2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Original Screenplay (Updated November 6, 2017)

In the last decade, the Best Original Screenplay Oscar has gone to writers of a wide-range of genres: dramas (“Birdman,”  “Manchester by the Sea”); comedies (“Juno,” “Midnight in Paris”); biopics (“Milk,” “The King’s Speech”); true-life stories (“Spotlight”); period pictures (“Django Unchained”); war movies (“The Hurt Locker”); and sci-fi (“Her”). (Scroll down for the most up-to-date predictions for this year’s Best Original Screenplay race.)

Regardless of the type of film, a nominee needs broad academy support to win this race. Indeed, all 10 of these most recent Best Original Screenplay winners were, at the least, Best Picture nominees. And four of them won the big prize, bringing the total number of Best Picture champs with Oscar-winning screenplays to 16. By comparison, 41 films have done this on the adapted side.

Last year, four of the five Oscar nominees for Best Original Screenplay were crafted by writer/directors including the winner, “Manchester by the Sea.” Playwright turned filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan also contended for Best Director. Expect auteurs to be well-represented in this race once again.

Please note: Only those films with confirmed release dates are listed below. Check back often as new contenders are scheduled while other are dropped due to delays or critical reaction.

UPDATED: November 6, 2017

Leading Contenders
Woody Allen: “Wonder Wheel” (Amazon Studios)

Paul Thomas Anderson: “Phantom Thread” (Annapurna Pictures/Focus Features)

Noah Baumbach, “The Meyerowitz Stories” (Netflix)

Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch: “The Florida Project” (A24)

Simon Beaufoy: “Battle of the Sexes” (Fox Searchlight)

Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor: “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight Picture)

Efthymis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos: “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” (A24)

Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird” (A24)

Dan Gilroy: “Roman Israel, Esq.” (Columbia)

Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjani: “The Big Sick” (Amazon Studios)

Liz Hannah, Josh Singer: “The Post” (20th Century Fox)

Anthony McCarten: “Darkest Hour” (Universal Studios/Focus Features)

Martin McDonagh: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Jordan Peele: “Get Out” (Universal)

Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor: “Downsizing”(Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures)

Strong Contenders
Michael Arndt, Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon: “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)

Rebecca Blunt, “Logan Lucky” (Bleecker Street/FilmNation Entertainment)

Mark Boal: “Detroit” (Annapurna Pictures)

Frank Cottrell Boyce, Simon Vaughan: “Goodbye, Christopher Robin” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Michael Koskoff, Jacob Koskoff: “Marshall” (Open Road Films)

Adrian Molina: “Coco” (Pixar/Disney)

William Nicholson: “Breathe” (Bleecker Street/Participant Media)

Christopher Nolan: “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)

Possible Contenders
Margaret Betts: “Novitiate” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Michael Haneke: “Happy End” (Sony Pictures Classics)

Azazel Jacobs: “The Lovers” (A24)

David Robert Mitchell: “Under the Silver Lake” (A24)

David Scarpa: “All the Money in the World” (Tristar)

Taylor Sheridan: “Wind River” (The Weinstein Company)

Edgar Wright: “Baby Driver” (TriStar Pictures)

UPDATED: November 6, 2017

Woody Allen has won this award three times — “Annie Hall” (1977); “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986); and “Midnight in Paris” (2011) — from a record 16 nominations. He could pick up a record fourth award this year for his period comedy “Wonder Wheel,” thus breaking his tie with three-time champs Charles BrackettPaddy Chayefsky, Francis Ford Coppola and Billy Wilder.

Among the other multi-hyphenates in the running:

Director Alexander Payne won Oscars for co-writing the adapted screenplays for “Sideways” (2004) and “The Descendants” (2011). He and “Sideways” scribe Jim Taylor devised “Downsizing,” a satire in which a man (Matt Damon) decides life would be better if he shrinks himself.

Paul Thomas Anderson has contended twice in this category (“Boogie Nights,” 1997; “Magnolia,” 1999) and could well find that third time is the charm with “Phantom Thread,” a fictionalized version of 1950s royal designer Hardy Amies. This period picture marks his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis, who won Best Actor for their first, “There Will Be Blood” (2007). Anderson reaped an adapted screenplay bid for that film as well as “Inherent Vice” (2014).

Greta Gerwig makes her solo directorial debut with “Lady Bird.” She also penned this character study inspired by her own troubled teen years.

Dan Gilroy reaped his first Oscar nomination for writing his directorial debut, “Nightcrawler,” in 2014. He is back doing double duty on “Roman Israel, Esq.” Two-time Oscar champ Denzel Washington plays the title character, a liberal lawyer forced to take over the running of his law firm when his partner has a heart attack who discovers that all is not what it seems.

Also in the mix is novelist Anthony McCarten who contended over in adapted in 2014 for “The Theory of Everything.” He crafted “Darkest Hour,” which chronicles the first days of Winston Churchill as British prime minister during WWII.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be predicting all 24 of the competitive categories at the Oscars.

Best Picture | Best Director | Best Original Screenplay | Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Film Editing | Best Production Design
Best Makeup & Hairstyling | Best Sound Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Visual Effects
Best Original Score | Best Original Song
Best Animated Feature | Best Documentary Feature | Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Short | Best Documentary Short | Best Live-Action Short

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