By nabbing an adapted screenplay nom, Sacha Baron Cohen and friends pulled one last reveal on the moviegoing public -- and once more, forced people to rethink their Oscar-night expectations.
Plenty of folks weren't even aware "Borat" had a screenplay until it received a Writers Guild nom. (The Golden Globes, which provided the forum for Cohen's memorable comedy actor acceptance speech, did not offer the same.) According to the L.A. Times, Cohen said he sent 20th Century Fox a five-page outline but secretly had retained a 60-page blueprint and goals for each scene.
Having earned a nomination with what amounts to an anticampaign in the category, all kinds of momentum could build for "Borat" now, considering that this is the pic's only nom. As the notion that the film was scripted gains traction, perhaps all that "Borat" has to fear is one last backlash from those who fell in love with the film believing it was seat-of-the-pants improvisation.
Well, that or the fact that the category brings other strong contenders to the table.
While speculation unsurprisingly centered on Martin Scorsese's chances of winning his long-awaited directing Oscar for "The Departed," screenwriter William Monahan quietly dominated pre-Oscar kudos, earning 10 nominations (including WGA) and five wins. "Borat" might be the brash Ali in this fight, but "Departed" could be the power-punching Frazier that scores the victory by decision.
The little people, meanwhile, will be rooting for "Little Children" -- adapted by Todd Field and Tom Perrotta from Perrotta's novel -- which scored early victories with reviewers before getting lost in the shuffle once another "Little" movie, "Little Miss Sunshine," put its Oscar campaign into overdrive. Separated here from the original screenplay of "Sunshine," "Little Children" might find salvation as the underdog. Field and Perrotta produced a script that felt like great literature, and Field stands as the only previous Oscar nom in the category.
A film that had adapted screenplay candidacy written all over it, "Notes on a Scandal" will also be reckoned with. Patrick Marber's pages gained wide appreciation for delivering melodrama in the best sense of the word. With Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett garnering acting noms, there is a solid base of support for the film.
Beyond "Borat," the biggest surprise nomination in this category was "Children of Men," a work many observers regarded as a triumph of Alfonso Cuaron's direction and Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography more than the script, which took on a fair share of nitpicking. The film has graced many top-10 lists, and a win here would be a sweet victory for those who think it might've been shortchanged elsewhere. ...