Writers often have the creative advantage when it comes to getting Academy credit for their vision.
Academy voters give creators extra points for controlling their visions; it gives the authors the advantage in the race for best original manuscript.
Getting a boost during 2021 is any film that debuted to real, live audiences at a film festival like Cannes. It was here that the triple script nominee Wes Anderson (“The Royal Tenenbaums”, “Moonrise Kingdom”, “Grand Budapest Hotel”) debuted his omnibus valentine for The New Yorker, “The French Dispatch” (Searchlight), which also played the fall. circuit, and writer-director Julia Ducourneau took home the gold palm for the French Oscar submission “Titane” (Neon), a genre- and gender-bending family drama that also won the Toronto Midnight Madness Award.
Writers of the author branch often search abroad for their candidates. Twice-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi introduced his Iranian family drama “A Hero” (Amazon) at Cannes, while Oscar winner Pedro Almodóvar (“Talk to Her”) impressed this fall’s festival circuit with “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics), with frequent muse and Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”) as a woman whose infant at birth is replaced by a younger mother (Milena Smit), with whom she becomes friends.
Also at fall festivals, “King Richard,” written by Zach Baylin, was the true story of Compton native Richard Williams (Will Smith), who cared for his daughters Venus and Serena (Saniyya Sidney and Demi Singleton) to become superstars.
During the pandemic, Kenneth Branagh wrote and filmed a personal story, “Belfast” (Focus Features), which won the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, often a warning about a nominee for best film. The film takes place in 1969 with Jude Hill as Branagh’s nine-year-old self and Jamie Dornan and Caitriona Balfe as his parents. “Belfast” could finally win the Branagh Oscar. He is delayed after five nominations – for directing and acting in “Henry V”, acting in “My Week with Marilyn”, adapting “Hamlet” and directing the short “Swan Song”.
Oscar-nominated Steven Knight (“Dirty Pretty Things”) collaborated with director Pablo Larrain on the festival hit “Spencer” (Neon), a surreal look behind the royal scenery at Christmas, starring Kristen Stewart as the distressed Princess Diana.
This fall, Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”) will follow up his Oscar-nominated “The Trial of the Chicago 7” with “Being the Ricardos” (December 10, Amazon), which follows husband and wife. The “I Love Lucy” team consisting of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem) during a hectic week in Hollywood.
The competitors are listed in alphabetical order. No movie will be considered a frontrunner unless I’ve seen it.
Pedro Almodovar (“Parallel Mothers”)
Wes Anderson (“The French Dispatch”)
Zach Baylin (“” King Richard “)
Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”)
Steven Knight (“Spencer”)
Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”)
Asghar Farhadi (“A Hero”)
Adam McKay and David Sirota (“Don’t Look Up”)
Aaron Sorkin (“Being the Ricardos”)
Julia Ducournau “Titanium”
Fran Kranz (“Messe”)
Mike Mills (“C’mon C’mon”)
Paul Schrader (“The Card Counter”)
Paolo Sorrentino (“Hand of God”)