While those of us Oscar predictors are scrambling our brains trying to figure out what will win Best Picture, another category that we still can’t wrap our heads around is Best Original Screenplay. What makes this category so crazy is that it’ll either be an indicator as to what wins Best Picture or it’ll be a consolation prize for a film that doesn’t win Best Picture. Usually, that’s how the screenplay categories work.
For instance, let’s look at each Original Screenplay category winner since 2000:
*indicates Best Picture winner
/ not nominated for Best Picture
2000- Almost Famous/
2001- Gosford Park
2002- Talk To Her/
2003- Lost In Translation
2004- Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind/
2006- Little Miss Sunshine
2009- The Hurt Locker*
2010- The King’s Speech*
2011- Midnight In Paris
2012- Django Unchained
2016- Manchester By The Sea
So, because 5 out of the 14 winners that were Best Picture nominees correlated with a Best Picture win, you can see that Original Screenplay tends to act as a consolation prize. Does this mean Get Out wins because it might not win Best Picture? What about Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? How about Lady Bird since it’s in danger of going home empty handed?
Well, for now, it looks like a race between Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Get Out has a slight advantage because it won at both Critic’s Choice and WGA and it benefits from being unlikely to win Best Picture. However, what benefits Three Billboards is that it has much broader support with its seven nominations and because writer/director Martin McDonagh was omitted from the Best Director lineup, this is a good place to reward him. Similarly, Get Out writer/director Jordan Peele, who is nominated for Best Director, is unlikely to win that category so this is the place to reward him as well.
Interestingly, Get Out prevailed over Three Billboards at the Critic’s Choice Awards and when it won at WGA, it benefitted from Three Billboards being ineligible. But when Three Billboards won Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes, it benefitted from Get Out being snubbed.
You also have Guillermo Del Toro and Vanessa Taylor nominated for The Shape Of Water but Del Toro is the frontrunner for Best Director which makes it less likely he’ll win here. Also, if The Shape Of Water wins Best Picture, then it is taken care of with at least one above the line prize which is needed in order to win Best Picture. Either a win in directing, an acting category, writing, and/or editing is necessary. So, if The Shape Of Water were to win Director and a few tech prizes, then it won’t need much else to prevail.
But once again, what about Lady Bird? It is in danger of going home empty handed since Greta Gerwig hasn’t won a precursor and both Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are having a tough time prevailing in their respective categories. Because this year’s Oscar race has been all about celebrating women in film, do they really want to risk having a female-driven film written and directed by a woman end up with nothing on Oscar night?
Also, if Martin McDonagh prevails over both Gerwig and Jordan Peele, does the Academy really want to take a risk and create negative headlines by rewarding the sole white male in the entire category? Yes, artists should be judged by merit and not gender or ethnicity. But if Martin McDonagh were to win over his more diverse competition, the Oscars would be in danger of creating a Grammys-style backlash. Especially when you consider how Three Billboards is the Best Picture contender that took the biggest beating this awards season for its depiction of racism and of its female characters.
If Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri wins Original Screenplay at the BAFTA Awards, it’ll still be a two-person race but if, say, The Shape Of Water wins, then it’ll just make the race even crazier. I mean, Birdman was already taken care of with a Best Director win so it could win Best Picture but it still won Original Screenplay as well. If voters REALLY love The Shape Of Water, it could be a spoiler in Screenplay as well or Lady Bird as a consolation prize. Honestly, a case could be made for any film in this category aside from The Big Sick which is just happy to be there since it’s the film’s only nomination.
So going into Oscar night, we’ll be wondering whether Get Out will win a consolation Screenplay award or Three Billboards will win as either a consolation prize or an indication of a Best Picture win.
What do you guys think will prevail? Will it be Get Out or Three Billboards? Do you think Lady Bird can still prevail? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!