2013 Oscar Predictions: A January Visit to the Best Adapted and Original Screenplay Categories

Excerpt from the Lincoln Screenplay
Photo: DreamWorks Pictures

This Thursday, January 10, the 2013 Oscar nominations will be announced by the show's host, Seth MacFarlane, and Emma Stone at 5:30 a.m. PT and I need to do a little finalizing when it comes to my predictions before then and today I'm starting with the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay categories as I hadn't updated either for quite some time and some shuffling needed to be done.

At the end of last week the Writers Guild announced their nominees for the 2013 Writers Guild Awards and while several Oscar contending screenplays were ineligible for a variety of reasons, the nominations did give a few screenplays a little added attention. Screenplays such as those for Moonrise Kingdom, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looper and even Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master got a little needed attention as it has been fading in the polls as of late.

Directly below I offer my ranked predictions for each category along with a few additional thoughts and a link to where you can see the full field for both categories. Looking them over at this time, I think the only potential change before Thursday may be that fifth slot in the Original Screenplay category, though I'm just not sure Rian Johnson's screenplay for Looper can build enough steam. What do you think?

Original Screenplay

As far as I can tell, there is no serious competition when it comes to Mark Boal's screenplay for Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained, The Master and, increasingly, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola's screenplay for Moonrise Kingdom seem to be the most likely contenders for nominations. It's that fifth slot that always proves troublesome and at this point I see a fight between Flight and Looper, the latter of which has been picking up steam since being named Best Original Screenplay by the National Board of Review.

  1. Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
  2. Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained
  3. Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master
  4. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom
  5. John Gatins for Flight

You can browse all my contenders in Best Original Screenplay and their rankings right here.

Adapted Screenplay

Tony Kushner's screenplay for Lincoln remains the front-runner and I'm feeling rather confident in my follow-up predictions as well, though The Perks of Being a Wallflower is coming on pretty strong and I could see it picking off Les Miserables or Life of Pi, the latter of which seems most vulnerable.

  1. Tony Kushner, John Logan and Paul Webb for Lincoln
  2. Chris Terrio for Argo
  3. David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook
  4. William Nicholson for Les Miserables
  5. David Magee for Life of Pi

You can browse all my contenders in Best Adapted Screenplay and their rankings right here.

EXTRA: If you haven't done so yet, be sure to click here and browse my selection of 29 Oscar contending screenplays available to download for free.

  • http://www.criterion.com/my_criterion/27913-criterion10 Criterion10

    While I've seen the majority of the film in consideration, I haven't read any of the screenplays, and so it's hard for me to judge what should be nominated. Based on the films themselves, I would like to see Zero Dark Thirty and Looper score nominations in their respective categories.

    Still not sure if The Master will get in or not, but the other choices look pretty valid. I guess my question is, if the Academy does snub the film for Picture, Director, and maybe even some of the acting categories, will they still nominate Anderson for original screenplay? The same could apply to Django, although I do think that Django will get in most of the major categories.

  • Ron Oneal Fresh

    I saw ZDT, liked it. Wasn't blown away.

    Was there really great dialogue? or character development, dazzling storytelling. At many times I felt like i was watching someones research paper.

    I thought the direction was a lot more dazzling than the writing.

    There was a lot of information on the process on the hunt for Bin Laden, but was there anything presented that was all that astonishing?

    I just don't think it's all that spectacular.

    • BL

      I disagree completely.

      i felt like hurt locker was a pretty mediocre script and movie, but ZDT is incredibly effective as a piece of cinema. and 50% of that credit should rightly go through mark boal's script. there is a lot of information and research that went into it, and the streamlining of all that information into a compelling story was probably the hardest part of the process. i also wasn't blown away by the movie, but i can't deny that bigelow and boal were at the top of their respective games.

      the only annoyance i have is that zdt is considered an original screenplay. obviously it's not based on any written material but it's still not quite the same as the work all the other nominees had to do. boal started out with a chunk of marble and sculpted it into a script. tarantino, pta, and anderson and coppola had nothing but a blank page to start with.

      so anyway, basically. i think zdt did have dazzling storytelling. not the most original. but definitely very well made.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    I predict a strong showing for Moonrise come Thursday and I think The Master will fare much better than people are predicting. It's Django that I'm confused about. I don't know what to do with that one...

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

      I agree on The Master, Moonrise I feel like the Academy will ignore pretty completely. Django I see getting an acting nom, Picture (barely), Screenplay and a technical here or there

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        I have a hunch when it comes to Moonrise. The theater I saw it in was packed with the 60+ demo and they laughed consistently throughout. It was clear that they all really enjoyed it. Now I know that's not a lot to go on, but like I say, it's a hunch. I wouldn't be surprised if Wes Anderson ended up getting a Best Director nom.

        Call me crazy, but I've got Master down for Picture, Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and possibly Director.... that's a long shot, but it could happen.

