Hard to believe it's already that time of year again. The Oscars are right around the corner in 2013, and despite mine and your trepidations about the validity or the importance of the awards, the Academy Awards will always be an important celebration of cinema - important within the cinematic world that is. I am trying to get past my 72% guessing accuracy this time around, having gone 25 of 35 the last two years. As always, let's start with the screenplay nominations and, over the next few weeks, work out way through supporting and lead performances, directing, and Best Picture before the nominations are announced January 10th.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
As is always the case, there are a few shoe ins in any category, and Best Adapted Screenplay is no exception. The leader in the clubhouse has to be Argo, and the adapted screenplay from Chris Terrio. This should be one of a handful of nominations for Ben Affleck's third feature. Next in line, and not far behind Argo, is Tony Kushner's screenplay for Lincoln, based on the novel Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. The strength of Lincoln is in its dialogue, so this is a given nomination.
Beyond these two locks, I see four or five reasonable possibilities for the final three slots. David Magee's adaptation of Life of Pi, one of the best films of the year, should get recognition here if the film is to make a good push for Best Picture. The film which is picking up the most steam, the most buzz this awards season, has to be David O. Russell's adaptation of Silver Linings Playbook. Expect his screenplay to grab a nomination, leaving one final spot. This fifth spot should belong to Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Smaller independent movies tend to get easier recognition in the screenplay department, so I could see either Perks or Lucy Ailbar and Ben Zeitlin's screenplay for Beasts of The Southern Wild picking up the nom. But Beasts is less reliant on dialogue and more on performances, giving the edge to Perks in the end.
Chris Terrio - Argo
Tony Kushner - Lincoln
Davis Magee - Life of Pi
Stephen Chbosky - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
David O. Russell - Silver Linings Playbook
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Best Original Screenplay is clear cut in my opinion. There are a few outliers, but the strength of the top five is too much to overlook. Quentin Tarantino is a lock for Django Unchained and Mark Boal is for Zero Dark Thirty, as these two films are lining up to be the most nominated films of the year. Paul Thomas Anderson's obtuse and mystifying dream known as The Master should get the third slot, though I don't see a big chance at victory. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola's Moonrise Kingdom screenplay s a fan and critical favorite, though not a favorite of your humble narrator. The fifth spot is in flux, but Michael Haneke's Amour is in the midst of a groundswell at the moment and should get the fifth spot.
A few sleepers include Rian Johnson's mind-bending script for Looper and John Gatlins intense study of alcoholism in Flight. Though I think Flight's only nomination will belong to Denzel Washington.
Quentin Tarantino - Django Unchained
Mark Boal - Zero Dark Thirty
Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola - Moonrise Kingdom
Michael Haneke - Amour