Diablo's Oscar Chances

Categories: Film

Now that Diablo Cody has been nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Juno, what are her odds of actually winning?

Slightly better than even.

Cody is pretty much in a two-horse race with Tony Gilroy of Michael Clayton. The rest of the field are worthy competitors but trailing badly out of the gate. Ratatouille is a bet to show, but it’s an animated film, a category easy to dismiss by voters. Lars and the Real Girl and The Savages are smaller films without the buzz of Juno.

There are two arguments against Cody winning. One, she’s the new girl on the block, running against a respected veteran, Gilroy, the writer of the popular Bourne films, among others. Two, there is a danger that Juno has been overhyped to the point that voters may feel that it’s already received all the attention—and then some—that it deserves. One might also argue that the academy is biased toward dramas over comedies, but that’s less true in the writing categories. In recent years, writers have won for Little Miss Sunshine, Sideways, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

But there are several strong arguments in favor of her winning. The most potent: Juno received fairly surprising nominations in several big-time categories: Best Picture (beating out films like Into the Wild), a Best Director nod for Jason Reitman (over heavyweights like Tim Burton for Sweeney Todd and Joe Wright for Atonement), and a Best Actress nomination for Ellen Page (besting better-known contenders such as Keira Knightley for Atonement and Angelina Jolie for A Mighty Heart). That means Hollywood is seriously well-disposed toward the film--an excellent sign for Cody.

Another strong indicator: Cody has already won more screenwriting awards than Gilroy, including head-to-head matchups in the Broadcast Film Critics and Chicago Film Critics contests, plus a win from the prestigious National Board of Review. The Writers Guild Awards on February 9 will provide the most telling clue to the Oscars.

Argument No. 3: Gilroy is also nominated for Best Director. Voters who mark him down in that category may want to spread the wealth to Cody.

Finally, Academy members can be notoriously sentimental. Winning an Oscar would complete the Diablo Cody fairy tale, which might prove irresistible to voters in the business of knowing a good story when they see one. And no matter how accomplished Tony Gilroy may be, Diablo Cody is guaranteed to give the more entertaining acceptance speech. Who wouldn’t want to see that?


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