Each Friday until the end of April, I'll be adding new categories to the sidebar with accompanying articles. In the spirit of the filmmaking process, the category order will be based on the order of steps of making a movie. "Loosely" based, at least. There's nothing about these early guesses that isn't completely loosey goosey anyway. But one thing we can assume with some degree of certainty is that most films start with a screenplay, so too will that be our starting point.
First off, even though some pundits have already read many of 2015's buzz-
worthy scripts, landing a nomination depends much more on how well the film is received overall than on the calibre of the writing. It makes spitballing these categories as much of a crapshoot as Best Picture, but there are some distant Best Original Screenplay contenders that certainly look promising enough on paper.
Take Steven Spielberg's October-slated Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies. The Coen brothers were brought in to work on Matt Charman's original draft, and the genre is probably more their speed than the stodgy WWII epic Unbroken.
Then there's Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. His last foray into the Western genre won him his second Academy Award. That recent win may work against him here, or it be that his inimitable style is simply catnip to the writers branch, you will happily nominate him again given the chance.
Another filmmaker looking to make good on recent momentum is David O. Russell, who probably came this close to winning for American Hustle, which ultimately went 0-for-10 (ouch!). He's back this winter with Joy, and he's bringing Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids scribe Annie Mumolo along for the ride.
Is fourth time the charm for Russell?
The works of Gus Van Sant aren't always awards magnets, but he's had a couple of real hits with Good Will Hunting and Milk, each winning a pair of Oscars including Best Original Screenplay. Could Chris Sparling's The Sea of Trees -- about two men in the "Suicide Forest" of Japan -- follow suit?
It feels like Pixar is due for a comeback in this race. It's hard to believe that the studio followed up four consecutive writing noms (from 2008-2011) with duds like Cars 2 and Monsters U, but they're back with two original films this year; Pete Docter's Inside Out, and The Good Dinosaur, conceived by Bob Peterson who was later removed from his own brainchild... trouble in the water?
Also consider: Aloha, Demolition, Everest, Freeheld, Irrational Man, Mistress America, Ricki and the Flash, That's What I'm Talking About
Check back later today for my blind stabs at the Best Adapted Screenplay playing field.