February 23, 2023

2023 Academy Awards Nomination Breakdown: Best Original Screenplay

The Academy Awards are airing live on March 12, and for the first time, I have set out to break down every nominee in every category in order to assess, as accurately as I can, who and what has the best chance of winning. Today I will be discussing the nominees for Best Original Screenplay!

The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh began his entertainment career as a playwright, so it stands to reason that his darkly hilarious script for Banshees would snag a nod at this year’s awards. Tragedy and comedy are a tricky combination, but McDonagh’s empathetic character work and excellent scene building are key to striking that balance.

Read my review of The Banshees of Inisherin here.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

One of the kookiest and zaniest scripts of the year (and perhaps one of the most ambitious of all time) is the one that made me cry, gasp and laugh the hardest I ever have at a first watch. Everything Everywhere All At Once is a visual treat, but everything starts with the script — and the Daniels know how to elicit emotion better than most. Its shocks are its strengths, but the real value lies in the passion, clearly present all over this movie.

The Fabelmans

If Glass Onion and Top Gun: Maverick are qualified for the ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ category, purely on the merit of being sequels, why should Spielberg’s fictionalized re-telling of his own early life fall into the ‘original’ category? Regardless of placement, The Fabelmans does indeed have a fantastic script (co-authored by Spielberg and playwright Tony Kushner, who also collaborated with the director on West Side Story) that speaks beautifully on dreams, passions, young love, and a multitude of other engaging subjects.


TÁR is perhaps the most topical film in this category, if in subject matter alone. The character work is incredibly tricky — we’re invited into the headspace of Lydia Tár, while not required to sympathize or empathize with her in any way. The film itself can be dense, but its themes and motifs are crystal clear, if a little overdone at times.

Read my review of TÁR here.

Triangle of Sadness

It can be tough to categorize exactly what Triangle of Sadness’ attitude towards its characters is, but what’s crystal clear is that they don’t deserve salvation. It rejects capitalism nor socialism, but doesn’t endorse them either, giving us a statement beyond the par-for-the-course conclusion that “rich people are awful.” Despite how viscerally uncomfortable and explicitly gross it can get, that’s the way the world works…and we all know how difficult that is to change. Every screenplay nominated this year was written by the film’s director, and everything here is par for the course when it comes to Ruben Östlund — class commentary, with enough dark comedy and whip-smart one-liners to make a meal of.

Read my review of Triangle of Sadness here.

What Will Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once

What Should Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once
What Should Have Been Nominated: NopeBabylon
My Unrealistic Dream Nominations: Barbarian, The Northman, The Menu, RRR


  1. Let's see, what did I miss? The screenwriters branch of the Academy has certain rules, which we may or may not agree with, but clearly by developing Glass Onion and Top Maverik one-off characters or situations that dealt with sequels, they could not aspire to take places as original screenplays. It doesn't matter that the story, plot and situations explored in the new films are invented expressly for the story and don't exist in any other material. In the awards world it's an adaptation, but nothing could be further from the truth. In 2013 journalist Mark Harris wrote an interesting article for Grantland in which he reflects on the categorization of screenplays.

    Toy Story 3 (2010) is by all accounts an original story, yet it competed as an adaptation for being a sequel. None of the characters and plot of "The Fabelmans" had been brought to the big screen before Steven Spielberg, so the film is competing in the right category.

  2. Now, as far as this year's competition in original screenplay is concerned, the Oscar race seems to be hypothetically reduced to three names: McDonagh and the Daniels. And it is in this category where it is presumably going to be defined the one that a couple of minutes later will end up being consecrated with the award in the queen category.

    McDonagh is one of the most interesting directors of our time. The Anglo-Irish director makes a film every five years, maybe that's why he is not as deep in the collective imagination as other filmmakers. But the extreme way of telling reality, which is inevitably a tragedy and his style, leads us to accept the farce and black humor of his stories. He already proved it with the brilliant "In Bruges". For the undersigned, it is the best screenplay among the nominees, an exquisite black comedy of the twists and turns of the human being that could well be the dark horse on Oscar night.

    On the other side of the spectrum, the Daniels use absurdity as the most important thing in their film, the perfect balance between the seriousness of the Wang family's interpersonal relationships and the extravagance of multiverses with their ironic logic. Although the comedy is simple and the stupidest things are the ones that cause laughter, it is still a pastiche of nihilism that stands out most in the brilliant direction of the actors.

    But if there is room for surprise in this category, it can come from the hands of Steven Spielberg and Tony Kusher with their great love letter to the big screen, which will surely garner the votes of the most conservative and passionate sector of the AMPAS. After all, the most classic of American filmmakers builds a beautiful and powerful tribute to cinema that leaves no one indifferent.