AMELIE Guillaume Laurant, Jean-Pierre Jeunet FOR THEM The machine-gun fast voice-over narration in the film’s first half hour was a bold, riotous gamble unlike anything else in the category. AGAINST THEM Strip away the inventive dialogue and you’re left with a pretty lightweight plot; no foreign-language film has won this prize for 35 years. 10-1 ODDS
GOSFORD PARK Julian Fellowes FOR HIM Older voters — especially litigious anti-ageist writers — may follow critics’ groups in honoring the 52-year-old scribe’s Upstairs, Downstairs riff. AGAINST HIM This category often rewards new voices, from Thelma & Louise to Usual Suspects; much of Gosford Park’s AARP demo couldn’t hear its muffled dialogue or unravel its plot. 3-2 ODDS
MEMENTO Christopher Nolan (screenplay), Jonathan Nolan (story) FOR THEM Watch it. Watch it in reverse. Then watch it again. The Mobius-strip narrative about an amnesiac bent on revenge is more original than anything in…wait, what were we saying? AGAINST THEM Memento didn’t get the broad Oscar support (or campaign) of Gosford Park. ?Academy the for weird too it Is 2-1 ODDS
MONSTER’S BALL Milo Addica, Will Rokos FOR THEM The year’s Rocky-like Cinderella story; two out-of-work actors pen a script so compassionate and touching they’re reborn as screenwriters. AGAINST THEM Even Rocky lost in this category — and for every voter moved by this dark Southern melodrama, there’s another who says it has four plot coincidences too many. 15-1 ODDS
THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson FOR THEM Writers like their clever, literate script (how many Best Original Screenplay nominees would pretend their work was adapted from a book?); actors love the showcase roles their writing provides. That’s two branches… AGAINST THEM General goodwill isn’t enough to best a field as competitive as this one. 20-1 ODDS
THE LOWDOWN It’s New Cool versus Old School — and broad Academy support for Gosford Park should squeak it past Memento.