It starts and ends with writers making hard choices.

In the beginning, choices writers make on things like where to start the story and what its core is; what to leave in and take out; whose voice is best for telling it; and whether the truth of a particular story will be best served by facts and realism, or by art.

In the end, choices other writers make, Academy member writers, on which achievements they’re most impressed, delighted and moved by.

By Jan. 15, when ballots are due, writers’ branch members will cast votes in two categories, original and adapted, to arrive at ten nominees.

Variety has put together a portfolio of 22 of the top screenplays and scribes of the season, based on a combination of our own favorites and mounting evidence of critical notice.

Of the first ten, half are adaptations and half are original. The rest are a mixed dozen. Together, they represent writers at their best, and some tough decisions.