Oscars 2023: Best Original Screenplay Predictions

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.

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The State of the Race

To say the Best Original Screenplay category is competitive this season would be an understatement. Right now, the bulk of the frontrunners are primed for Best Picture nominations (with “The Fabelmans” being the current favorite to win that category). However, voters sometimes look to the screenplay categories as an opportunity to recognize films that could go unnoticed elsewhere, and there is still room for that this season.

A24’s “Aftersun,” the story of a woman reforming the memory of the Turkish vacation she took with her young father when she was a preteen, started the year off as a pleasant surprise to the Cannes crowd — but it has since gone on to be the best-reviewed film of the year. Now that award shows have begun, critics in particular are showering writer-director Charlotte Wells with trophies for her poetic debut feature film starring Paul Mescal. The film has already won awards from the Gothams, the New York Film Critics Circle, and the British Independent Film Awards, and is nominated at the upcoming European Film Awards and the Indie Spirits. Though the movie itself may prove too opaque for some Oscar voters, expect writers to keep its momentum going, and push for its inclusion within this year’s nominations.

That said, “Elvis,” “The Woman King, “Triangle of Sadness,” and “Nope” are far from being out of the race yet—they just really need a second wind. Meanwhile “Armageddon Time” and “Empire of Light,” as explorations of a bumpy adolescence that shaped the writers wanting to become artists, are now stuck in the shadows of “The Fabelmans” — which does the same thing, and does it really well.

But enough about the Steven Spielberg film, which he wrote with Tony Kushner. The iconic director has never been nominated in a Screenplay category, so even getting nominated for Best Original Screenplay would unlock a new achievement in his decades-long career. The true race in the category is between the Daniels (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Todd Field (“TÁR”), and Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”). The latter two have the advantage — with each having two Screenplay nominations already under their belts — as they campaign with films many consider their career bests. They have been trading off wins at the early awards ceremonies, with Field winning Best Screenplay at the Gothams, and McDonagh winning Best Screenplay at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

However, Field and McDonagh’s history as Academy favorites means that they have more of a shot at Best Director nominations as well. Given how Oscar voters enjoy giving Best Original Screenplay to promising filmmakers for their breakout movie (e.g. Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman,” Jordan Peele’s “Get Out”), there is a universe in which the Daniels win here come March.

Oscar contenders are listed in alphabetical order. Only films I have seen will be deemed frontrunners.

Frontrunners:
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Todd Field (“TÁR”)
Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”)
Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Charlotte Wells (“Aftersun”)

Contenders:
Keith Beauchamp, Chinonye Chukwu, and Michael Reilly (“Till”)
Sam Bromell, Baz Luhrmann, and Craig Pearce (“Elvis”)
Damien Chazelle (“Babylon”)
Luke Goebel, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Elizabeth Sanders (“Causeway”)
James Gray (“Armageddon Time”)
Sam Mendes (“Empire of Light”)
Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”)
Jordan Peele (“Nope”)
Dana Stevens (“The Woman King”)

Longshots:
Elegance Bratton (“The Inspection”)
Julia Cho, Domee Shi, and Sarah Streicher (“Turning Red”)
Lukas Dhont and Angelo Tijssens (“Close”)
Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller (“Bros”)
Nicolás Giacobone and Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Bardo (or False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths)”)
Park Chan-wook and Seo-kyeong Jeong (“Decision to Leave”)
Cooper Raiff (“Cha Cha Real Smooth”)
Seth Reiss and Will Tracy (“The Menu”)

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