A BEAUTIFUL MIND Akiva Goldsman FOR HIM Proving that poetic license can be truly poetic, the maligned Batman & Robin writer, from Sylvia Nasar’s bio, distilled John Nash’s spirit, personified his mental illness, and created a nail-biter about math; he’s scored with the Writers Guild and Golden Globes. AGAINST HIM Will criticism of Goldsman’s omissions kill Mind’s momentum? 3-2 ODDS
GHOST WORLD Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff FOR THEM Voters looking for an edgy choice can do no better than this biting, perceptive look at high school misfits, music nerds, and doomed intergenerational romance. Extra points for fashioning a rich, deep emotional story from a thin comic book. AGAINST THEM Did we mention that it’s based on a comic book? 15-1 ODDS
IN THE BEDROOM Rob Festinger, Todd Field FOR THEM The screenwriters turned a small-scale Andre Dubus short story into an actor’s dream, with searing portraits of jealousy, grief, and revenge; Emma Thompson, a writer-performer like Field, won this category in 1996. AGAINST THEM Being declared ineligible for the Writers Guild prize hurt their chances. Plus, it’s dark, dark, dark. 3-1 ODDS
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson FOR THEM Jackson and Co. took on one of literature’s best-loved series and produced a faithful yet visionary screenplay. AGAINST THEM The film is less a triumph of writing than of visuals; even if the film sweeps the tech categories, that broom won’t reach this corner. 4-1 ODDS
SHREK Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger S.H. Schulman FOR THEM With an off-the-charts ratio of one-liners per minute, the fable combined a heartwarming message with wicked adult humor. It’s certainly the funniest contender of the bunch (with Ghost World a close second). AGAINST THEM A screenplay Oscar for an animated movie? An ogre would sooner turn into a prince. 10-1 ODDS
THE LOWDOWN Barring a Bedroom upset, it should be a Beautiful night for Goldsman.