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“Foxcatcher” : 2015 Best Original Screenplay contenders


Today I’m continuing on down the line of the big eight categories and finishing them off with another writing one…Best Original Screenplay.

Here are the ten particular films/scripts that I have in play for Best Original Screenplay, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:

1. Foxcatcher – I think it’s impossible not to consider E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman’s script the one to beat right now. I know everyone seems to have a different frontrunner in this category, and it’s still early, but despite the top five all being potential winners, Bennett Miller’s film is the only one that seems like a lock to still be on a voter’s mind come nomination morning. That puts it in the number one spot for me today. Much can and will change, but I’m playing it safe currently.

2. Boyhood – Richard Linklater’s new opus is likely to put him in play for a Best Director nod, but some are saying that he’s likely to not just get a nom in Best Original Screenplay, but a win too. I can’t quite go that far right now, but he seems to be in a great position to contend, so that’s certainly something. This will likely be a critical favorite, so the groundswell will be there. I’ll be curious to see how things turn out for the flick. I’m a bit more bullish on it today than I was last week or last month, but it’s still got a long way to go.

3. Mr. Turner – It’s almost a sure thing that a new Mike Leigh movie gets an Original Screenplay nomination. This year, reviews out of the Cannes Film Festival suggest that won’t change, though I don’t quite buy the talk that he could win, at least right now. Leigh is a safe bet to crack the lineup, though anything other than that will depend on if the film gets into the Best Picture lineup and/or Timothy Spall becomes a Best Actor frontrunner.

4. Birdman – Another contender that I think is highly likely to get nominated but seems like an odd one to predict a win for, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film, which he cowrote with Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, and Nicolás Giacobone, could be too odd for the Academy’s tastes. They’ve been going on small limbs of late, and that benefits them in terms of a nod, but translating that nom to a win? We shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves there.

5. A Most Violent Year – I’m not sure if that surprise first nomination for J.C. Chandor has people assuming he’s a voter favorite or not, but he’s ranked very highly for a flick I’m not too sure about. I have him just slipping in right now, but I’m likely moving him down in my next set of predictions, along with the film itself. It’s a wild card that I’m sure I’ll come back to at some point, but right now I’m potentially backing off of it to see what else makes sense here.

6. Fury – David Ayer has been really hit or miss throughout his career, but this looks to be his clearest attempt yet at prestige and the results apparently are good. I thought he deserved consideration a few years ago for End of Watch, so at the very least he seems to be in play here. The final product is a bit of a mystery still, despite a promising trailer, but it does scream awards bait. Right now, it’s banging on the door of a nomination here for me.

7. Interstellar – The one place where Christopher Nolan seems to not be shunned by Oscar is in Original Screenplay. As such, it makes sense to have his return to original projects high up. He worked heavily on the script by his brother Jonathan Nolan that was originally going to be made by Steven Spielberg, so we’ll see what that means. If it turns out to be more than a visual feast, this sci-fi epic could be in line for a nomination…or more.

8. Big Eyes – Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski are a screenwriting duo that you’d think would have an Oscar nomination by now. Snubbed for works like Ed Wood, Man on the Moon, and The People vs. Larry Flynt, the pair are hoping that their second collaboration with Tim Burton finally gets them to the promised land. The material is as baity as they’ve ever handled, so if Burton keeps his eccentricities in check, a nomination is hardly out of the question.

9. Whiplash *Could go Adapted – Last week I wrote that since Damien Chazelle expanded his own short for this highly praised Sundance drama, he’ll likely have to compete in Adapted instead of Original, which hurts his chances a bit. That being said, I’m seeing a lot of my colleagues still mentioning this script in this category, so I’m mentioning him here as well. He’s definitely in play and if he winds up getting to stay in Original as opposed to Adapted, I think his chances will only improve. With J.K. Simmons looking to be thoroughly entrenched in the Supporting Actor race, the film won’t be forgotten about.

10. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson’s forte with the Academy has been getting into Original Screenplay, so this latest work he wrote with Hugo Guinness is definitely in contention. The movie made money, but it’s a very early release and could get lost in the precursor shuffle. Time will tell in that regard, but I don’t think it’s quite as likely a nominee as some of my colleagues do, at least at this point.

Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my commentary here) for Best Adapted Screenplay:

11. The Cobbler
12. Theory of Everything
13. Begin Again
14. Selma
15. Untitled Cameron Crowe Project
16. The Imitation Game
17. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
18. Magic in the Moonlight
19. The Judge
20. Maps to the Stars

Finally, here are ten more possibilities to give us a top 30 to cull from, just sans commentary as well:

21. Wish I Was Here
22. The Skeleton Twins
23. Chef
24. The Immigrant
25. Dear White People
26. Calvary
27. St. Vincent
28. Infinitely Polar Bear
29. 5 to 7
30. Pawn Sacrifice

That’s what the Best Original Screenplay race could very well be made up of ladies and gents. Stay tuned next week for my look at the Best Animated Feature race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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