Looking At Potential Best Original Screenplay Contenders


Oh boy. Well folks, it’s come to that time again. No, not the start of fall, though that was last week, officially. It’s now about to be October, so we’re definitely out of the summer, even if the weather doesn’t suggest that. However, we’re not here to talk weather, but whether or not some screenplays are getting awards. Yes, today I’m continuing on down the line with the last of the big eight categories and finishing off with the other writing one…yes, Best Original Screenplay. It’s the final one of the big eight categories today, but not the final installment of this series overall, as I’ll continue on in the weeks to come with a few more, at the very least tackling Best Documentary Feature and perhaps even another category like Best Foreign Language Feature when that sort of race begins to make more sense. In the meantime though, it’s Original Screenplay time here, so let’s get started!

Best Adapted Screenplay and the candidates there got their due last week, so this week, you must know what that means…

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. Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach leads in Best Original Screenplay right now, and this could be a thing that lasts all season long. Marriage Story is going to be nominated all over the top tier of Oscar categories, which can only help him. Especially if one of his cast members is poised to win, Baumbach could easily follow suite. At least right now, he’s clearly in the pole position. Bet against him at your own peril.

2. Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood – Another Oscar for Quentin Tarantino? He’s definitely Baumbach’s main competition and it’s not impossible to project a third Original Screenplay win for Tarantino. Off all the movies competing in this category, Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood is going to be the most widely nominated, Academy wise, and that’s important to note. It’s hard not to assume that QT is in second place right now…

3. The Farewell – The biggest of the little films hoping to contend here, Lulu Wang is in a good spot to see her script for The Farewell nominated. In fact, I’m sure there’s going to be some speculation that she’s a potential upset winner here. I’m not willing to say that yet, but with the right campaign, A24 might be able to surprise with this one. Stay tuned!

4. Parasite – How big can Parasite get? Bong Joon Ho and his co-writer Han Jin-won are continuously moving up my rankings, now cracking the top five. If Parasite has Roma like potential, and it seems poised to, NEON is going to work overtime to get Bong Joon Ho cited by voters. At this point, would you bet against it happening?

5. Knives Out – Rian Johnson currently slips in with a nomination here, holding off the below contenders to be cited for Knives Out. Johnson’s writing has been heavily praised and is the most likely aspect to receive a citation by the Academy. If Oscar voters see this as more than just a fun popcorn flick, he could easily get in.

6. Waves – A24 and Trey Edward Shults have a real X factor here with Waves. Basically, if you think it’s going to get a Best Picture nomination, you have to at least come close to fitting it in somewhere else, nomination wise. Could Original Screenplay be the place? This is the spot to look, but will it happen? We shall see…

7. Booksmart – The quartet of Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Katie Silberman are worth keeping note of. Voters may want to make sure they don’t forget about the female contribution to cinema in 2019, and Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut Booksmart is, with The Farewell, among the best of the bunch. Comedy can fare well in Original Screenplay, giving this one at least a fighting chance at a nod.

8. Dolemite Is My Name – Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski are experts at crafting entertaining biopics, which they once again did here with Dolemite Is My Name. With all of the attention Netflix will be paying Marriage Story here in Original, along with The Irishman in Adapted (among others), will they give this one enough attention? Sit tight, because if they do, it could be a spoiler!

9. Us – The buzz around Jordan Peele has sort of died right now, but his chances at another nom this year are still there. Us is going to get pushed by Universal, so Peele will be in the thick of it. His competition is tough, to be sure, but you can never completely cross off a former winner in this category, that’s for sure.

10. Ad Astra – Watch out for Scott Z. Burns and The Report or Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns for 1917 here. However, right now I’m going with Ad Astra, penned by James Gray and Ethan Gross, in the final top ten slot. A lot will depend on how the precursors treat this one, but at the moment, I’m hanging in there in regards to believing in its awards prospects…

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

11. The Report
12. 1917
13. Uncut Gems
14. Bombshell
15. Pain and Glory
16. A Hidden Life
17. The Peanut Butter Falcon
18. Honey Boy
19. Queen & Slim
20. Harriet

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

21. The Lighthouse
22. Clemency
23. The Art of Self-Defense
24. The Last Black Man in San Francisco
25. Midsommar
26. Long Shot
27. The Aeronauts
28. Lucy in the Sky
29. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
30. The Public

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 one of the other Oscar races!

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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