Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin’s “Moneyball” script grabbed BAFTA and WGA noms and a slew of critics’ awards, but the World Series awaits: the adapted screenplay Oscar. This contest finds quite a few familiar names accompanied by some talented rookies.
While some might scoff at rewarding a silent movie for original screenplay, it’s not as if “The Artist” were improvised. But if voters lean toward more dialogue-driven scripts here, Michel Hazanavicius’ homage to a bygone era has some intriguing competition, especially from a certain familiar bespectacled one.
For “The Descendants,” director Alexander Payne — who won an adapted screenplay Oscar for “Sideways” — collaborated not with usual partner Jim Taylor (who co-produced) but with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (who plays Dean Pelton on “Community”). The “Descendants” script was honored with National Board of Review and Satellite awards, numerous film critic circle laurels and an Indie Spirit nom.
Versatile scribe John Logan, who has past Acad noms for “Gladiator” and “The Aviator,” earned WGA and Broadcast Film Critics Assn. noms for adapting “Hugo” from Brian Selznick’s “The Invention of Hugo Cabret.” That homage to early cinema is up for 11 Oscars all told.
“The Ides of March” picked up Golden Globe and BAFTA noms for George Clooney (who plays a governor running for president), Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon. Clooney and Heslov were nominated here before, for “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
Sadly, Bridget O’Connor, who co-wrote the BAFTA-winning “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” with her husband, Peter Straughan, passed away in 2010 of cancer. Formerly a playwright in the U.K., Straughan also adapted “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” This is their first major award nomination for Straughan, named a Variety Screenwriter to Watch in 2007.
In the original screenplay race, Woody Allen’s been Oscar-nominated for screenplay 15 times, winning twice. Despite his reputation as anti-Hollywood awards, he has a shot, as the WGA-nominated time-traveler “Midnight in Paris” won the screenplay Golden Globe, the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. award, the Online Film Critics award and was his highest-grossing film in 25 years. “Midnight” also received BAFTA and Spanish Goya noms.
Meanwhile, in addition to BAFTA and WGA noms, “Bridesmaids” scribes Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig (the film’s star) found rare Academy recognition for a raunchy, female-centered comedy. First-timer J.C. Chandor’s financial crisis drama “Margin Call” was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for first screenplay and won the San Francisco Film Critics award.
Completing the intrigue is “A Separation.” Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian drama racked up critical praise and was nominated for a foreign-language film Oscar after outpacing all others in that category over the awards season. Farhadi also snagged National Society of Film Critics and Los Angeles Film Critics screenplay awards.