Writer-Directors Tend to Be Favorites in Screenplay Race – The Hollywood Reporter

Is the screenplay a director’s medium? The Academy certainly seems to think so. Of the 10 Oscar-nominated screenplays this year, eight were written (or co-written) by the film’s director.

The nominees for best original screenplay are Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All at Once, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans (co-written with Tony Kushner), Todd Field’s Tár and Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness. All five are nominated for best picture and also earned their helmers a best director nom.

The adapted screenplay category features three scripts credited to their films’ directors: All Quiet on the Western Front (written by director Edward Berger with Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell), Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson, earning his second Oscar nom) and Women Talking (Sarah Polley). The two outliers are Living, a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru penned by Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro, and Top Gun: Maverick, written by Ehren Kruger, Christopher McQuarrie and Eric Warren Singer from a story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks.

This year’s director-heavy screenplay categories follow a trend: In the past 10 years, 16 screenwriters won an Oscar for a film they also directed. In that time frame, every original screenplay winner was written or co-written by the film’s director, three of whom were also nominated in the directing category (Belfast‘s Kenneth Branagh, Promising Young Woman‘s Emerald Fennell and Parasite‘s Bong Joon Ho, with Bong winning both awards).

The adapted screenplay Oscar however, has been awarded to six directors over the past decade, with James Ivory (Call Me by Your Name), Graham Moore (The Imitation Game), John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) and Chris Terrio (Argo) taking home the prize for feature scripts directed by others.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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