Of all the major players in this year’s Oscar game, Lincoln has arguably had the most mercurial ride, beginning as a sight-unseen frontrunner, performing few remarkable feats in the precursors, leading the Academy’s pack with the most nominations (12), and now, standing to perhaps fall short in many races, including Best Picture. Throughout the power shifts, the two men who’ve managed to remain all but untouched are lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis and screenwriter Tony Kushner, both of whom have a certain, insurmountable something their competitors don’t. For Kushner, it’s a whale of a way with riveting, yet painstaking, political discourse, which, somehow, has even wooed the mainstream masses into making Lincoln a formidable box-office hit. By now, most awards watchers are aware of Kushner’s grand task of translating Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, and how Steven Spielberg’s finished film is the whittled-down version of an initial 500-page script. Give or take Life of Pi, whose “unfilmable” nature speaks more to the triumphs of Ang Lee than scripter David Magee, no other project here can boast such an epic quest to the screen, and that’s just one reason voters are almost certain to swoon for Kushner.