“The Hateful Eight”: Looking at potential Best Original Screenplay Contenders

The Hateful Eight 3 cast
Good afternoon folks! Today I’m continuing on down the line of the big eight categories and finishing them off with another writing one…Best Original Screenplay. It’s the last of the big eight categories today, though I’ll continue on in the weeks to come with a few more, at the very least tackling Best Animated Feature and perhaps even Best Documentary Feature and Best Foreign Language Feature when those races begin to make more sense. In the meantime though, it’s Original Screenplay time!

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. Our Brand is Crisis – A true awards season dark horse, I’m placing a lot of faith in this one for a few reasons. Peter Straughan is a prior nominee for the Academy, the political material is pure Oscar bait, and voters could look for something a bit different to latch on to this year. Perhaps this will be the one, but perhaps not. Original Screenplay is super wide open right now, so I’m going with an X factor in the top spot. Straughan could very well capitalize if David Gordon Green’s film is a hit.

2. The Hateful Eight – Would it be a bit odd for Quentin Tarantino to win another Oscar in Original Screenplay for a Western? Sure. Is it out of the question? Not at all. Tarantino is a force of nature and voters have already awarded him twice, so while Best Director is probably where he’ll be aiming personally, Original Screenplay is certainly a strong possibility for him once again.

3. Inside Out – Depending on how the animated film fares in the quest for a Best Picture nod, it could see its chances for a nom here become more or less likely. Right now, it seems like the Pixar release is in a good spot, if a precariously good one. The writing team of Pete Doctor, Ronaldo Del Carmen, Josh Cooley, and Meg LeFauve (with additional work done by the potentially uncredited duo of Michael Arndt and Simon Rich) appears among the most “original” work in the category, but time will tell if it can hold on all season long.

4. Grandma – Call it a hunch, but I feel like voters are really going to be fond of Paul Weitz’s flick and look to reward him with a citation here. A lot will depend on how it does in other categories, but since I have it getting in elsewhere, this makes sense. Is it a solid spot? No, but this early on, there’s nothing wrong with that. Time will tell what happens, but I wouldn’t bet against it.

5. Trainwreck – There are no sure things right now in this category, so a big success like this one from Amy Schumer could definitely make a play. It would certainly be a bit ironic that a Judd Apatow movie gets nominated here when he didn’t write the script, but I doubt he’d be complaining. As more serious fare takes up the attention of voters, Schumer could fade away, but right now I have her set up for what might be a surprise nomination. She deserves it, that much is unquestionable.

6. Bridge of Spies – Probably a super safe choice that I’m underestimating, especially with Steven Spielberg at the helm. The screenplay is by Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers (yes, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen co-wrote this), most likely will be the big “prestige” contender in this category, and just seems right up a voter’s alley. At the same time, it might be too perfect a fit, so I’m keeping it just outside the top five for now, if only to see how other things fit instead.

7. Joy – At some point voters are going to snub David O. Russell, so it’s possible that this could be the time, but even so…it’s hard to count him out here. He’s also super overdue for a win, so that complicates matters. If the film itself is a major player like his last few works, he’ll more than likely get in. Much like the above title though, I’m trying the category out without Russell right now, just to see how it looks.

8. Spotlight – Just this week at the Venice Film Festival, Tom McCarthy’s film debuted to near rave reviews. The script he wrote with Josh Singer is suddenly moving up my charts in a big way, and might very well be in the top five by the next time this sort of a list gets updated. It’s a timely movie, one steeped in journalistic history, and might actually capture the zeitgeist. If it does…watch out.

9. Miles Ahead – Don Cheadle directs this biopic and co-wrote the script with Steven Baigelman, Stephen J. Rivele, and Christopher Wilkinson, in addition to acting, so he’s all over the place. Voters could look to reward him somewhere, so if Best Actor or Best Director don’t pan out, Original Screenplay could be where it’s at. This will be one to keep an eye on in the months to come for sure.

10. Sicario – With a ton of other choices like By the Sea and Love & Mercy to choose from for this final spot, why did I go with Taylor Sheridan’s script? Well, the film from Denis Villeneuve is just tremendous, so quality triumphs. It might be too bleak for the Academy, but if they open their minds, it can be a contender. Stay tuned to see what happens with this one as the season progresses…

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

11. By the Sea
12. Love & Mercy
13. Youth
14. Ex Machina
15. Suffragette
16. 99 Homes
17. Burnt
18. Ricki and the Flash
19. I’ll See You In My Dreams
20. The Good Dinosaur

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

21. Irrational Man
22. Straight Outta Compton
23. Everest
24. About Ray
25. The Program
26. Son of Saul
27. Dope
28. Sleeping with Other People
29. Stonewall
30. 5 to 7

That’s what the Best Original Screenplay race could very well be made up of ladies and gents. Stay tuned in the next week or so 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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