Oscars 2018 Category Breakdown: Best Original Screenplay
So what we do here each year as a warm up for the Oscars is, I break down each of the 24 categories. The idea is to both familiarize everyone with the category and its history. I look at what the major trends are throughout the past bunch of years, how the precursors tend to go, whether they matter or not, that sort of stuff. I look at how the category came to be this year, and just anything else that seems totally pertinent about it. Then I rank each of the nominees and tell you what their likelihood (at this particular moment in time) of winning is.
This is all prelude to my giant Oscar ballot that I’m gonna give you. But I figure, if you have these as the warmup, it’s not as intimidating. You’ll have seen a lot of the pertinent trends here and we’ll all be able to reference these as a sort of cheat sheet. Plus it shows you where my head is at for how I think each of the categories are gonna go, and you can see me working my way up to all the bad decisions I usually make while guessing. Pretty much, with this, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the category is gonna turn out.
Today is Best Original Screenplay. One of the more interesting categories of the year. It’s a toss up, but it’s an interesting toss up.
|Year||Best Original Screenplay Winners||Other Nominees|
|1940||The Great McGinty||Angels over Broadway
Dr. Erlich’s Magic Bullet
The Great Dictator
|1941||Citizen Kane||The Devil and Miss Jones
Tall, Dark and Handsome
Tom, Dick and Harry
|1942||Woman of the Year||One of Our Aircraft Is Missing
Road to Morocco
The War Against Mrs. Hadley
|1943||Princess O’Rourke||Air Force
In Which We Serve
The North Star
So Proudly We Hail!
|1944||Wilson||Hail the Conquering Hero
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
Two Girls and a Sailor
Wing and a Prayer
Music for Millions
What Next, Corporal Hargrove?
|1946||The Seventh Veil||The Blue Dahlia
Children of Paradise
Road to Utopia
|1947||The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer||Body and Soul
A Double Life
|1948||No Award Given.||No category.|
|1949||Battleground||Jolson Sings Again
Passport to Pimlico
The Quiet One
|1950||Sunset Boulevard||Adam’s Rib
No Way Out
|1951||An American in Paris||Ace in the Hole
David and Bathsheba
Go for Broke!
|1952||The Lavender Hill Mob||The Atomic City
The Sound Barrier
Pat and Mike
|1953||Titanic||The Band Wagon
The Desert Rats
The Naked Spur
Take the High Ground!
|1954||On the Waterfront||The Barefoot Contessa
The Glenn Miller Story
Knock on Wood
|1955||Interrupted Melody||The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
It’s Always Fair Weather
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday
The Seven Little Foys
|1956||The Red Balloon||The Bold and the Brave
|1957||Designing Woman||Funny Face
Man of a Thousand Faces
The Tin Star
|1958||The Defiant Ones||The Goddess
|1959||Pillow Talk||The 400 Blows
North by Northwest
|1960||The Apartment||The Angry Silence
The Facts of Life
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Never on Sunday
|1961||Splendor in the Grass||Ballad of a Soldier
La Dolce Vita
General della Rovere
Lover Come Back
|1962||Divorce, Italian Style||Freud
Last Year at Marienbad
That Touch of Mink
Through a Glass Darkly
|1963||How the West Was Won||8 ½
The Four Days of Naples
Love with the Proper Stranger
|1964||Father Goose||A Hard Day’s Night
One Potato, Two Potato
That Man from Rio
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
|1966||A Man and a Woman||Blowup
The Fortune Cookie
The Naked Prey
|1967||Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner||Bonnie and Clyde
Divorce American Style
La Guerre Est Finie
Two for the Road
|1968||The Producers||2001: A Space Odyssey
The Battle of Algiers
|1969||Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid||Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
The Wild Bunch
|1970||Patton||Five Easy Pieces
My Night at Maud’s
|1971||The Hospital||Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Summer of ‘42
Sunday Bloody Sunday
|1972||The Candidate||The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Lady Sings the Blues
Murmur of the Heart
|1973||The Sting||American Graffiti
Cries and Whispers
Save the Tiger
A Touch of Class
|1974||Chinatown||Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Day for Night
Harry and Tonto
|1975||Dog Day Afternoon||Amarcord
And Now My Love
Lies My Father Told Me
|1977||Annie Hall||The Goodbye Girl
The Late Show
The Turning Point
|1978||Coming Home||Autumn Sonata
The Deer Hunter
An Unmarried Woman
|1979||Breaking Away||All That Jazz
…And Justice for All
The China Syndrome
|1980||Melvin and Howard||Brubaker
Mon oncle d’Amerique
|1981||Chariots of Fire||Absence of Malice
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
An Officer and a Gentleman
|1983||Tender Mercies||The Big Chill
