Oscar Volley: The heat is with the “Original””my favourite category! – cpn


NATHANIEL: I feel like I say “my favourite category!” a lot when talking Oscar. So let me just tell you, Abe, that this is at least ‘one of em’ for me (with the Actress categories, Costumes, International Feature, and and and and and) Usually, the Oscar buzz centers on the Adapted screenplays since they come bearing automatic prestige. This year it is so pleasing that the heat is with the originals. The Banshees of Inisherin & Everything Everywhere All At Once feel neck-and-neck for the future win. Even if they both didn’t have so much heat in Best Picture, they’d be formidable contenders in this category.

I want to start with the longer shots, though. One movie a lot of people are rooting for is Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun. I love it too but I wonder if it’s ineffable impact doesn’t spring more from the fluid mystery of the direction, editing, and performances? I wonder if it can go the distance here. What longer shot are you rooting for?


ABE: I do think that Aftersun has a great script but its performance and aesthetics are likelier to sway voters, if at all. There are two other longshots that I’d love to highlight here, however, both of which could have had a solid chance but didn’t manifest the enthusiasm they needed.

The first is Cha Cha Real Smooth. Filmmaker and star Cooper Raiff had already garnered tremendous praise for his previous feature, Shithouse, and then Cha Cha, an extremely endearing and entertaining story of a party-starter’s relationship with a married woman and her autistic daughter, premiered at Sundance, where it won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize. By the time it got to Tribeca, Apple TV+ had acquired it and the trailer was playing before every single film showing at the festival. I thought it was going to be marketed as the next CODA, but everyone seems to have forgotten this gem and its smart and sweet screenplay.

The second is Emergency, written by K.D. Dávila, whose live-action short, Please Hold, was an Oscar nominee last year. Also a Sundance premiere, it won Dávila a screenwriting prize for her darkly comic tale of three college roommates who find a white girl passed out in their dorm room and struggle with what to do as people of color who have reason to be fearful of negative societal and police responses. It’s a very worthwhile film which is steaming on Prime Video.


I don’t expect to see such creativity rewarded, however. Fortunately some of the likelier contenders are also good. I haven’t been shy about my lack of affinity for The Banshees of Inisherin, but my attitude won’t keep it from getting nominated. I’m all for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which would take the prize right now if it were up to me.

But this category has five nominees, so three other films will have to be in contention. Two major movies that are probable but not fully locked up are The Fabelmans and Tár. Do you think either is vulnerable?

NATHANIEL: I think in a different year the endearing Cha Cha might have come up in this category (but this category alone) but with so many of the Best Picture contenders being Originals the voters just won’t be looking at scrappier indies. I think Everything Everywhere All At Once is special but I think I’m a bit more in the Banshees camp (sorry!) since it’s strengths are so much about its writing whereas the greatness of Everything stems more from the playful filmmaking, insane visual gags, and the dramatic depth the actors bring to the absurdist and comic unrealiy. Not that that all doesn’t initially spring from the writing. I’m trying to split hairs with clumsy hot dog fingers; they’d both make great winners!


I don’t really think TÁR is vulnerable of being shut out. It’s a very ambitious idea-driven character study and Todd Field nails it. This is an easier place to find room for him than in Best Director as well.

As for The Fabelmans a snub for its screenplay isn’t out of the question but I would personally be quite annoyed. I am in love with the film for the very reason that turns a lot of people off. Detractors, hell even some of its fans,claim it’s overwritten and overacted but I think its presentational heightened quality is 100% intentional and, more importantly, EXACTLY right for what is basically auto-fiction about one of the world’s most famous myth-makers. Usually I’m an “agree to disagree” kind of chill person and I know it’s very rude to be all ‘you just don’t get it!’ but I’m feeling very protective of this movie. I’m not even a Spielberg person by nature but I think it’s his best film in 30 years… since the Schindler’s List/Jurassic Park double.

Speaking of self-referential auteur movies, James Gray’s Armageddon Time, Elegance Bratton’s The Inspection, and Iñárritu’s Bardo are also eligible in this category but I think it’s far more likely we’ll see a more proudly fictional international title in the shortlist like the twisty noir Decision to Leave or the gross-out satire of Triangle of Sadness. (A small part of me wonders, though, why The Menu or Nope don’t seem to be catching on at all in terms of Original Screenplay lists.)


ABE: I do think The Fabelmans missing in this category would be a disappointment given that it’s such a personal film, and agree that it is also unfortunately possible. From the others you mentioned, I’d be happiest to see The Inspection or Decision to Leave, and The Menu might also be a fun choice. I think Bardo is likelier to show up in cinematography or international feature than here.

I think the probable fifth choice will be Triangle of Sadness. My feelings on that film are similar to how I feel about Banshees, and in both cases, I was also not too fond of their directors’ previous acclaimed works (Force Majeure and Three Billboards, respectively). But I’ve tried to take my own perspective out of my predictions since Oscar voters don’t ask me what I think. Even if it’s not going to be a major player – which is still very possible – I think Triangle of Sadness easily shows up here and probably with a supporting actress nod for Dolly De Leon.

Have we missed anything, and are we predicting the same five nominees?

NATHANIEL: I think we are so let’s do order with our two most probable spoilers. I’m going

Banshees of Inisherin (LOCK)
Everything Everywhere All At Once (LOCK)
The Fabelmans (vulnerable)
Triangle of Sadness (vulnerable)
With Aftersun (#6) and Decision to Leave (#7) as potential spoilers. Although now that I’ve typed this watch Elvis or Babylon be nominated instead. We didn’t discuss either of those!


ABE: I’m going to have to go with the same exact order but for the alternates — Elvis (#6) and Aftersun (#7) . As always, would love a fun surprise that doesn’t come at the expense of an unfortunate snub!


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