Let's start with the Original Screenplay award. First up is Lars and the Real Girl, a film that was panned by critics and ignored by audiences. Ratatouille was the opposite - praised by critics and a huge commercial success, but it's animation, and is still looked down upon by many as a "kids' movie." Moving on, The Savages splits the difference - it's a movie that earned raves from critics and, due to minimal advertising and a limited run, was ignored by audiences. There are two films this year that are also up for Best Picture, which augments their odds of winning. Michael Clayton is up for more awards, but Juno is this year's "quirky arty," and this is the category where the "quirky arty" gets its recognition. Michael Clayton's characters are sharply written, but Juno's overall charm and immensely quotable dialogue should push screenwriter Diablo Cody up on stage.
The Adapted Screenplay category is a trickier prospect, with the other three Best Picture nominees showing, alongside two other strong contenders. The others in question are Away From Her (written by actress/director Sarah Polley) and The Diving Bell And the Butterfly. Diving Bell is in French, which I think might be a turnoff in the screenplay category, but the Academy loves to give writing awards to actors, so Polley's chances are elevated. Atonement and No Country For Old Men are both adapted from prestegious books and, of the two, I'd give No Country the edge. As I stated in an earlier post, the Cohen brothers' main strength is their dialogue. Finally, we have the loosest adaptation of the five - There Will Be Blood isn't as much based on Upton Sinclair's "Oil!" as it is inspired by it. Still, There Will Be Blood is the front-runner for Best Picture, and its writing really is excellent on all counts, making it my pick for Adapted Screenply.