Oscar Watch: Original screenplay contenders

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Andrew Stanton
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon
Story by Stanton, Pete Docter
"WALL-E"
Pros: Stanton and Docter managed to create a Charlie Chaplin-like comedy set in the future and made with the most high-tech computers available. Does it get more original than that?
Cons: Animation rarely gets props at awards time, and voters might overlook the screenplay in favor of the pic's optical majesty.
 
Martin McDonagh
"In Bruges"
Pros: McDonagh's offbeat, violent humor already won him an Oscar for his 2004 short "Six Shooter." And this category is the one where voters are most likely to reward the genuinely original.
Cons: The Coen brothers have scored big with the "violent lark" approach, but they had years to win over Oscar voters. McDonagh still is relatively new to the game.

Martin McDonagh
 

Dustin Lance Black
Dustin Lance Black
"Milk"
Pros: Screenwriters tried for years to pen a dramatic follow-up to the seminal 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk." Black pulled it off and rode a wave of interest following the timely Prop. 8 debate to a WGA win, positioning him as the category's frontrunner.
Cons: Black's screenplay has drawn mixed reactions from people who otherwise love the film. Many argue the documentary was more powerful.
 
Mike Leigh
"Happy-Go-Lucky"
Pros: A writing-directing veteran with great critical respect, Leigh is that artist everyone knows is deserving and should just get the damn award already.
Cons: Leigh has been hurt by his unusual approach to writing, working for months with an acting ensemble to craft his screenplays.

Mike Leigh
 

Courtney Hunt
Courtney Hunt
"Frozen River"
Pros: Hunt's quiet story of single mothers smuggling illegal aliens across the Canadian border could entice voters with its indie starkness and compelling performances.
Cons: Too few Academy members have likely seen "Frozen River" for it to pass the tipping point.
 
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