Historically a haven for the quirk, verve, and humor that can't quite crack the tougher races, the Original Screenplay category will openly welcome a movie like Bridesmaids, which may have a fiery fanbase and a sure shot at Supporting Actress, but isn't about to compete in Best Picture, no matter how hard the mainstream dreamers squint their eyes and pray. The script nom might strike some as a snub-amending bone-throw to a buzz-building comedy, but Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo actually deserve to be in contention for their dialogue-driven hit (unlike The Hangover, another R-rated giggler with Best Pic whispers, to which Bridesmaids is belittlingly compared). Still, pink-clad comediennes with volatile bowels are bound to be outclassed by Midnight in Paris, the Golden Globe and Critics' Choice victor that's all set to squeeze another gold man onto Woody Allen's crowded mantle.
Allen is one of very few people fully equipped to best The Artist, whose writer-director Michel Hazanavicius will also place here, but likely won't win. For the Kleenex factor alone, the certain Best Director nominees should find themselves in the company of Will Reiser, whose watered-down cancer comedy 50/50 told the tale of his own struggle, and netted attention from the Writer's Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press (for Best Pic: Comedy, no less). Predicted scribes for the fifth and final slot have included everyone from J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) to Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) to Diablo Cody (Young Adult), the latter of whom certainly has the afterglow factor on her side. But Cody's Paramount backers seem to have shoveled all their campaign energy into Hugo's engine, and though Chandor and Nichols appear perfectly viable for their zeitgeist-y work, precursors would suggest this category has a definite comedic skew (sorry, A Separation).
Which leaves Tom McCarthy's much-cited Win Win and Mike Mills's Beginners, two light and tender dramedies with enough idiosyncratic flourishes to fit the Original Screenplay mold. McCarthy has more mentions to boast, but despite his enduring good standing with critics, his only nod from the Academy has been for co-writing Up (all attention for 2008's The Visitor was heaped on Best Actor nominee Richard Jenkins). And assuming the voting population at large has Christopher Plummer's all-but-crowned supporting performance ranked higher on the must-see list, let's give the edge to Mills, who even throws in Cosmo, a Jack Russell primed and ready to duke it out with Uggie.
Will Be Nominated: 50/50, The Artist, Beginners, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris
Should Be Nominated: Certified Copy,The Future, Margaret, A Separation, Take Shelter