Oscar Handicap 2019: 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 37 of the past 40 ceremonies (92.5%). Advantage: The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice

2) As long as you’re not the one who wrote the lowest grossing nominee at the time of the announcements, you’ve won 35 of 40 (87.5%). Advantage: The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book, Vice

3) A film also nominated for Best Picture has won here 34 of 40 (85%). Advantage: The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice

4) A BAFTA nominee for Best Screenplay has won 33 of 40 (82.5%). Advantage: The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice

5) A film also nominated for Best Director has won for Best Original Screenplay 32 of 40 (80%). Advantage: The Favourite, Roma, Vice

6) Films written by first-time nominees have won 31 of 40 (77.5%). Advantage: The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book

7) Movies lacking comedic storylines have won Best Original Screenplay 31 of 40 (77.5%). Advantage: First Reformed, Roma

8) Nominees for the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay have won here 30 of 40 (75%). Advantage: The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, Vice

9) Movies predominantly set in the United States have won 29 of 40 (72.5%) Advantage: First Reformed, Green Book, Vice

10) Screenplays with only one credited writing nominee have won 29 of 40 (72.5%). Advantage: First Reformed, Roma, Vice

11) Best Original Screenplay winners have had stories based in the past twenty years 28 of 40 (70%). Advantage: Vice

12) The winner of the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay also wins here 25 of 40 times (62.5%). Advantage: None of the nominees (Bo Burnham’s screenplay for Eighth Grade won the WGA Award for Best Original Screenplay.)

13) The winner of the Critics Choice Award for Best Original Screenplay also wins here 14 of the 23 years the Broadcast Film Critics Association has been handing out awards (60.9%). Advantage: First Reformed

14) If you are your film’s only chance of winning an award, fuggetaboutit! 0 for 24 in the years where there was an Original Screenplay nominee that fell in to this ignoble stat. Sorry, First Reformed

By The Numbers

It’s seriously a fucking crime that the writer of The Yakuza AND Taxi Driver AND Raging Bull AND Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters AND The Last Temptation of Christ AND Affliction, who is also the director of American Gigolo AND Cat People AND Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters AND Affliction, only got his very first Oscar nomination in any category forty-four years after his first credit, but sadly, Paul Schrader is not likely to go home with his first Academy Award this weekend.

The Favourite (Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, +8, -9, -10, -11, -12, -13, -14 (323 of 527, 61.29%)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader): -1, +2, -3, -4, -5, +6, +7, -8, +9, +10, -11, -12, +13, +14 (230 of 527, 43.64%)
Green Book (Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly): +1, +2, +,3 +4, -5, +6, -7, +,8 +9, -10, -11, -12, -13, -14 (317 of 527, 60.15%)
Roma (Alfonso Cuarón): +1, -2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8, -9, +10, -11, -12, -13, -14 (269 of 527, 51.04%)
Vice (Adam McKay): +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, +8, +9, +10, +11, -12, -13, -14 (353 of 527, 66.98%)

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Breakdowns

1) Best Adapted Screenplay nominees also up for Best Picture has won here 38 of the past 40 ceremonies (95%). Advantage: BlacKkKlansman, A Star is Born

2) Films with at least one acting nomination have won 37 of 40 times (92.5%). Advantage: BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star is Born

3) As long as you’re not the lowest grossing nominee at the time of the nominations, you’ve won 35 of 50 (87.5%). Advantage: BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star is Born

4) Nominees for the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay have won here 32 of 40 (80%). Advantage: If Beale Street Could Talk

5) A BAFTA nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay has won here 32 of 40 (80%). Advantage: BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star is Born

6) Winners here have come from movies with a Best Director nomination 32 of 40 (80%). Advantage: BlacKkKlansman

7) Screenplays with only one credited writing nominee have won 30 of 40 (75%). Advantage: If Beale Street Could Talk

8) Nominees of the Writers Guild award in this category has also won here 30 of 40 (75%). Advantage: BlacKkKlansman, Can You Ever Forgive Me, If Beale Street Could Talk, A Star is Born

9) A first-time Oscar nominee has won in this category 28 of 40 (70%). Advantage: BlacKkKlansman (Wachtel and Rabinowitz and Willmott), Can You Ever Forgive Me (Whitty and Holofcener), A Star is Born (Fetters)

10) Nominees for the USC Scripter Award has won in this category 20 of the 31 years the preeminent university has been handing out their awards (64.5%). Advantage: Can You Ever Forgive Me, If Beale Street Could Talk

11) Nominees which take place outside of the past twenty years have won 24 of 40 (60%). Advantage: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, BlacKkKlansman

By The Numbers

Another major crime in movie history is how Spike Lee has not won an Academy Award yet. Odds are, however, that he will finally be rewarded for his career-defining work on BlacKkKlansman

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel Coen & Ethan Coen): -1, -2, -3, -4, -5, -6, -, -7, -8, -9, -10, +11 (101 of 431, 23.43%)
BlacKkKlansman (Charlie Wachtel & David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott & Spike Lee): +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, +6, -7, +8, +9, -10, +11 (349 of 431, 80.97%)
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty): -1, +2, +3, -4, +5, -6, -7, +8, +9, +10, -11 (226 of 431, 52.44%)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins): -1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8, -9, +10, -11 (254 of 431, 58.93%)
A Star Is Born (Eric Roth and Bradley Cooper & Will Fetters): +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, -6, -7, +8, +9, -10, -11 (253 of 431, 58.70%)

Thank you for taking the time to check us out.

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 Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Animated Feature
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Cinematography
Best Production Design
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Best Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Score
Best Sound Effects and Best Sound Mixing
Best Documentary Feature

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