Ok, with the nominees announced, let’s pick some winners, friends!
Over five columns, I’ll be predicting who I think will win all of the Oscars. Today, we look at the screenplay categories. I’ll be giving you who I think will win, who I think should win, who could be the upset special, and who I would have liked to see in the list of nominees. Because I am a fair and just ruler, when I mention a film that I thought was snubbed, I will remove a nominee from the list.
First, let me explain what I did last year about how the screenplay credits are listed, because I think this is a lot of fun while some people (namely my wife- or, in honor of Borat being nominated, MY WIFE!) find this tedious and boring. When you look at screenwriters who are nominated, sometimes you will see an ampersand while other times you will see the word “and”. This is not some stupid fancy flourish; there’s a reason this is done.
So, why is this done? When you see ampersands, that designates that the people have all worked together as a writing team. When you see the word “and”, it means that each writer has worked on different drafts separately. So, if a film is written by “A and B & C”, it means A worked on one draft of the film, while the writing team of B & C worked on another. Cool, right?
Ready? Let’s get cracking!
Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery Of Prodigous Bride To American Regime To Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan (Sasha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern)
The Father (Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller)
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao)
One Night In Miami (Kemp Powers)
The White Tiger (Ramin Bahrani)
WHO WILL (AND WHO SHOULD WIN: I would make these separate paragraphs, except this is going to be one of the cases where the person who will win should be the winner. With Nomadland, Chloé Zhao gives us a heartbreaking look at a group (led by the insanely perfect Frances McDormand) as they travel America just looking to survive. It’s a script that’s touching and delicate and shows us just how amazing the blue collar workers are in this country as well as how badly we, as a nation, have failed them.
THE UPSET SPECIAL: The Academy likes to have some fun sometimes, so do not be surprised if Sasha Baron Cohen and the team from Borat Subsequent Moviefilm all get to rush the stage on Oscar night to accept an award. This script is whip-smart and funny as hell and is definitely deserving of an Oscar. We’ll see if enough people think the same way I do and pull off a surprise.
WHO DESERVED TO BE NOMINATED?: I really loved what Charlie Kaufman did with I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, and in my little Oscar world, that film is in while The White Tiger is out. Kaufman is a master of weird and wonderful and making you wonder which end is up. I’m still not sure I understand his newest film, but I sure do love talking about it.
Best Original Screenplay
Judas and the Black Messiah (Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas)
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung)
Promising Young Woman (Emerald Fennell)
Sound Of Metal (Darius Marder & Abraham Marder)
The Trial Of The Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin)
WHO WILL WIN: First off, this list of nominees is STACKED. Every one of these films are so wonderful and driven by a clever and interesting screenplay and I would not be upset if any of them win. But I think Aaron Sorkin takes home his second Oscar with The Trial Of The Chicago 7. Snubbed in the directing category, Sorkin’s script here just fucking cruises and moves. Granted, it helps when you had the amazing cast this film does, but this cast also benefits from a Sorkin script that is as good as anything he’s written in a long, long time. Expect him to be holding the trophy at the end of the night.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Again, this is a cornucopia of amazing writers turning in amazing work, so I could honestly pull a name out of a hat and write about why they deserve to be holding the Oscar. That said, I think I would have given the award to Emerald Fennell and her debut, Promising Young Woman. When this film cuts, it’s a goddamned scimitar and Fennell knows how to make every slice and stab do the most damage. However, this film is more than just a rampage, it’s also smart enough to get it’s message across. This film forces your engagement, and that was the hardest thing for me to find in a movie this year.
THE UPSET SPECIAL: Man, this just feels like Sorkin’s to lose. But watch out for Fennell. Also would not be surprised to see Minari win as the start of a really big night for that movie, which is just so touching and dear.
WHO DESERVED TO BE NOMINATED?: This is hard, because I really don’t want to see any of these movies off the list. However, if I had to, I would put Palm Springs on there because it was such a clever and sweet script that absolutely floored me. Called by some as just a shell of Groundhog’s Day, this film did a whole lot for me and left me with a big ol’ smile in my heart. I know Sorkin will probably win another Oscar, so I’ll bump him off and hope that Palm Springs gets more people giving it a view.