2020 Oscar Predictions — Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay

We continue our 2020 Academy Awards prediction series by turning to screenplay.

Original Screenplay – The Nominees:

  • 1917 – Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
  • Knives Out – Rian Johnson
  • Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach
  • Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
  • Parasite – Bong Joon Ho, Jin Won Han

Will Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Could Win: Parasite

Dark Horse: Marriage Story


There is a lot of talented writing in these five scripts. The only real question mark is 1917, which is a film more impressive for its pre-visualization than its screenwriting. But perhaps the nomination here is merely another sign that 1917 is the Best Picture nominee to beat. In terms of winning in this category: consider it a long shot.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time..in Hollywood has a difficult road if it wants to win in Best Director or Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay could be its consolation prize. That is a familiar narrative for Tarantino, who has won two Oscars previously, both for Original Screenplay.

What remains unclear is how Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite is going to favor at this year’s awards. It is coming into the show an underdog, but a fierce one at that. It has an outside chance at Best Director. It is a dark horse candidate for Best Picture. And it has a pretty good shot at Best Original Screenplay. Although Knives Out has a well-structured script, and Marriage Story has an emotionally resonant one, neither of these films have lit a match this awards season.

The Writers Guild awards may change my tune on this, but for now it appears to be a two-horse race between Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and Parasite, with Once Upon being the pretty clear favorite.


Adapted Screenplay – The Nominees:

  • Little Women – Greta Gerwig
  • The Irishman – Steven Zaillian
  • Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi
  • Joker – Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
  • The Two Popes – Antony McCarten

Will Win: The Irishman

Could Win: Little Women

Dark Horse: Joker


Unlike Best Original Screenplay, the adapted screenplay category is a pretty open field. You have the film with the most presence in the nominations, Joker, but it is difficult to call it a frontrunner. The script is not the standout aspect of that film, and it is likely to be a more divisive option for voters (although, it is clear from the 11 nominations that the Academy finds it less divisive than critics did). The scenario where Joker wins Best Adapted Screenplay, I think, is the same scenario in which it wins Best Picture.

What is more likely is that The Irishman will find its Oscar gold in this category. Given its epic scope, its script comes off as much more impressive than Joker. The upset watch is on Little Women, which could net Greta Gerwig an Oscar despite her being snubbed for a Best Director nomination.


As always, thanks for reading!

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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)


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