Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscar Nomination Surprises

Last week, ScripTipps correctly predicted four out of five of the Oscar nominees in the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay categories.

How'd we do it?

First, we looked at which scripts were getting the most nominations from five other major award organizations, which revealed a clear Top 9. Then we added a wild-card guess in each category.


DALLAS BUYERS CLUB nominated for Best Original Screenplay Oscar
For originals, we expected the fifth slot might go to the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis (with BAFTA and Critics' Choice nods) over AIDS drama Dallas Buyers Club (only in the WGA race), then guessed Gravity would pull an upset over both. Instead, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB got the nod.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar
On the adapted side, we predicted August: Osage County would edge out CAPTAIN PHILLIPS. Wrong again.


Between the two screenplay categories there are ten nominated scripts, but only nine films nominated for Best Picture. Discrepancies: Woody Allen's BLUE JASMINE (original screenplay nominee) and Richard Linklater's BEFORE MIDNIGHT (adapted screenplay nominee) were left off the Best Picture list, while GRAVITY is the only Best Picture nominee without a screenplay nomination.
GRAVITY nominated for Best Picture Oscar but not for Best Screenplay
In the last 50 years, only The Sound of Music (1965) and Titanic (1997) have won Best Picture without screenplay nominations, so Gravity has an uphill battle, though it does have nominations for its direction and editing, and tied 12 Years a Slave for most nominations, which are all historically also strong indicators of a winner.


Spec sales are dinosaurs. Hollywood loves recycling proven ideas from books, comic books, TV shows, plays, foreign films, and old classics. Do they hate original screenplays?

For the first time in seven years, the Best Picture category favors the written-directly-for-the-screen types, with 5 originals and 4 adaptations vying for the top prize. In each of the last two years, the split was 6 adaptations and 3 originals, while it was evenly split in 2010 and 2011, the first two years of the expanded Best Picture category.
THE DEPARTED, a remake, won Best Picture Oscar in 2007, beating four movies with original screenplays
In 2009, when there were still only five Best Picture nominees, 80% of them were adaptations. But in 2007, it was the other way around, when THE DEPARTED, a remake of Hong Kong's Internal Affairs trilogy, beat out four originals.


The writers branch of the Academy picks the screenwriting nominations. All Academy members in the writers branch are presumably WGA members, but not all WGA members are invited to the Academy. Also, the WGA has different eligibility rules, so 12 Years a Slave and Philomena were both ineligible for WGA nominations.
LONE SURVIVOR nominated for WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Therefore, in the adapted category, the two disqualified adapted scripts left room for WGA nominations for August: Osage County and LONE SURVIVOR. The current hit Navy SEAL flick did get two Oscar nominations in technical categories, the same number as The Lone Ranger and The Great Gatsby. (Ranger also picked up five Razzie nominations yesterday, including Worst Screenplay.)

For Best Original Screenplay, all five WGA nominees also get to go to the Oscars.

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