It may seem strange to suggest that Paul Thomas Anderson and Adam McKay have a lot in common. But they are both filmmakers behind original comedies up for Best Original Screenplay at this year’s Oscars: “Licorice Pizza” and “Don’t Look Up” respectively. The two probably have even less in common with the native Irish Kenneth Branagh, but it could also be in the original script of the semi-autobiographical “Belfast”. So who will win this particularly busy category?
In the Gold Derby odds, ‘Licorice Pizza’ and ‘Belfast’ went neck and neck for victory, while ‘Don’t Look Up’ went back and forth with ‘King Richard’ for third place. As of this writing, 15 pundits think “Licorice Pizza” will win this category, compared to 10 for Branagh’s film and just one for McKay.
To be fair, “Belfast” took a slight edge over the other two films premiering at Telluride last September. Later in the fall, Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” began screening shortly before McKay’s “Don’t Look Up,” which in turn caught up with the other two since becoming readily available on Netflix. since Christmas Eve.
The way “Belfast” compares to “Licorice Pizza” here might actually give us a hint of its strength as a Best Picture favorite. “Don’t Look Up” may still be considered less guaranteed for a Best Picture nomination compared to the others, but it clearly had more people watching it over the holidays, based on its Netflix viewing numbers. . “Licorice Pizza” enjoyed further expansion into more theaters, so it peaked in public consciousness more recently than “Belfast,” at least.
In some ways, the McKay/Anderson showdown is the most interesting. McKay’s track record with the academy didn’t really begin until his 2015 film “The Big Short,” which won him the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay and earned him the first of his two directing nominations. A few years later, his Dick Cheney The biopic “Vice” earned him another writing nomination, this time in the original screenplay.
Anderson has been in the Oscar game for much longer, dating back to his first original screenplay nomination for “Boogie Nights” in 1997. But while he’s garnered more career nominations (eight to McKay’s five), he’s never still haven’t won. Oddly enough, Anderson didn’t have an Oscar-nominated film in the same years as McKay. Anderson’s 2014 “Inherent Vice” received an adapted screenplay nomination a year before “The Big Short” won that category. And then Anderson’s next film, 2017’s ‘Phantom Thread’, earned the filmmaker nominations for Best Director and Best Picture the year before McKay’s ‘Vice’ earned him nominations in the same two. categories. They keep missing each other.
Because of this, this will be the first year that Anderson and McKay will face off in the Original Screenplay category, and possibly Image and Director as well. When you look at the Gold Derby best director odds, McKay is a long shot at 100/1 despite his two previous nominations, while Anderson is on the bubble in fifth place with odds of 13/2. Either way, no director seems likely to beat Jeanne Campion (“The Power of the Dog”) in the category on Oscar night, judging by those same ratings.
McKay is mostly since his comedy is quite dark compared to the inherent joy of Branagh and Anderson films. “Don’t Look Up” also received more than its share of controversy compared to the other two. Although the academy didn’t shy away from dark satire given that three of the last four original script winners were “Get Out” (2017), “Parasite” (2019) and “Promising Young Woman” (2020) .
Will McKay’s sharp political humor connect with Academy voters like these recent films have or will Branagh’s or Anderson’s more enjoyable movies win instead? Odds make that seem unlikely for McKay, though it’s always interesting to see these three very different filmmakers represented by three quite personal storylines. McKay and Anderson were both nominated by the Writers Guild of America (WGA), where “Belfast” was absent because Branagh’s screenplay did not meet the WGA’s strict eligibility criteria. It probably won’t be an oversight on the part of the academy’s writers branch, and then we’ll see this tight race unfold.
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