2013 Oscars: Best Original Screenplay

Michael Haneke (Amour)
Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained)
John Gatins (Flight)
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)

The line between original and adapted screenplays is often a blurry one. For instance, O Brother Where Art Thou wound up in the adapted category, as an adaptation of The Odyssey. As it turned out, neither of the Coen brothers (who wrote it) had ever read the book, and only added some details they had heard in passing. But in the adapted category it remained, even though original screenplays have stolen more.

Usually, with a fixed number of nominees, the writing categories allow the Academy to expand their Oscars field a bit, but unfortunately that really wasn’t the care this year. The two biggest omissions from this category are The Avengers and Looper. Joss Whedon pulled off the near-impossible with The Avengers, bringing together nearly a dozen characters with their own motivations and back-stories while making a compelling action adventure. Looper was an allegory of morality that has been overlooked and passed over as a simple shoot em up flick.

I’m on record with my thoughts of Amour already. Though a well-acted and well-directed film, the writing was the poorest part of the production. Haneke simply provided us with a life sucks, then you die story with little point or any silver lining of any kind. But it will be in play because people seem to think it’s Oscars bait, and with little chance for Best Pictures, it’s likely to grab another Oscars category.

Of the other four, it’s hard to pick a true winner. Tarantino’s Django was fun, but lacked overall focus and needed to be tightened up. Boal’s research for ZDT was meticulous and his creation of Maya as a focus character was something outstanding. Moonrise Kingdom was cute, and had a variety of terrific characters, while Flight has one primary character who was very well developed and virtually walked of the screen.

Unfortunately, only one can win at the 2013 Oscars. I’d pick Zero Dark Thirty, but it’s likely a no-go thanks to the torture controversy. Django is unlikely as well, thanks it controversies of its own which will likely split the vote.

Who will win: Michael Haneke, Amour
Who should win: Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty