Okay, so Boal v. Tarantino might not be as glamorous as Bullock v. Streep...but this is still a real race well worth discussing.
I should start by stating that this is one category in which I would have certainly NOT voted for The Hurt Locker...had (500) Days of Summer been on the ballot. I'm thankful we were spared Avatar and The Hangover, but Summer was, for me, the year's best original by far, and its omission is disappointing.
But on to the nominees -- despite an overall good field, I think three of these are pretty much out of the running.
The Messenger's box office would seem to put it out of the running entirely. I bet a good number of voters haven't even seen it.
Without the Best Picture expansion, A Serious Man would have this nomination only. Given the Coens' triple-whammy two years ago, I doubt voters will feel any need to reward them again so soon for such a polarizing effort.
And if the more-beloved WALL-E couldn't triumph over a much weaker field, I don't think Up has much of a chance.
I'm actually glad Inglourious Basterds wasn't eligible for the WGA -- it makes this race more exciting. And I think the film's got a real shot, mostly based on the fact that, as in '94, Tarantino made a singular, popular picture, but won't be winning Best Director for it. Plus, his knack for dialogue and the fact that Basterds is nothing if not wildly original also boost his chances. Cons? Well, mainly the fact that, structurally, Basterds is a little unwieldy.
The WGA-winning Hurt Locker isn't exactly a writer-centric film...but plenty of Best Picture winners have snatched up screenplay trophies on sheer momentum (The Return of the King being a recent example.) Even The Pianist, which didn't end up taking the big prize, won a writing trophy over more "literary" competition based on overall enthusiasm. At the moment, I'm leaning toward predicting Hurt Locker, but the race seems close enough that I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this category.
I don't personally have a strong preference between Hurt Locker and Basterds in this category, but I'm half-way inclined to root for Basterds just so we won't end up with the SIXTH straight year of Oscar-WGA correlation in both writing categories (assuming Up in the Air clinched the Adapted trophy a while ago.)
Also, doesn't it seem somewhat within the realm of possibility that Oscars for Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Adapted Screenplay could go to four different films? (Avatar, Hurt Locker, Basterds, and Up in the Air, respectively.) I won't be predicting it, but...I wouldn't rule it out either.
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