- War Horse – Richard Curtis, Lee Hall (based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo)The writers of Four Weddings and a Funeral AND Billy Elliot team up for Steven Spielberg's emotional war film ? Damn...why not just give them the award already ?
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Steven Zaillian (based on the novel by Stieg Larsson)He could have an excellent year with this AND Moneyball, but the pressure is on : adapting such a succesful novel would be difficult already, but do it ONE YEAR after the same book's first film version came out ? Now THAT's a challenge...and if he nails it, he will be probably rewarded in a big way.
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Eric Roth (based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer)He is one of the most acclaimed screenwriters today (Forrest Gump, The Insider, Munich, The Curious case of Benjamin Button), add Daldry and his excellent track record, the wonderful source material, and he could be in it to win it. ESPECIALLY if the Academy decides that it's time to give Daldry the big one.
- The Descdendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming)He is an Academy-favourite, so he is automatically in the race, he also had great source material to work with, so at this point, it seems highly unlikely he could get ignored.
- Carnage – Roman Polanski, Yasmina Reza (based on the play by Yasmina Reza)
- A Dangerous Method – Christopher Hampton (based on his own play)He is a remarkably talented writer and the fact that he is adapting his own play helps his case, too. If the film becomes a top player (picture, director, acting categories), there is no way he will be left off. The question is : will the Academy FINALLY 'get' Cronenberg ?
- Hugo Cabret – John Logan (based on the novel by Brian Selznick)He is a double threat this year, although the Scorsese-film does look like the safer bet in the long run.
- Coriolanus – John Logan (based on the play by William Shakespeare)He is a good screenwriter (Aviator, Gladiator, Sweeney Todd), so I have no doubt that he did a great job with this, too ('Berlin-word' backs it up, too), I'm just not sure the film will be big enough in the end.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Steve Kloves (based on the novel by J.K. Rowling)A critically acclaimed (Those Fabulous Baker Boys) AND Oscar-nominated (Wonder Boys) screenwriter who adapted 7 (!) of the 8 HP-books WITHOUT a co-writer, so on a second thought, it might not be THAT far-fetched to think that the Academy MIGHT want to recognize his outstanding contribution to the highest grossing franchise of all time. He is definitely one of the reasons the Harry Potter films were so consistent with critics and that should be worth rewarding.
- Wuthering Heights – Olivia Hetreed (based on the novel by Emily Bronte)She did a great job with The Girl with a Pearl Earring and if she could deliver the same quality here, under the brilliant Andrea Arnold's direction, this might just emerge as THE British-film of the Awards Season.
- The Ides of March – George Clooney, Grant Heslov (based on the play by Beau Willimon)The 'Good Night, and Good Luck' duo is back and that definitely sounds promising already.
- Moneyball – Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin (based on the book by Michael Lewis)Considering it's Sorkin (The Social Network) AND Zaillian (Schindler's List), it probably has an excellent shot at the top5 but for some reason it sounds way too conventional for me. Then again, I'm not voting and the Academy sometimes LOVES 'conventional'.
- One Day – David Nicholls (based on his own novel)The last time Lone Scherfig directed a film based on a novel adapted by the novel's writer, it worked. Hopefully Nicholls won't break that (barely) trend.
- We bought a Zoo – Cameron Crowe, Aline Brosh McKenna (based on Benjamin Mee's memoir)Crowe has been disappointing lately, but he did deliver some excellent screenplays before that (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous), so there is definitely hope he could be back to his A-game sooner or later (hopefully as soon as this year), but McKenna has only written mediocre screenplays so far (Laws of Attraction, The Devil wears Prada, 27 dresses, Morning Glory), so unless she really stepped it up, there will be problems with a potential Awards-campaign here.
- The Help – Tate Taylor (based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett)I'm starting to think this could surprise us all and it will become a viable contender in the end (a best picture nomination isn't out of the realm of possibilites, either, especially in a 10-slot-system) and if that happens, the writer-director who adapted this remarkably succesful, beloved book, might just get a script nomination, as well.
- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan (based on the novel by John le Carré)On paper it sounds excellent, but we need some decent early word now.
- The Skin I live in – Pedro Almodóvar (based on the novel by Thierry Jonquet)The film looks campy, creepy in the best possible way. I don't know whether the Academy would go for that or not. Cannes liked it, but unless US-critics fell in love with it, Almodóvar won't stand a chance in a remarkably strong year like this.
- My Week with Marilyn – David Parfitt (based on Colin Clark' memoir)I always thought this will be an acting showcase and nothing else, but the (in)famous Weinsten-push goes a long way, so who knows how far this could go.
- We need to talk about Kevin – Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear (based on the novel by Lionel Shriver)If this is indeed this year's Rabbit Hole (small, critically acclaimed indie about losing a child), then Swinton has the best shot at a nomination, even though the script category is definitely a close second in this case.
- Jane Eyre – Moira Buffini (based on the novel by Charlotte Bronte)She's got the reviews but the early release date and the 'rival' Bronte-pic (Wuthering Heights) probably killed her chances for good. UNLESS Focus gives it a big (unexpected) Awards-push.
- Drive – Hossein Amini (based on the novel by James Sallis)He has definitely come a long way since his Oscar-nomination (The Wings of the Dove) and although on paper I wouldn't think the Academy would go for an action-thriller screenplay, considering the recent Cannes-triumph (best director), this film might just be a special case.
- On the Road – Jose Rivera (based on the novel by Jack Kerouac)The lack of buzz isn't very promising, but it's still only June, so who knows how far this will go when all is said and done.
- Albert Nobbs – Glenn Close, John Banville (based on the play by George Moore)Glenn Close pulling an 'Emma Thompson' (=adapting the screenplay herself) AND a 'Nicole Kidman (=producing the passion project, as well) ? Damn, this better be her year already !
- The Adventures of Tintin – Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish (based on the comic books by Hergé)I was accused of underestimating this one and I admit, I could be wrong, I simply think War Horse is a considerably stronger Oscar-player on paper, and though Spielberg is definitely an Academy-favourite, I don't think that will be enough for a SECOND serious contender in the same year.
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Simon Beaufoy (based on the novel by Paul Torday)Everything about this film SCREAMS Oscar : the remarkably consistent, Oscarless (even nominationless) actors, the director of Chocolat and The Cider House Rules AND the screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 hours...his last two screenplays made the top5 without a hitch and he even won one of those...just saying.
OUT (for now)
The Rum Diary – Bruce Robinson (based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson)
A Better Life – Eric Eason (based on a story by Roger Simon)
The Door – István Szabó, Andrea Vészits (based on the novel by Magda Szabó)
The Eye of the Storm – Judy Morris (based on the novel by Patrick White)
Cars 2 – Ben Queen, John Lasseter, Brad Lewis, Dan Fogelman
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Ol Parker (based on the book by Deborah Moggach)