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Oscars 2023: Best Original Screenplay Predictions

From "Bros" to "The Fabelmans" to "The Banshees of Inisherin," the fall festivals packed some heavy hitters for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

"The Banshees of Inisherin"

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

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We will update these predictions throughout awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2023 Oscar picks. Nominations voting is from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is March 2 through 7, 2023.  And finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See IndieWire’s preliminary Oscars Predictions for this category and more here.

The State of the Race

While one can argue that the fall festivals have thinned out the Best Adapted Screenplay contenders, there is now an even more robust selection of Best Original Screenplay hopefuls post-Telluride, Venice, and TIFF.

Leading the charge is “The Fabelmans,” another Steven Spielberg collaboration with Tony Kushner one short year after his “West Side Story” adaptation was overlooked by the Academy. This time, the story is much more personal, with the duo mining the director’s childhood for material. The result led to a big win at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, with the movie receiving the 2022 People’s Choice Award. Despite his many Oscar nominations over the years, Spielberg has never been nominated for one of his scripts, and “Fabelmans” marks his first writing credit since “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” over 20 years ago.

Though “Fabelmans” is at the top of the heap, it’s not the only viable possible Oscar nominee that sees a filmmaker writing a story about the time period that turned them into an artist. Both James Gray’s “Armageddon Time” and Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light” touch on what it was like to live in an increasingly conservative society, as influential politicians like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher came into power around 1980. That bit of history only serves as a jumping-off point for two vastly different narratives, but they are among the stronger “my most personal film yet” scripts from esteemed writer-directors. However, there is a chance that those films could cancel each other out in the screenplay category.

Meanwhile, two films from past nominees are looking extremely solid. “TÁR,” Todd Field’s first film in 16 years, received applause from the audience for certain lines during its first Telluride screening, indicating just how much enthusiasm there is for the stylish Cate Blanchett vehicle. And then there’s Martin McDonagh’s latest dark crowdpleaser “The Banshees of Inisherin,” not to be confused with the play he had worked on titled “The Banshees of Inisheer,” received a glowing response out of Venice, and even won the Golden Osella for Best Screenplay at the festival.

TIFF launched a number of other prospective entries into the category that have yet to pick up momentum. That includes “The Inspection” filmmaker Elegance Bratton’s feature debut based on his time in the military and “The Woman King” screenwriter Dana Stevens, whose work on the battle epic helped set it up for box office success shortly after its premiere. Meanwhile, “Bros” writer-star Billy Eichner premiered his queer romcom to rave reviews ahead of its theatrical release, which may determine the rest of its campaign. The Canadian gathering also saw much-admired writer-directors Jordan Peele (“Nope”), Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”), and Park Chan-wook (“Decision to Leave”) making the rounds at screenings and basking in the same glow that met their films earlier in the year. Expect those campaigns to keep picking up speed.

There are only two major possibilities around the corner in this category: Damien Chazelle’s lavish showbiz epic “Babylon” and Chinonye Chukwu’s emotional period piece “Till,” both of which will screen in the coming weeks.
Finally, one of the most promising contenders premiered before all of these films. The Daniels’ multiverse comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once” continues to resonate as one of the year’s most original films, and that alone could be enough to keep the writer-director pair in the awards conversation for this category.

Oscar contenders are listed in alphabetical order. Only films I have seen will be deemed frontrunners (TIFF contenders like “Fabelmans” were unavailable to screen for those of us unable to attend the festival at the tailend of Emmys season).

Frontrunners:
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Todd Field (“TÁR”)
James Gray (“Armageddon Time”)
Sam Mendes (“Empire of Light”)
Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)

Contenders:
Keith Beauchamp, Chinonye Chukwu, and Michael Reilly (“Till”)
Elegance Bratton (“The Inspection”)
Sam Bromell, Baz Luhrmann, and Craig Pearce (“Elvis”)
Damien Chazelle (“Babylon”)
Lukas Dhont and Angelo Tijssens (“Close”)
Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller (“Bros”)
Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”)
Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”)
Park Chan-wook and Seo-kyeong Jeong (“Decision to Leave”)
Jordan Peele (“Nope”)
David O. Russell (“Amsterdam”)
Dana Stevens (“The Woman King”)
Charlotte Wells (“Aftersun”)

Longshots:
Clay McLeod Chapman, Jordan Peele, and Henry Selick (“Wendell & Wild”)
Julia Cho, Domee Shi, and Sarah Streicher (“Turning Red”)
Nicolás Giacobone and Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths)”)
Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Elizabeth Sanders (“Causeway”)
Anthony McCarten (“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”)
Tyler Perry (“A Jazzman’s Blues”)
Cooper Raiff (“Cha Cha Real Smooth”)
Seth Reiss and Will Tracy (“The Menu”)
Stefani Robinson (“Chevalier”)
Katie Silberman, Carey Van Dyke, and Shane Van Dyke (“Don’t Worry Darling”)
Paul Schrader (“Master Gardener”)

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