2013 Oscar Nominees Profiled: Best Original Screenplay

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It’s that time of year again, as Hollywood’s finest find themselves, with alarming regularity, donning outfits that cost more than your house and jewellery worth more than you will earn in a lifetime. But awards season is all building to one supreme event, the Empire Awards Oscars on February 24. Ahead of that milestone, we assess the chances of each nominee in the major categories, and see who’s looking good ahead of the big night...

See also: Best Picture Profiles
See also: Best Adapted Screenplay Profiles See also: Best Supporting Actor Profiles See also: Best Actress Profiles See also: Best Actor Profiles
See also: Best Supporting Actress Profiles See also: Best Director Profiles

Written by: The director Micheal Haneke. Read the script here (PDF).

Why He Will Win

1 The film clearly has huge momentum going, with a Best Picture and Directing nomination to match this, so it must be in with a shot. 2 This might be the runner-up prize when (as expected) Amour loses out on Best Picture. 3 The Pianist and Pulp Fiction both demonstrated that a Palme d’Or winner of recent times can win the Best Screenwriting Oscar.

Why He Won't Win

1 It’s vanishingly rare for screenplays entirely in a foreign language to win in this category. 2 This screenplay was very short – under 70 pages – despite producing a much longer film. That might be a bit sparse for this usually talky prize. 3 This didn’t even win Best Screenplay at the European Film Awards, so what chance does it have at the Oscars?

Written by: The director Quentin Tarantino. Read the script here (PDF).

Why He Will Win

1 It’s a funny, smart and violent look at a historical period of great importance that America sometimes prefers to ignore. 2 Tarantino won the BAFTA in this category and, for what it’s worth, the Globe. 3 This is often the prize given to the highest-profile contender that isn’t going to win Best Picture – so surely that’s Tarantino? He has previous form in the category, winning for Pulp Fiction.

Why He Won't Win

1 His lost for Inglourious Basterds in this category suggests that the Academy either doesn’t get or doesn’t like his historical revisionism. 2 The film doesn’t have much momentum in the big categories, and Best Picture winners often win a Screenwriting prize. 3 This is a very competitive year in the Screenplay category and with another film literally sparking a Congressional investigation, Tarantino can’t count on being the most exciting nominee.
Written by: Director Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola Read the script here (PDF).

Why They Will Win

1 Quirky indies have great form in this category – Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Eternal Sunshine. 2 The general consensus was that this was Anderson’s best in a while, combining his trademark oddity with some real heft and heart, and it’s done well elsewhere, notably winning the AFI award. 3 Half the Academy’s voters were actually in the film, so that might help.

Why They Won't Win

1 The traditional Oscar predictors have largely overlooked the film, and it hasn’t won at any of them. 2 It’s not nominated for anything else, and in particular not Best Picture. It has, in fact, been largely ignored in awards season generally. 3 When’s the last time a film full of Boy Scouts won Best Original Screenplay?

Written by: Journalist, screenwriter and producer Mark Boal. Read the script here (PDF).

Why He Will Win

1 After a huge amount of research and some astonishingly good intel, Boal produced a journalistic and thrilling account of very recent history. 2 As with Argo or Lincoln, Boal managed to take a story where everyone knew the ending and make it unbearably tense. 3 The film has all the other nominations to suggest a possible win (notably Picture and Director) and Boal’s been nominated all over the season, winning the WGA.

Why He Won't Win

1 There has been huge controversy around the film’s depiction of torture scenes and some attempts to boycott it. Oscar doesn’t like controversy and tends to avoid real hot-button films. 2 With a Congressional hearing into the film’s sources still ongoing, the Academy may be wary of acknowledging it. 3 Will the Academy penalise him for all that impenetrable techno-babble?

Written by: Screewnwriter John Gatins. Read the script here (PDF).

Why He Will Win

1 The film works well as a character study of a man who’s both hero and villain, frequently at the same time. 2 It’s a story with personal significance to Gatins, and he’s been charming, open and candid about his own life in discussing his film – which may have won over voters. 3 Bagging a nomination for his leading man could help Gatin’s chances: although Washington looks unlikely to win, the acting block might reward Gatin on his behalf.

Why He Won't Win

1 While he’s been nominated for the WGA, Gatins hasn’t picked up any other major nominations this season. 2 The film is not nominated for much else, in particular Best Picture. And Denzel Washington’s nod suggests that it’s seen as a film with one great character rather than being, overall, a great film. 3 The film feels more like a showcase for one great character than a great film overall.