Why ‘Her’ is Oscar frontrunner for Original Screenplay

Our Experts are missing out on a key development in this year’s Oscar race for Best Original Screenplay category — only two of them have “Her” in first place. Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair) and Guy Lodge (In Contention), I applaud you!

The rest of our 25 Oscarologists are seriously underestimating this romantic comedy written and directed by Spike Jonze. Six of them don’t even have the script in their predictions despite “Her” having emerged as a serious awards contender in the past month. 

First, it took the Best Picture and Best Director prize at the National Board of Review. Then, it tied “Gravity” for the top prize with the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. And, even after it was shutout at the SAG Awards, the film rebounded with good showings at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards, netting nominations for Picture and Screenplay with both sets of kudos. Indeed, “Her” is a solid frontrunner for the Original Screenplay honor at the Critics’ Choice, having won the most critics’ awards of any film with an original script. 

Given this trajectory, and with a WGA nomination looking likely as well, “Her” is a lock for at least two Oscar nominations — Best Picture (aided by the core group of passionate support required to reap a bid) and Best Original Screenplay. It also has reasonable shots at Director, Art Direction, Original Score and Original Song. And don’t count out Joaquin Phoenix, who surprised last year with his Best Actor bid for “The Master.” Even Scarlett Johansson could become the first performer nominated for a voice-only role.  

Its chief competition for the Original Screenplay Oscar is “American Hustle,” which 18 of our Experts have in first place. That gives it leading odds of 15/8. While “Blue Jasmine” (11/2) and “Nebraska” (6/1) each have just one Expert backing their bids and “Inside Llewyn Davis” (13/2) has none, all three place higher than “Her” at 15/2 because they are ranked higher by more Experts overall.

As “Hustle” is on track to be one of the most nominated films of the year, voters will have many opportunities to reward it on their final ballot. “Her” will likely have fewer nominations. If its screenplay wins over both the Critics’ Choice and WGA, it will have momentum on its side that will be hard for voters to pass up.

So, listen up Experts! It’s time for most of you to take a good look at the contest for Original Screenplay and re-evaluate where Jonze factors into this race. Except for Hogan and Lodge — you two are allowed to go outside and play while the others work on their assignment.

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