Oscars: Can Kenneth Lonergan (‘Manchester by the Sea’) hold on to win Best Original Screenplay?

“I was 100% sure ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and ‘Moonlight’ have it but after recent award shows I’m not sure anymore,” says forum poster Jake in our message boards discussing the latest developments in the Oscar screenplay races. You and me both, Jake. He adds, “‘La La Land’ might sweep and take it, but out of its 14 nods the one for screenplay is among least deserved, I’m afraid. ‘MBTS,’ which was winning screenwriting honors left and right, is losing steam at the moment … Screenplay might be the only place to award the film.”

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“Manchester by the Sea” writer-director Kenneth Lonergan previously looked like a safe bet to win Best Original Screenplay, but then “La La Land” — written and directed by Damien Chazelle — tied “Manchester” for the award at the Critics’ Choice Awards, and after that “La La Land” upset “Manchester” for Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes during its historic sweep of all seven of its categories.

Now “La La Land” has a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations and it’s on track for a potential record-breaking haul when winners are announced. Might that include Best Original Screenplay? Musicals rarely win for their writing (the last to do so was 1958’s “Gigi”), but the last film to win 11 Oscars, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), won its writing award when few were expecting it to. That said, the 11-time winner right before that, “Titanic” (1997), wasn’t even nominated for its scripting, so it’s hard to be sure at this point which track “La La Land” will be on.

So if “La La Land” is an oncoming awards tsunami, can Lonergan hold on to the screenwriting award when the wave makes landfall, or will it be pulled from his grasp? Read some of our posters’ comments below, then join the latest discussion in our forums.

Dish the Oscars with Hollywood insiders in our notorious forums

Brennan Merone: “WGA and BAFTA will be the litmus test here — not only to see if ‘Manchester’ will beat out ‘La La Land,’ but to see if anything can contend with ‘Moonlight’ in Adapted.”

Roney Moore: “‘Manchester’ can totally win with a writer-based group like WGA though, like ‘Up in the Air’ did. And BAFTA is already susceptible to films like ‘LLL’ in Screenplay. They usually go their own way in that category, generally more emotional and impactful stuff instead of dialogue heavy movies. It will be hard to call either way (unless ‘LLL’ wins WGA which would make it a no-brainer).”

FreemanGriffin: “I am so hoping ‘Manchester by the Sea’ wins Original Screenplay. If it wins WGA I will switch my prediction, but for now I think ‘La La Land’ (an excellent choice, it’s just that ‘MBTS’s’ screenplay is the best of the year) will win mainly because ‘Birdman’ won two years ago when I thought they would give at least one Oscar to Richard Linklater [for ‘Boyhood’] and split it up with [Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu] winning Best Director [for ‘Birdman’]. Lesson learned?”

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