Talking Oscars: The Top Screenplay Contenders

After covering Picture, Director, and all the acting categories, I acknowledge that I could have split these into two different days. But they’re so similar in nature, I figured let’s just do this damn thing. So, here is a look at the top 15 Adapted and Top 15 Original Screenplay contenders.


1) Women Talking

Sarah Polley’s dialogue heavy script is a solid contender in multiple categories, but with the strength of it all around, it feels like it could be the early front runner here. The biggest problem is that the number two contender could have also just been called Women Talking, and it might cause the writers branch to figure out which women they like talking more, leaving room for a potential spoiler win in this category if the votes are too split.

2) She Said

Adapted on the journalistic work of the characters played in the movie by the films stars, this has drawn several comparisons to Spotlight, which won this category. It was actually the only other category that Best Picture winner nailed. She said doesn’t have the box office behind it that Spotlight had, and perhaps the tanking will hurt its chances, but that will come as the race stabilizes a bit more with some final contenders still yet to land.

3) The Glass Onion

Rian Johnson isn’t guaranteed much in life, but a nomination here, basically the same thing that happened to knives Out, seeems a foregone conclusion. he has written another complex and twisty murder mystery that critics adore, and while they may not know how to fit it in anywhere else, the writers branch is likely to reward him with their praises.

4) All Quiet On The Western Front

I think this one is sliding down the list. I’d feel a bit better about it, but as Netflix starts looking toward something like Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio that is also well received, the campaign money may shift. While the Oscar voters have been adding more international voters, I wonder how many they’ve been adding in the international race to really make a difference here for this adaptation.

5) The Whale

Darren Aronofsky’s film really still needs to land with general audiences for me to see how it will play out. Right now, what we’re talking about is a flat out snubbing by both the Spirit Awards and the NYFCC, neither of which build confidence.

6) Living

This Bill Nighy starrer isn’t really going anywhere in terms of momentum. I could see it not making the cut, as the film still feels like a small film to nominate, but at the same time it’s still possibly a little more prestigious than the next few closest films.

7) Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio

The Oscars love Del Toro, enough that Nightmare Alley managed a Best picture nomination last year. This thing is all but guaranteed to win Animated Feature at this point, but the Netflix question is how many other categories can they get it in? With it being the second Pinocchio adaptation of the year, can they even get someone to vote for it? Or does the writers branch feel held down by their strings. I suppose Del Toro can wish upon a star, right?

8) Top Gun Maverick

i can’t believe I continue to write about the legitimacy of this action sequel outside just the technical categories. But, with a ton of money logged, and a recent reissue this past week to capitalize one mor time before the film hits Paramount Plus right before Christmas, it seems like Maverick is gunning for as many nominations as possible.

9) Bones and All

This seems like a tough film to nominate. Each individual branch is going to have to get over certain subject matter, but for the writers branch, it might be a little easier to get over it from a screenwriting perspective. I’m still trying to figure out if Bones and All gets totally shut out, or if it can break in at least in one race. And if so, which one?

10) Catherine Called Birdie

There’s something rather repetitive and hilarious that Lena Dunham’s script has been recognized now twice by the Gotham and spirit Awards. I wonder if this is just an oddball left field choice that it will seem like no one saw coming, but really the writing was always a on the wall, and we just didn’t want it to be. Personally, I wouldn’t nominate this if I had a gun to my head, but that’s just one vote.

11) White Noise

Still yet to really drop and make an impact, White Noise lands on Netflix at the end of the year with the force of Noah Baumbach. Considering the overall reception for the film, I’ve ignored it in most categories, but for Adapted Screenplay, with Baumbach, I feel like there’s an outside chance at least.

12) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The light is dimming a bit as people aren’t having necessarily the same life changing reaction they had to the original. That could leave Wakanda Forever without a screenplay nomination.

13) The Son

One of the most divisive films of the year could get a breakthrough nomination still from the writers branch, if they appreciate the script enough. It’s not likely, but it could happen.

14) The Batman

Matt Reeves’s beloved adaptation from March seems destined to be forgotten, but if Warner Bros can throw their money at a campaign for it, perhaps the writers branch will remember how much they enjoyed a very different take on batman, and not just watching his parents die over and over.