        Like I say, I just don't feel comfortable putting Django down for Picture. It just doesn't feel right.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

          I agree with you. I have a feeling that Moonrise will do really well with the academy, and that Django doesn't feel right in a best picture lineup. Unfortunately, I think with The Master failing to get those guild noms, that it is fading fast, and will only get, based on my predictions, 3 or 4 noms. But, I wouldn't be that surprised to see that it got a boatload of nominations come Thursday morning.

        • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

          I think Moonrise will certainly get noms for Picture and Original Screenplay, but outside of that, I'm not sure what else it will get. Maybe there is a shot at Costumes or an outside chance of picking up a nom for Production Design or something, but it feels like a movie that will get overlooked outisde of those two major categories. And unfortunately for Wes Anderson, I am almost certain he is on the outside looking in as far as Director is concerned.

          And as for The Master, it seems to have fallen off the map quite fast and isn't finding much support with the guild groups, which certainly doesn't help its case. Now, I haven't seen the film, so I'm just working off of hunches and articles I've read, but I imagine it will receive nominations for Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, and Score, with a chance at an Actor nom for Joaquin Phoenix. Editing seems a decent possibility as well. Picture looks to be a more difficult call to make -- perhaps it gets in as the tenth film? -- and I think Director is all but out of reach for PTA. Maybe he winds up like Malick last year with a surprise nomination, but I'm not counting on it. The Director field is quite deep this year.

          I really feel Brad has the Best Picture field pretty much nailed with his predictions. He has the same 9 films I've got on my board -- an interesting coincidence, to say the least -- and the same 3 films in the 10-12 slots, albeit I have them in a slightly different order. The Master will likely be fighting with Amour for a possible tenth slot, unless Skyfall really picked up steam and wound up near the top of some ballots.

          Of course, I could very well be wrong, and maybe both The Master and Moonrise Kingdom have garnered more love from the Academy than I've given them credit for. For Moonrise's sake, I hope that's the case.

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            It's impossible to say. If you wanted to be safe, you'd go with Bigelow, Spielberg, Affleck, Hooper and Lee for director (making those the 5 front runners). But what about Russell? Does QT have a shot? Or will the Academy (as I'm predicting) do what they did last year and surprise by nominating Tree of Life for BOTH Picture and Director (in Malick's place it could be P.T. Anderson or Wes Anderson).

            As far as Amour for Picture; I don't see that film getting in. As far as the Academy is concerned, I don't think they seriously consider animated films or foreign language films for BP (although, of course, there have been exceptions). So I'd predict Skyfall & Django getting in before Amour.

            • http://hypethemovies.wordpress.com Jordan B.

              I agree with those 5 (Bigelow, Spielberg, Affleck, Hooper, Lee) as frontrunners for nominations as far as Director is concerned. As much as I want to see Russell get in, I've got him in my 6th slot, just missing out, and I've put PTA and Tarantino at 7th and 8th, respectively. I think the thing that makes it difficult to gauge, as far as PTA is concerned, is that there seems to be a great divide both on the film and on his directing. It is very much a "love it or loathe it" picture, and though that makes it similar to Tree of Life, I also think that there is more competition this year than there was last year. I'm not saying The Master or PTA absolutely will not get in, I just wouldn't count on it.

              And yes, I agree, I don't really think Amour will pull a nomination, but I do believe that there are some circles that will give it enough first-, second-, or third-place votes that it has an effect on the race. I would say the same for The Master. But I don't see either of them getting in, and I don't think Skyfall will have enough upper-ballot votes to garner it a nomination either. I feel like Django has a much stronger chance than either of those three, and would frankly be surprised if it didn't get a nomination.

              I've got The Master in my tenth slot, I just don't see it getting a nomination. But as I said I could very well be wrong. I'm certainly no expert, not in the least.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

          A hunch is a hunch. Far be it from me to challenge it. I just can't see it. I agree with you on The Master, although I say Director is a long shot right now. I can't challenge you for not feeling comfortable with Django, but I just don't feel I can leave it out. Although I have yet to see it (top of my list), I just feel enough support amongst the groups will make Django the 9th nominee, just below The Master, and Moonrise sitting out (whether Beasts should be nominated for Picture or not is a debate for another time)

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            My feeling on Django is this: Only 2 QT films have been nominated for Best Picture:

            Pulp Fiction - Now, you could easily write off this nomination on the basis that it was a film that was completely new and fresh. Nobody had really seen anything quite like it before. I think this is why it was nominated. But when it came right down to it, the Academy ended up doing what they've always done; they went with the safe choice (Forest Gump).

