow down when controversy struck. Politicians, critics and Academy members protested against the film's torture scenes. The movie then failed to obtain a Best Director nomination, weakening the film's position in the race. Mark Boal has won seven critics' circle for Best screenplay but has failed to win the Golden Globe and the Critics' Choice. The film is currently nominated for the BAFTA, and WGA; a win from either one of these organizations may help its chances to re-emerge as a front-runner.
Predictions-"Amour" seems like a long-shot but the Academy surprised by nominating it for five awards and therefore demonstrated it was one of its favorite films. Additionally the film was nominated for Best Director while "Django Unchained" and "Zero Dark Thirty" were not. It seems unlikely but "Amour" has the momentum.