Oscars Predictions: Best Original Screenplay – Can ‘Minari’ Continue the Love From Asian Voices in Hollywood?

Clayton Davis
·10 min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

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2021 OSCARS PREDICTIONS:
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

UPDATED: Dec. 28, 2020

AWARDS COMMENTARY:
Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin looks to be in the hunt for his first original screenplay nomination (and possible directing nom as well) for “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” It received a big boost back in October but an inevitable second wind is likely coming and it’ll look to rival Lee Isaac Chung’s touching work on “Minari” and its Netflix counterpart “Mank” from posthumous writer Jack Fincher, father of David. There’s still room for a few surprises, and we should expect it in this extended season.

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

  1. "Minari" (A24)
    WRITER(S): Lee Isaac Chung
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Lee Isaac Chung
    SYNOPSIS: A Korean family moves to Arkansas to start a farm in the 1980s.
    STARRING: Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan S. Kim, Yuh-jung Youn, Will Patton

  2. "The Trial of the Chicago 7" (Netflix)
    WRITER(S): Aaron Sorkin
    OSCAR HISTORY: 3 nominations, 1 win (2010's "The Social Network" in adapted screenplay)

    DIRECTOR: Aaron Sorkin
    SYNOPSIS: The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.
    STARRING: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Rylance, Alex Sharp, Jeremy Strong

  3. "Mank" (Netflix)
    WRITER(S): Jack Fincher
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: David Fincher
    SYNOPSIS: 1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.
    STARRING: Tom Burke, Lily Collins, Joseph Cross, Charles Dance, Monika Gossman, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Tuppence Middleton, Toby Leonard Moore, Gary Oldman, Tom Pelphrey, Amanda Seyfried, Sam Troughton

  4. "Judas and the Black Messiah" (Warner Bros.)
    WRITER(S): Will Berson and Shaka King (screenplay), Keith Lucas and Kenny Lucas (story by)
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Shaka King
    SYNOPSIS: The story of Fred Hampton, Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, and his fateful betrayal by FBI informant William O'Neal.
    STARRING: Lakeith Stanfield, Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Martin Sheen, Dominique Thorne, Algee Smith, Lil Rel Howery, Jermaine Fowler

  5. "Promising Young Woman" (Focus Features)
    WRITER(S): Emerald Fennell
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Emerald Fennell
    SYNOPSIS: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against those who cross her path.
    STARRING: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Molly Shannon, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Max Greenfield, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Connie Britton, Chris Lowell, Adam Brody, Sam Richardson

NEXT IN LINE CONTENDERS:

  1. "Palm Springs" (Hulu/Neon)
    WRITER(S): Andy Siara
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Max Barbakow
    SYNOPSIS: When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.
    STARRING: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Tyler Hoechlin

  2. "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" (Focus Features)
    WRITER(S)::Eliza Hittman
    OSCAR HISTORY:: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Eliza Hittman
    SYNOPSIS: Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin Skylar embark across state lines from rural Pennsylvania to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.
    STARRING: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin

  3. "Sound of Metal" (Amazon Studios)
    WRITER(S): Abraham Marder, Darius Marder (screenplay), Derek Cianfrance (story by)
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Darius Marder
    SYNOPSIS: A heavy-metal drummer's life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
    STARRING: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Mathieu Almaric, Lauren Ridloff

  4. "Da 5 Bloods" (Netflix)
    WRITER(S): Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Spike Lee
    SYNOPSIS: Four African American vets battle the forces of man and nature when they return to Vietnam seeking the remains of their fallen squad leader and the gold fortune he helped them hide.
    STARRING: Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Jonathan Majors, Chadwick Boseman, Isiah Witlock, Jr,, Norm Lewis

  5. "On the Rocks" (A24/Apple Plus)
    WRITER(S): Sofia Coppola
    OSCAR HISTORY: 3 nominations, 1 win (2003's "Lost in Translation" in original screenplay)

    DIRECTOR: Sofia Coppola
    SYNOPSIS: A young mother reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father on an adventure through New York.
    STARRING: Rashida Jones, Bill Murray, Marlon Wayans, Jessica Henwick, Jenny Slate

TOP-TIER AWARDS CONTENDERS:

  1. "Soul" (Pixar)
    WRITER(S): Pete Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers
    OSCAR HISTORY: Docter: 8 nominations, 2 wins (2009's "Up" and 2015's "Inside Out" in animated feature)

    DIRECTOR: Pete Docter, Kemp Powers
    SYNOPSIS: A musician who has lost his passion for music is transported out of his body and must find his way back with the help of an infant soul learning about herself.
    STARRING: Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett, Daveed Diggs, Quest Love, Phylicia Rashad, Tina Fey, Graham Norton

  2. "The Forty-Year-Old Version" (Netflix)
    WRITER(S): Radha Blank
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Radha Blank
    SYNOPSIS: Radha is a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, who is desperate for a breakthrough before 40. Reinventing herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime, she vacillates between the worlds of Hip Hop and theater in order to find her true voice.
    STARRING: Radha Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin, Imani Lewis, Antonio Ortiz, Haskiri Velazquez, T.J. Atoms

