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Oscars 2014 Cheat Sheet: Best Original Screenplay
We explain why they will win, and why they might not

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 As is traditional now that the Academy Award nominations have been announced, we’re profiling the nominees in each of the main categories and assessing their strengths and weaknesses going into the competition. We already profiled Best Adapted Screenplay, and today it’s the turn of Best Original Screenplay. It’s a mixed field this year: there are two politically-charged stories set in recent history, two traditional dramas and one future-set love story. Where will the Oscar go?

WORDS HELEN O'HARA
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ERIC WARREN SINGER, DAVID O. RUSSELL - AMERICAN HUSTLE

American Hustle

WHY THEY WILL WIN WHY THEY WON'T WIN
1. The film is a frontrunner for the big prizes, with nominations in all four acting categories, Best Picture, Director and the rest. The screenplay award could be part of a sweep. It also took home this one at the BAFTAs 1. A BAFTA win and a raft of nominations elsewhere – including Golden Globe and Writer’s Guild – is no guarantee that you’ll take a Screenplay prize, and in fact if Hustle wins big, Screenplay might be the token nod to other films.
2. Those Acting nominations are indicative of the film’s strong, vivid characters – and given that most voters are actors, that’s a good sign. They often vote for films with roles they would have liked to play. 2. Did anyone notice what these characters were saying under those extraordinary hairdos? Can anyone still remember any lines?
3. Many voters will remember the huge 1970s scandal that is the basis for the film, giving it bonus points for historical resonance and political impact, which the Academy tends to love. 3. Didn’t anyone else feel that there was a slight disconnect between the more caper-style con stuff and the political procedural? That might hold it back.

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