Oscar: Original screenplay
Why he’ll win: It’s the writer-director’s sixth time asked to the dance (including writing nods for “Vera Drake,” “Topsy Turvy” and “Secrets and Lies”), and supporters think it’s his year to ascend the podium, especially since the movie’s spirited, sprightly tone marks a departure from his usual, darker work.
Maybe not: This is the well-received film’s sole nomination, hardly a vote of confidence from the Academy. Also, Leigh’s rather admirable habit of not populating his films with stars or even names makes him an outsider in Hollywood.
Critical quote: “The London universe Leigh creates (employing his trademark improv techniques to unite his ensemble, many of whom make their film debuts) isn’t so much a reality as a hope, and an invitation to find joy and grace in everyday moments,” says Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly.