How ‘Past Lives’ can take down ‘The Holdovers’ for Best Original Screenplay Oscar


As the Oscars approach, the race for Best Original Screenplay appears to have shifted, with “The Holdovers” leading the pack, but “Past Lives” gaining momentum. Currently standing at 4/1 odds, “Past Lives” has emerged as a strong contender after “Barbie” was reclassified as adapted, altering the landscape of the competition.

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Alexander Payne’s influence on Oscar-winning screenplays has followed two distinct patterns, either securing a single win for screenplay (e.g., “Sideways” and “The Descendants”) or leaving empty-handed (e.g., “Election,” “About Schmidt,” and “Nebraska”). Despite predictions favoring “The Holdovers” for a screenplay win, it deviates from the trend as Payne is not credited as a writer; the script is penned by David Hemingson.

An intriguing pattern in recent years is the correlation between Best Original Screenplay Oscar winners and films written or co-written by the director. Since 2011, every winner falls into this category, such as Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”), Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”), and Emerald Fennell (“Promising Young Woman”). This pattern bodes well for “Past Lives,” as its director, Celine Song, also serves as the writer.

It’s essential to note that Celine Song recently lost the Golden Globe for Best Film Screenplay to “Anatomy of a Fall,” co-credited to its director, Justine Triet. However, history indicates that Golden Globe winners for writing rarely repeat at the Academy Awards, with only “Green Book” (2018) and “Belfast” (2021) achieving this feat since 2015.

If either Song or Triet secures the Oscar, it would mark the fourth consecutive year with a female writer/director winning a screenplay category, following Emerald Fennell, Sian Heder (“CODA,” adapted), and Sarah Polley (“Women Talking,” adapted).

As Oscar predictions evolve, the competition between “Past Lives” and “The Holdovers” in the Best Original Screenplay category adds an extra layer of anticipation to the upcoming awards ceremony on March 10.

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Amelia Smith
Amelia Smith

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