Fanny and Alexander
|1984||Places in the Heart||Beverly Hills Cop
Broadway Danny Rose
|1985||Witness||Back to the Future
The Official Story
The Purple Rose of Cairo
|1986||Hannah and Her Sisters||Crocodile Dundee
My Beautiful Laundrette
|1987||Moonstruck||Au revoir, les enfants
Hope and Glory
A Fish Called Wanda
Running on Empty
|1989||Dead Poets Society||Crimes and Misdemeanors
Do the Right Thing
Sex, Lies and Videotape
When Harry Met Sally…
|1991||Thelma & Louise||Boyz N the Hood
The Fisher King
|1992||The Crying Game||Husbands and Wives
In the Line of Fire
Sleepless in Seattle
|1994||Pulp Fiction||Bullets Over Broadway
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Three Colors: Red
|1995||The Usual Suspects||Braveheart
Secrets & Lies
|1997||Good Will Hunting||As Good as It Gets
The Full Monty
|1998||Shakespeare in Love||Bulworth
Life is Beautiful
Saving Private Ryan
The Truman Show
|1999||American Beauty||Being John Malkovich
The Sixth Sense
|2000||Almost Famous||Billy Elliot
You Can Count on Me
The Royal Tenenbaums
|2002||Talk to Her||Far from Heaven
Gangs of New York
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Y tu mama también
|2003||Lost in Translation||The Barbarian Invasions
Dirty Pretty Things
|2004||Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind||The Aviator
|2005||Crash||Good Night, and Good Luck
The Squid and the Whale
|2006||Little Miss Sunshine||Babel
Letters from Iwo Jima
|2007||Juno||Lars and the Real Girl
|2009||The Hurt Locker||Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
|2010||The King’s Speech||Another Year
The Kids Are All Right
|2011||Midnight in Paris||The Artist
Zero Dark Thirty
Dallas Buyers Club
The Grand Budapest Hotel
|2015||Spotlight||Bridge of Spies
Straight Outta Compton
|2016||Manchester by the Sea||20th Century Women
Hell or High Water
La La Land
|2017||Get Out||The Big Sick
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
So I think we all know how to adjudicate this one. The WGA is the big precursor, and then BAFTA and BFCA. The WGA is rife with ineligible scripts (and we have one of those this year), so it only goes so far. But generally you have a good idea about the Screenplay categories just by looking at them.
Here’s the WGA’s recent history in this one:
- 2017: Get Out wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2016: Moonlight wins WGA Original and won the Oscar for Adapted. So I guess they were right?
- 2015: Spotlight wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2014: Birdman is ineligible for the WGA and wins the Oscar. The Grand Budapest Hotel wins WGA Original.
- 2013: Her wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2012: Django Unchained is ineligible for the WGA and wins the Oscar. Zero Dark Thirty wins WGA Original.
- 2011: Midnight in Paris wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2010: The King’s Speech is ineligible for the WGA and wins the Oscar. Inception wins WGA Original.
- 2009: The Hurt Locker wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2008: Milk wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2007: Juno wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2006: Little Miss Sunshine wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2005: Crash wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2003: Lost in Translation wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2002: The WGA winner and the Oscar winner were not nominated in the other’s category. So this one’s a blank.
- 2001: Gosford Park wins both WGA Original and the Oscar.
- 2000: You Can Count on Me wins WGA Original and Almost Famous wins the Oscar.
It’s interesting to know that the last time the WGA Original winner lost the Oscar to something that was eligible at WGA was 2000. Good to know. But also, we have an ineligible this year, so this doesn’t help us that much.
Looking at BAFTA now, they are 11/18. In the seven misses, the Oscar winner was nominated six of those times (Her is the only Oscar winner that wasn’t nominated at BAFTA). So they were just wrong five of those times.
BFCA, meanwhile, split their Screenplay categories in 2009, and since then are 8/9. The only miss was 2009, where they took Quentin, who ended up losing the Oscar to The Hurt Locker. Otherwise they’re 8/8. Though pretty sure that streak ends this year.
Oh, and before we get into this year’s category — here’s a list of all the times the Best Picture winner did not win Best Screenplay (either category):
- 2017, The Shape of Water loses to Get Out.
- 2011, The Artist loses to Midnight in Paris.
- 2004, Million Dollar Baby loses to Sideways.
- 2002, Chicago loses to The Pianist.
- 2000, Gladiator loses to Almost Famous.
- 1997, Titanic isn’t even nominated.
- 1996, The English Patient loses to Sling Blade.
- 1995, Braveheart loses to The Usual Suspects.
- 1992, Unforgiven loses to The Crying Game.
