2018 Oscars: Original Screenplay

Okay it’s February, which means it’s time to talk Oscars. The winter Olympics gives us an extra week this year, so my annual Oscar coverage will be coming to you Mondays and Thursdays from now until the big day on March 4. Then it’ll be time to put the blog on vacation for a bit and write something else for a while.

Next up…

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – NOMINEES
“The Big Sick,” Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Martin McDonagh

Who will win: Get Out
Who could win: Lady Bird
Who should win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who should be here: “Wind River,” Taylor Sheridan

Well, here’s something refreshing: Out of five Best Picture nominees who also got nods for writing, four of them came out of the Original category. In a Hollywood that’s oft-criticized for too many remakes, reboots, retellings, prequels, sequels, side-quels…it’s nice to see originality recognized on the industry’s biggest night.

It’s also created something of a conundrum for Oscar predictors (such as yours truly), in that any film in the category could actually take home the award. Only The Big Sick wasn’t nominated for The Big Prize, and Hollywood isn’t likely to just completely shove the film aside, given that it’s probably the most original romantic comedy in years, as well as written by an Asian man and a woman. In the age of #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite, that’s a hard pairing to pass up.

But passed up they shall be, likely in favor of Get Out, which is riding on a wave of timely social activism. The best part of Get Out was in its writing, which was clever and interesting, and riffed both on the current social climate as well as horror tropes (I have issues with the execution and ending, but I’m also not a horror guy). Given the conversation it started and the fact that it’s highly unlikely it’ll take home an award anywhere else, I’d expect to see Jordan Peele get a gold statue for this one.

Its biggest competition is likely to be Lady Bird which, like The Big Sick, breathed some new life into the Coming of Age story. One of the things I found so interesting about Gerwig’s script is that, like a teenager, it didn’t spend a lot of time focused on one specific thing. Lady Bird herself was into any number of different stories and characters, and whatever she was focused on at the time was THE MOST DRAMATIC THING EVER. But then we cut, and she was on to something else. The film really felt like it came from a teenager’s point of view, rather than the typical angsty melodrama we usually get from the drama.

My personal favorite of the five is Three Billboards, because I loved how the characters could have such massive disagreements with each other, but then still have empathy for each other, maintain the conversation and at the end of the day, live together and stay friends. You don’t see a lot of that in the discussion of the film, and it’s an interesting message that should be resonating more in the world today.

Ultimately, Taylor Sheridan should have found a place among these five. His neo-Westerns have been so good that I’ll basically go see anything that he’s involved in at this point. If you haven’t seen Wind River, you’re missing out.