Oscar Handicap 2017: The Screenplays

Our annual Oscar Handicap series continues with a look at the writing categories.

As a writer, I admire the hard work and dedication it takes to create a story that can crawl above the din of the seemingly millions of screenplays floating about. While many will say coming up with an original story is the tougher job, I believe it is the adaptation that is trickier. You have to find the balance between what to keep and what to cut, pleasing the author (if they are still alive) and/or the fans of the work. Everything really does begin with the written word. This is where it all begins, and any director who says a screenplay is just a blueprint is nothing more than an egotistical jackhole who needs to go back to making vapid music videos and GoDaddy commercials.

Best Original Screenplay

The Breakdowns

1) Best Original Screenplays have won for a film with at least one acting nomination 35 of the past 38 ceremonies (92.1%). Advantage: Hell or High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea

2) As long as you’re not the one who wrote the lowest grossing nominee at the time of the announcements, you’ve won 33 of 38 (86.8%). Advantage: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Manchester by the Sea

3) A film also nominated for Best Picture has won here 32 of 38 (84.2%). Advantage: Hell of High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea

4) A BAFTA nominee for Best Screenplay has won 31 of 38 (81.6%). Advantage:Hell of High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea

5) A film also nominated for Best Director has won for Best Original Screenplay 30 of 38 (78.9%). Advantage: La La Land, Manchester by the Sea

6) Films written by first-time nominees have won 30 of 38 (78.9%). Advantage: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska

7) Nominees for the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay have won here 29 of 38 (76.3%). Advantage: Hell of High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea

8) Dramas have won Best Original Screenplay 29 of 38 (76.3%). Advantage: Hell of High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea

9) Movies predominantly set in the United States have won 27 of 38 (71.1%)> Advantage: Hell of High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

10) Screenplays with only one credited writing nominee have won 27 of 38 (71.1%). Advantage: Hell of High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women

11) Best Original Screenplay winners have had stories based in the past twenty years 26 of 38 (68.4%). Advantage: Hell of High Water, La La Land, Manchester by the Sea

12) The winner of the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay also wins here 24 of 38 times (63.2%). Advantage: None. Moonlight was nominated in, and won in, the Original Screenplay category at the WGA, even though it’s based on a play,

Bonus) If you are your film’s only chance of winning an award, fuggetaboutit! 0 for 20. Sorry, The Lobster and 20th Century Women

By The Numbers

Here we are, with twelve categories of varying values, where we actually have a three way tie percentage wise. It’s kinda scary.

Hell or High Water (Taylor Sheridan): +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, +7, +8, +9, +10, +11, -12 (321 of 456, 70.4%)
La La Land (Damien Chazelle): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8, +9, +10, +11, -12  (321 of 456, 70.4%)
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou): -1, +2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, -12 (153 of 456, 33.6%)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8, +9, +10, +11, -12  (321 of 456, 70.4%)
20th Century Women (Mike Mills): -1, -2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, +10, -11,  -12 (157 of 456, 34.4%)

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Breakdowns

1) Best Adapted Screenplay nominees also up for Best Picture has won here 36 of the past 38 ceremonies (94.7%). Advantage: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight

2) Films with at least one acting nomination have won 35 of 38 times (92.11%). Advantage: Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight

3) As long as you’re not the lowest grossing nominee at the time of the nominations, you’ve won 34 of 38 (89.5%). Advantage: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion

4) Nominees for the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay have won here 31 of 38 (81.6%). Advantage: Moonlight

5) A BAFTA nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay has won 31 of 38 (81.6%). Advantage: Arrival, Hidden Figures, Lion

6) Winners here have come from movies with a Best Director nomination 31 of 38 (81.6%). Advantage: Arrival, Moonlight

7) Screenplays with only one credited writing nominee have won 29 of 38 (76.3%). Advantage: Arrival, Fences, Lion

8) The winner of the Writers Guild award in this category has also won here 29 of 38 (76.3%). Advantage: Arrival

9) A first-time Oscar nominee has won in this category 27 of 38 (71.1%). Advantage: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Moonlight

10) Nominees which take place outside of the past twenty years have won 22 of 38 (57.9%). Advantage: Fences, Hidden Figures

By The Numbers

Sci-fi is traditionally ignored for major awards consideration. We’ll see Sunday if the trend continues.

Arrival (Eric Heisserer): +1, -2, +3, -4, +5, +6, +7, +8, +9, -10 (243 of 380, 63.9%)
Fences (August Wilson): +1, +2, +3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8, +9, +10 (213 of 380, 56.1%)
Hidden Figures (Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi): +1, +2, +3, -4 +5, -6, -7, -8, +9, +10 (217 of 380, 57.1%)
Lion (Luke Davies): +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, -6, +7, -8, +9, -10 (231 of 380, 60.8%)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, screenplay and Tarell Alvin McCraney, story): +1, +2, -3, +4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10 (205 of 380, 53.9%)

 

All articles in this series:

Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature

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