For the first time, Slant has decided to tackle nomination predictions in the screenplay categories. Why, you ask? Are we simply making an attempt to demonstrate prognosticating prowess? Nah, it’s because they’re just so damned easy this year, especially the category based on material previously produced or published, now currently plundered or pillaged. Most years, this is the category that’s overstocked with potential candidates, if for no other reason than Oscar’s historic fondness for films that assert their Tradition of Quality credentials by adapting from serious literature. In other words, more Best Picture candidates get their validation here. That said, it’s precisely that literary bias that might keep one of the strongest dark-horse Best Picture candidates out of the running. The Dark Knight boasts a WGA nomination, but we’re betting the Academy’s writers branch will probably over-consider the source. It’s not like they’ve never nominated scripts based off comic books before. Hell, they’ve done it three times already this decade: Ghost World, American Splendor, and A History of Violence. But this is Batman we’re talking about, and my hunch is that the writers en masse won’t embrace the words growled by Christian Bale as warmly as they did the snark evinced by Thora Birch or the fuggedaboutits from William Hurt. Otherwise, there’s very little reason to argue against the other four scripts cited by WGA: Benjamin Lumpen, Shout, Lost/Nixon, and Slumdog Millionaire. Little reason to argue because there’s almost nothing else out there. The ranks are so thin that we could almost see them finding room for the appropriately titled Let the Right One In, but they usually only check their radar for films with hipster cachet over in Original Screenplay. Nah, the final spot probably comes down to one of the two tasteful Kate Winslet adaptations. The overripe dialogue of Revolutionary Road is certainly more gaseous, but writers who’ve had “show, don’t tell” drilled into their heads won’t respond kindly to all of Winslet-DiCaprio’s declaratives. Bet on The Reader to land the fifth slot in talismanic (if misguided) defense of literacy.
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