Gold Standard writer Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, assessing the races, predicting the winners and helping you prevail in your Oscar pools.
And the winner is ... "Argo." And it's not a bad choice. Terrio's screenplay deftly incorporated the lighter Hollywood elements into the movie's thrilling rescue story. Nothing felt forced. And Ben Affleck will be the first to tell you that he simply shot Terrio's script and tried not to mess it up.
That said, it feels almost inconceivable that early-favorite Kushner won't prevail. Outside of Daniel Day-Lewis' lead turn as "Lincoln's" title character, Kushner's deeply researched writing was the most celebrated element of the movie. His screenplay brought the president and his times to life in a way that, aside from the beef of a certain Connecticut congressman, felt truly illuminating. But it likely can't withstand "Argo's" current momentum, which included a win for Terrio last weekend at the Writers Guild Awards.
Unless ... it is "Lincoln" after all, with voters rewarding degree-of-difficulty over the snap, crackle and pop of Terrio's script.
“Amour," Michael Haneke
“Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino
“Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Boal
And the winner is ... "Amour." Michael Haneke's unflinching drama received five nominations, indicating a broad level of support within the academy. Assuming Haneke won't win director, this would be a choice place for voters to pay their respects, making "Amour" the first foreign-language script to win this category since Pedro Almodovar's "Talk to Her" took the Oscar in 2003.
Unless ... Boal and "Zero Dark Thirty" sufficiently rebound from the early controversy surrounding the film. The tide had turned when ballots were out, so it's possible he could follow his Oscar for "The Hurt Locker" with another win. Tarantino ranks as a strong contender too, for another elevated, entertaining exploitation effort.
“Zero Dark Thirty,” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
And the winner is ... "Argo" -- and not just because this Oscar often goes to the best picture winner. Goldenberg's work on "Argo" masterfully cuts between multiple stories and tones, maximizing tension at every turn. BAFTA and the American Cinema Editors already rewarded him, as did the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn., with its first-ever editing award. Even though Goldenberg has another nomination here for "Zero Dark Thirty" (the first double-dip for editing since Walter Murch was feted for both "Ghost" and "The Godfather Part III" in 1991), expect the academy to concentrate its votes on the likely best picture winner.
Unless ... like Murch, Goldenberg's two nominations split the vote. Then it's another below-the-line victory for "Pi."