            Inglourious Basterds - At the time, Basterds was arguably QT's most critically lauded film since Pulp. So it had that going for it. Plus (and I think this was the determining factor) it had a WWII theme. Oscar LOVES WII. And once you add the fact that it was a Jewish revenge fantasy (in a heavily Jewish town) Basterds was too good for the Academy to pass up. But of course, when it came time, they didn't have the balls to give it anything (outside of Waltz, who's performance couldn't be denied).

            Factoring all this in, I think it's safe to say that the Academy is hardly Tarantino's biggest cheerleader. So when I think of Django, I think of it as a film that's filled with bloody and cartoonish violence, a film that derives it's inspiration from blaxsploitation cinema and a film that's too controversial to be recognized in any major way. Idk, I just don't see it happening. Of course, I'm probably wrong and on Thursday you'll most likely see it among the nominees, but that's just my thinking.

            As I say, I feel strongly that Moonrise is a lock for BP and I feel very good about Beasts.

            But the key questions are: Does Skyfall get in? And will there be 10 nominees?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

      I agree on Master and Moonrise and Master, but i think it will probably be Beasts of the Southern Wild that is left out. With it being ineligable for SAG and WGA, I just don't feel like it's in the conversation

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        See, I just don't think the Academy gives a shit about "the conversation." Extremely Loud was certainly not in the conversation last year. I think they just do their own thing. I don't think most Academy members follow buzz.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

          I see what you're saying. I guess you could call it a hunch, but 'Beasts' just feels like on dog those films that's snubbed by the academy. Right now, I have it down for Actress and Score.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Kessler/ Kessler

    The two I'm really rooting for to get in are Looper and Perks of Being a Wallflower.

  • Jack

    1. The Master
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    3. Django Unchained
    4. Moonrise Kingdom
    5. Amour

    1. Argo
    2. Lincoln
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Life of Pi
    5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

    My predictions are as follows:

    1. Zero Dark Thirty
    2. Moonrise Kingdom
    3. Django Unchained
    4. Looper
    5. The Master

    1. Lincoln
    2. Argo
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    5. Perks of Being a Wallflower

  • m1

    Original will be Zero Dark Thirty, Moonrise Kingdom, Django Unchained, Looper, and The Master. Adapted will be Argo, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Xarnis/ Xarnis

    1.Zero Dark Thirty
    2. The Master
    3. Django Unchained
    4. Moonrise Kingdom
    5. Looper

    1. Lincoln
    2. Argo
    3. Silver Linings Playbook
    4. Life of Pi
    5. Les Miserables

  • Chris138

    I think Perks has a shot at best adapted screenplay, but I don't think Les Miserables will make it. And even though I don't care for Looper, I think it'll show up in the best original screenplay category.

  • Geri

    I'm quite perplexed why "Les Miserables" is even a consideration. The movie is 99.5% songs from the play.

  • Newbourne

    I haven't seen many of "The Contenders" yet including Lincoln, Amour, Beasts or Moonrise Kingdom, but I thought it would be fun to fill up the awards categories with my favorites up until now:

    Django Unchained
    Killing Them Softly
    Life of Pi
    Silver Linings Playbook
    Zero Dark Thirty

    Ben Affleck- "Argo"
    Kathryn Bigelow- "Zero Dark Thirty"
    Andrew Dominik- "Killing Them Softly"
    Ang Lee- "Life of Pi"
    Quentin Tarantino- "Django Unchained"

    Mark Boal- "Zero Dark Thirty"
    Duplass Brothers- "Jeff who Lives at Home"
    John Gatins- "Flight"
    Quentin Tarantino- "Django Unchained"
    Craig Zobel- "Compliance"

    Andrew Dominik- "Killing Them Softly"
    David Magee- "Life of Pi"
    William Nicholson- "Les Miserables"
    David O. Russell- "Silver Linings Playbook"
    Chris Terrio- "Argo"

    Bradley Cooper- "Silver Linings Playbook"
    Hugh Jackman- "Les Miserables"
    Brad Pitt- "Killing Them Softly"
    Suraj Sharma- "Life of Pi"
    Denzel Washington- "Flight"

    Jessica Chastain- "Zero Dark Thirty"
    Jennifer Garner- "Butter"
    Jennifer Lawrence- "Silver Linings Playbook"
    Noomi Rapace- "Prometheus"
    Meryl Streep- "Hope Springs"

    Russel Crowe- "Les Miserables"
    Robert DeNiro- "Silver Linings Playbook"
    Leonardo DiCaprio- "Django Unchained"
    Samuel Jackson- "Django Unchained"
    Scoot McNairy- "Killing Them Softly"

    Ann Dowd- "Compliance"
    Judy Greer- "Jeff, who Lives at Home"
    Anne Hathaway- "Les Miserables"
    Kerry Washington- "Django Unchained"
    Emma Watson- "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Jennifer/ Jennifer

    I'm thinking of Perks as the little engine that could! Really, really hoping it can pull out a nomination. I read the screenplay yesterday and it's fantastic.