15) Spoiler Alert! The Hero Dies At The End

I bet you thought I was going to pick Avatar. I could have, but the recent box office success of the adaptation of Michael Ausiello’s book makes me wonder if writers will laud an adaptation of a writer’s work. Ausiello is a well known entertainment journalist, and seeig this move up the list is more likely than down. It might be the films best shot at a nomination.

Original Screenplay:

1) The Fablemans

Despite a massive career in directing, Spielberg has written, or participated in writing, almost none of his films. So his deeply personal film seems like a lock for a nomination. Add to that, he wrote it with Tony Kushner, who has to be one of the most respected writers around, and i can’t see this being left off the list even if it doesn’t win.

2) Everything Everywhere All At Once

Arguably the most technically original piece of work, this one is also basically guaranteed a nomination. I can’t believe the writers branch would ignore this low budget multiverse bending emotional ride. It just doesn’t make any sense anywhere ever at all.

3) The Banshees Of inusharon

Martin McDonaugh had a problem getting a directors nomination last time for Three billboards, but the writers branch recognize his brilliance, and they’ll nominate him again.

4) Tar

This fake biopic is structured so well, people think Cate Blanchett is playing a real person, which is a testament to just how good Todd Field made this film. Tar is a critical darling, and I don’t see it missing out here.

5) Babylon

Damien Chazelle’s three hour biopic is the only one here I don’t feel like is a lock. It would have helped if the film had widespread praise, or hit more like Whiplash or La La Land and less like fist Man. I’m more concerned that Babylon performs like First Man, meaning it gets a lot less nominations than everyone thinks.

6) Decision To Leave

My similar thought here is how many International members have been added here to make Decision to Leve a viable contender here. The downside on this film in every major category is that its distributor is not a major one that is used to having Oscar bait. The fact this thing is tracking at all is entirely word of mouth. There’s a very real possibility it only gets International Feature, since campaigns matter.

7) Afterson

This little indie that could is starting to catch on at just the right time. It’s been picking up some of the earlier nominations it possibly can, and the more eyes it can put on itself the better. It has a shot at knocking out Babylon.

8) The Menú

So, everyone enjoyed this horror comedy, and it’s hard to campaign, so where does it fit in? Possibly in the 5th place spot? This one, and my next pick are hard to land in many categories due to subject matter, but often these things read on paper never seem quite as bad.

9) Triangle Of Sadness

Does reading about shitting and vomiting make this more accessible to the writers branch, or did enough of them see it? The film has good reviews, but so do the menu and bones and All. Sometimes, when you’re breaking the mold, you need more than good reviews.

10) Nope

One of the few categories this has a chance in. Jordan Peele has previously been recognized by the writers branch, so that can’t be discounted. I think he’s a long shot, but he’s in my top 15.

11) Elvis

This film is hanging on, and while it is a long shot in this category, it still has a shot. It’s much more likely to get some creative nominations to accompany Austin butler. Baz is such a visual storyteller, most people forget the screenplay. And this screenplay from Col. Parker’s point of view was actually divisive.

12) Armageddon Time

james Gray’s semi-autobiographical work hasn’t really caught on in major races yet, but if it does, this could move up a bit. It’s not that anyone dislikes the film, it seemingly just hasn’t registered.

13) Empire Of Light

It’s looking more and more like Sam mendes’s new movie gets totally shut out. It’s still a movie about he power of film, and with Oscar voters, that can never really be counted out.

14) RRR

Again, how many international voters? And, with Decision To Leave in the same category, could RRR even register? That’s a tough call. But, these last few spots are really long, long shots.

15) The Unberable Weight of Massive talent

Let’s just be honest. There are some great scripts the Oscar voters are overlooking this year. Personally, I’d encourage them to also take a hard look at Good Luck to You Leo grande, but there’s something about the brilliance of Massive Talent, a movie I’d love to see Nicolas Cage surprise the hell out of everyone this year with a nomination. My big hope is that the Globes will recognize Cage. But this was a blast of a film.

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