- 1986, Platoon loses to Hannah and Her Sisters.
- 1978, The Deer Hunter loses to Coming Home.
- 1976, Rocky loses to Network.
- 1968, Oliver! loses to The Lion in Winter.
- 1965, The Sound of Music isn’t even nominated.
- 1964, My Fair Lady loses to Becket.
- 1962, Lawrence of Arabia loses to To Kill a Mockingbird.
- 1961, West Side Story loses to Judgment at Nuremberg.
- 1959, Ben-Hur loses to Room at the Top.
- 1952, The Greatest Show on Earth isn’t even nominated.
- 1949, All the King’s Men loses to A Letter to Three Wives.
- 1948, Hamlet isn’t even nominated.
- 1947, Gentleman’s Agreement loses to Miracle on 34th Street.
- 1941, How Green Was My Valley loses to Here Comes Mr. Jordan.
- 1940, Rebecca loses to The Philadelphia Story.
- 1938, You Can’t Take It With You loses to Pygmalion.
- 1936, The Great Ziegfeld isn’t even nominated. (Though there was only one Screenplay category. Also, the nominees were The Story of Louis Pasteur, After the Thin Man, Dodsworth, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town and My Man Godfrey. That’s awesome.)
- 1935, Mutiny on the Bounty loses to The Informer.
- 1932-1933, Cavalcade isn’t even nominated.
- 1931-1932, Grand Hotel isn’t even nominated.
- 1929-1930, All Quiet on the Western Front loses to The Big House.
- 1928-1929, The Broadway Melody isn’t even nominated.
- 1927-1928, Wings isn’t even nominated.
32 times out of 90 Best Picture winners. Just something to note, is all.
Best Original Screenplay
This was a category where you had four locks all the way through — The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice — and the fifth spot was totally up for grabs. It was First Reformed vs. Eighth Grade vs. A Quiet Place. BFCA swung for the fences by giving First Reformed the award, so that probably was the big sign that it was gonna get on. I figured A Quiet Place just because I figured it would get a Sound nomination, but in the end, nothing too surprising.
In terms of precursors, WGA announced on Sunday, so we’ve got everything we’re gonna get.
- WGA: Eighth Grade
- BAFTA: The Favourite
- BFCA: First Reformed
Oh, and I guess Green Book won the Globe for Screenplay. They have a single category and are 12/18 going back to 2000. And three of the six misses came in the past three consecutive years. So there’s that too.
I think we’ve got everything we need to make a ruling on this.
5. Vice — McKay won this for The Big Short. Don’t think Vice is as liked as that was, even though it has more overall nominations. I can’t see anyone feeling the need to vote for this, even though I assume that with eight overall nominations it may get a few votes. Still, seems like an easy fifth or fourth at best.
4. First Reformed — I know BFCA gave it a win, but it was a somewhat surprise nominee, has no other nominations, and has four Best Picture nominees up against it. Can’t see this being anything higher than fourth choice. Didn’t even get nominated at the guild, so I can’t see enough support for a win here at all. That BFCA win only goes so far.
3. Roma — From here on out you have the Best Picture favorites. That’s a 65% chance right there that it’ll come in, and that’s before you look at precursors and think about it logically. I don’t necessarily think this is a real contender here, but if it might win Best Picture, it’s a contender. I know that there wasn’t really a script here. But they wrote one up, and they sent it out to the Academy in both English and Spanish, so that will earn it a bit of support. I don’t think I can put it higher than third, and probably would have seen it as a fourth choice if the other two weren’t ones I didn’t think really had a chance at it. Hard to see this as a major contender though, without any precursors.
2. Green Book — So it’s in the WGA category, where The Favourite is ineligible. Even if it won that category, I’d have still questioned whether or not it could beat The Favourite for the Oscar. And it loses. To Eighth Grade, which isn’t even nominated. That is very puzzling. But it also means that I can’t consider it the favorite, because it didn’t even win its own guild. And all it has going into Oscar night is the Globe.
1. The Favourite — It won BAFTA and was ineligible for the WGA. Most years that spells an automatic winner. This year, it’ still gonna be in a 50/50 tossup with Green Book until the end. Green Book losing the WGA should have made it very obvious that this is gonna win. But you know what? Green Book can still win Best Picture. It has the PGA, and it’s definitely something that could win. Theoretically The Favourite could too, but I don’t see any precursor support there. But Green Book, if it’s going to win Best Picture, it’s going to win Screenplay. That’s usually how that goes. I can’t see it winning one without the other. I just can’t. So that’s why, no matter how much this looks like The Favourite winning here, I’m not gonna call it. But The Favourite is the likely winner. I think we can all see that one pretty plainly.
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