  3. "The King of Staten Island" (Universal Pictures)
    WRITER(S): Judd Apatow, Pete Davidson, Dave Sirus
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Judd Apatow
    SYNOPSIS: Scott has been a case of arrested development since his firefighter dad died. He spends his days smoking weed and dreaming of being a tattoo artist until events force him to grapple with his grief and take his first steps forward in life.
    STARRING: Pete Davidson, Marisa Tomei, Bill Burr, Steve Buscemi, Bel Powley

  4. "Herself" (Amazon Studios)
    WRITER(S): Clare Dunne, Malcolm Campbell
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Phyllida Lloyd
    SYNOPSIS: This is the story of young mother Sandra who escapes her abusive husband and fights back against a broken housing system. She sets out to build her own home and in the process rebuilds her life and re-discovers herself.
    STARRING: Clare Dunne, Molly McCann, Ruby Rose O'Hara, Ian Lloyd Anderson, Harriet Waler

  5. "The Invisible Man" (Universal Pictures)
    WRITER(S): Leigh Whannell
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Leigh Whannell
    SYNOPSIS: When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
    STARRING: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Harriet Dyer, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Storm Reid, Michael Dorman

  6. "Miss Juneteenth" (Vertical Entertainment)
    WRITER(S): Channing Godrey Peoples
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Channing Godfrey Peoples
    SYNOPSIS: A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.
    STARRING: Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, Alexis Chikaeze, Lori Hayes

  7. "Supernova" (Bleecker Street)
    WRITER(S): Harry Macqueen
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Harry Macqueen
    SYNOPSIS: Sam and Tusker are traveling across England in their old RV to visit friends, family and places from their past. Since Tusker was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, their time together is the most important thing they have.
    STARRING: Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Pippa Haywood, Peter MacQueen, Nina Marlin

  8. "The Climb" (Sony Pictures Classics)
    WRITER(S): Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Michael Angelo Covino
    SYNOPSIS: A look at the friendship between two guys that spans over many years.
    STARRING: Michael Angelo Covino, Kyle Marvin, Gayle Rankin

  9. "Ammonite" (Neon)
    WRITER(S): Francis Lee
    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Francis Lee
    SYNOPSIS: 1840s England, acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning and a young woman sent to convalesce by the sea develop an intense relationship, altering both of their lives forever.
    STARRING: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Fiona Shaw, Gemma Jones, James McArdle

  10. "Falling" (Quiver)
    WRITER(S): Viggo Mortensen
    OSCAR HISTORY: 3 nominations

    DIRECTOR: Viggo Mortensen
    SYNOPSIS: John Peterson lives with his partner Eric and their adopted daughter in Southern California. When he is visited by his aging father Willis from Los Angeles who is searching for a place to retire, their two very different worlds collide..
    STARRING: Viggo Mortensen, Lance Henriksen, Laura Linney

ALSO IN CONTENTION:

  1. "I Carry You With Me" (Sony Pictures Classics)
    WRITER(S)::Heidi Ewing, Alan Page Arriaga
    OSCAR HISTORY:: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Heidi Ewing
    SYNOPSIS: Ambition and societal pressure propel an aspiring chef to leave his soulmate in Mexico and make the treacherous journey to New York, where life will never be the same.
    STARRING: Armando Espitia, Christian Vazquez, Michelle Rodriguez

  2. "The Assistant" (Bleecker Street)
    WRITER(S)::Kitty Green
    OSCAR HISTORY:: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Kitty Green
    SYNOPSIS: A searing look at a day in the life of an assistant to a powerful executive. As Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the insidious abuse that threatens every aspect of her position.
    STARRING: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Kristein Froseth, Clara Wong

  3. "Farewell Amor" (IFC Films)
    WRITER(S)::Ekwa Msangi
    OSCAR HISTORY:: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Ekwa Msangi
    SYNOPSIS: Reunited after 17 years, an Angolan immigrant is joined in the U.S. by his wife and daughter. Now strangers sharing a one-bedroom apartment, they discover a shared love of dance that may help them overcome the distance between them.
    STARRING: Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Zainab Jah, Jayme Lawson, Nana Mensah, Joie Lee, Marcus Scribner

  4. "Land" (Focus Features)
    WRITER(S): Jesse Chatham, Erin Dignam , Liz Hannah
    OSCAR HISTORY:: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Robin Wright
    SYNOPSIS: A bereaved woman seeks out a new life, off the grid in Wyoming.
    STARRING: Robin Wright, Demián Bichir, Kim Dickens, Warren Christie

  5. "Wander Darkly" (Lionsgate)
    WRITER(S)::Tara Miele
    OSCAR HISTORY:: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Tara Miele
    SYNOPSIS: New parents Adrienne and Matteo are forced to reckon with trauma amidst their troubled relationship. They must revisit the memories of their past and unravel haunting truths in order to face their uncertain future.
    STARRING: Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Beth Grant, Vanessa Bayer

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each.

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)

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