Oscar: Original screenplay

Why he’ll win: The Academy loves its theater folks (note half of the writing noms), and this former enfant terrible of the West End has enough theater honors under his belt to melt their hearts. He’s also an Oscar vet — he won short film/live action (for “Six Shooter,” which starred “In Bruges” lead Brendan Gleeson) in 2005.

Maybe not: This violent black comedy about hitmen had a very low profile Stateside, and the fact that hardly anyone saw it doesn’t help the campaign.

Critical quote: “This film debut by the theater writer and director Martin McDonagh is an endlessly surprising, very dark, human comedy, with a plot that cannot be foreseen but only relished,” says Roger Ebert of Chicago Sun-Times.

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