Don’t let the results of the WGA sway you too much. Quentin Tarantino, as a non-Guild member, was no more eligible for one of their awards than he is likely to be invited to spit punany poetry on a split bill with Maya Angelou. Which isn’t to say he wouldn’t jump at the chance, and which isn’t to say that he wouldn’t have won the WGA were it not for the technicality. It’s as obviously difficult to call him an outright frontrunner for the Oscar as it is to bet on Johnny Weir taking first place in any given ice skating competition. No matter how flamboyantly good he may be, no matter how much higher his profile is than just about anyone else’s in the medium, there’s simply no getting around the fact that there are some judges out there who are just never going to be in his corner. And there are always going to be Academy members who just don’t see great screenwriting in a draft that spent approximately six or seven pages on a tavern parlor celebrity guessing game, to say nothing of the moral quandary Inglourious Basterds’s irreverent alternate WWII history poses to a group whose voting record almost seems to need Adolf Hitler perpetually alive and well.
And so what should be Tarantino’s slam-dunk consolation prize is, well, a battleground, with only Pixar’s hot air balloon seemingly above the fray (and out of the running). We almost said the same bluehairs who likely find Tarantino’s jocular Nazi killers problematic would stand completely on end over Ethan and Joel Coen’s relentlessly antipathetic Semitism, but then again, A Serious Man did manage to slip into the Best Picture lineup. But in the end, the dog-eared but ferociously critical The Messenger is probably apt to garner support from enough of the Academy’s MoveOn.org’ers to cut into The Hurt Locker’s potential spread against Tarantino. Basterds may be, to some, a tasteless hodgepodge, but structurally speaking, The Hurt Locker is practically Twister with IEDs instead of tornados.
Will Win: Inglourious Basterds
Should Win: Inglourious Basterds