A heavily male-dominated category this season (but then, when isn’t it?) and with a frontrunner so clear and so far out ahead it almost makes predicting feel like simply an exercise.
I’m talking about Mank, the first and only screenplay by Jack Fincher (father of Mank director David Fincher), the behind the scenes drama of the making of Citizen Kane. The elder Fincher died more than 17 years ago and his script had been lying dormant while Hollywood tried to figure out to get it made. Enter son David. That narrative alone will keep this at the top of the prediction chart and an Oscar will make a nice bookend to Citizen Kane‘s only Oscar win, its screenplay written by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
Aaron Sorkin is looking for another Oscar (he won Adapted Screenplay for 2010’s The Social Network) with his version of The Trial of the Chicago 7, which he also directs. It’s currently in very limited theatrical release and will premiere on Netflix next month. Kemp Powers is aiming to be a double nominee this season, in adapted for One Night in Miami… (where he adapted his own play) and as a co-writer on Disney/Pixar’s Soul, where is a co-director. It would be a first for a Black screenwriter to accomplish in the same year.
Unlike its adapted counterpart, original screenplay is likely to be lacking a female screenwriting contender despite a handful of very viable possibilities that range from burgeoning new talent to Oscar winners. Emerald Fennell (who we’ll see in season four of The Crown as Camilla Parker-Bowles) has Promising Young Woman but Focus Features has been silent on an upcoming release for the film, which was supposed to drop last spring until COVID-19 forced theaters to close. Eliza Hittman has the huge critical hit Never Rarely Sometimes Always (also from Focus), Julia Hart (Fast Color) has Amazon’s I’m Your Woman headed for AFI, Sundance breakthrough Rahda Blank has The Fourty-Year Old Version coming to Netflix, indie darling Miranda July just dropped Kajillionaire (also Focus) and Kitty Green’s The Assistant, with two-time Emmy winner Julia Garner, was an early in the year indie hit. Sofia Coppola has On the Rocks coming next month from A24 and Apple TV+ (Coppola won the Original Screenplay Oscar for 2003’s Lost in Translation) and Callie Khouri (Oscar winner for 1991’s Thelma & Louise) has a story by credit on the upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect. The Oscar have not had a female screenwriting winner since Diablo Cody, in this category, for 2008’s Juno.
Here are my ranked 2021 Oscar predictions in Original Screenplay for September.
1. Mank (Netflix)
2. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Netflix)
3. Soul (Pixar)
Pete Docter, Mike Jones, Kemp Powers
4. Minari (A24)
Lee Isaac Chung
5. Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
The Assistant (Bleecker Street)
Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)
Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, Kevin Willmott, Spike Lee
The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
I’m Your Woman (Amazon Studios)
Julia Hart, Jordan Horowitz
Judas and the Black Messiah (Warner Bros.)
Will Berson and Shaka King (screenplay), Keith Lucas and Kenny Lucas (story by)
Kajillionaire (Focus Features)
Miss Juneteenth (Vertical Entertainment)
Channing Godfrey Peoples
On the Rocks (A24/Apple TV+)
Palm Springs (Hulu/Neon)
Pieces of a Woman (Netflix)
Promising Young Woman (Focus Features)
Tracey Scott Wilson (screenplay and story by), Callie Khouri (story by)
Sound of Metal (Amazon Studios)
Abraham Marder, Darius Marder (screenplay), Derek Cianfrance (story by)