1. Tony Gilroy
Gilroy, who wrote all three Bourne films, came up with one of the year's smartest original scripts in Michael Clayton, which also marked his directorial debut. If he is pushed out of the director category by heavyweight veterans, he will likely be the front runner for screenplay recognition.
2. Diablo Cody
Cody has had a triumphant 2007: her witty Juno script was finally made by Jason Reitman and Fox Searchlight and became one of the best-reviewed films of the year. If Juno is this year's Little Miss Sunshine, Cody could go all the way to the Oscar, as Michael Arndt did last year.
3. Brad Bird
Bird took over Ratatouille at a relatively late stage, wrote the script from scratch and came up with perhaps the most sophisticated and unconventional animated screenplay to date. Toy Story, Shrek and Bird's own work for The Incredibles were all nominated for screenplay Oscars, and Ratatouille should follow suit.
4. Steven Zaillian
The long-gestating script for American Gangster finally settled into a two-man groove, with equal screen time devoted to gangster Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts, the detective who pursued him. Although inspired by Mark Jacobson's article 'The Return of Superfly', the WGA has ruled the screenplay an original.
5. Julie Delpy
2 Days In Paris
Delpy, a previous Oscar nominee for co-writing Before Sunset, found her own voice in her acclaimed directorial debut, a talky, amiable two-hander about a relationship facing trouble and cultural divisions during a stopover in Paris.
6. Judd Apatow
He had three films in circulation this year (Superbad and Walk Hard were the others), but Apatow's screenplay for summer smash Knocked Up stands a chance at awards recognition for its blend of whipsmart contemporary humour and sweet, well-observed romance.
7. Tamara Jenkins
For her first film since 1998's Slums Of Beverly Hills, Jenkins wrote a complex and unusual piece about the relationship between siblings coping with the death of their father. Jenkins tackles the subject matter with affecting humour and tenderness.
8. Paul Haggis
In The Valley Of Elah
Haggis and Mark Boal came up with the story and Haggis wrote the screenplay for his eloquent drama "inspired by true events", as well as a Playboy article by Boal entitled 'Death and Dishonour'. Always a favourite with voters - Haggis has won three writing Oscar nominations in the last three years - he could bag a fourth.
9. Adrienne Shelly
Shelly's tragic death denied her the pleasure of seeing the warm welcome received by her last film, for which she has already won an Independent Spirit Award nomination. The low-key comedy about the lives and loves of three women in a smalltown diner was one of the year's surprise indie hits.
10. Steve Knight
Knight, a previous Oscar nominee for Dirty Pretty Things, spun another tale of life beneath the surface of London in his tasty thriller set around one of the city's deadliest Russian crime families.
FURTHER CONTENDERS - ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- Eran Kolirin, The Band's Visit
- Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Feresten, Barry Marder, Andy Robin,Bee Movie
- Kelly Masterson, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
- Woody Allen, Cassandra's Dream
- Pierce Gardner and Peter Hedges, Dan In Real Life
- Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, The Darjeeling Limited
- Dean Craig, Death At A Funeral
- Bill Kelly, Enchanted
- Robert Eisele, The Great Debaters
- Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman, I'm Not There
- Nancy Oliver, Lars And The Real Girl
- Noah Baumbach, Margot At The Wedding
- John Carney, Once
- James L Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, George Meyer, David Mirkin, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti, The Simpsons Movie
- Allan Loeb, Things We Lost In The Fire
1. Christopher Hampton
Hampton has certainly written the best adaptation of an Ian McEwan novel to date, if not one of the great novel adaptations of recent years, adeptly reimagining the elusive third act of the book and weaving the three ages of Briony Tallis into a coherent whole.
2. Joel and Ethan Coen
No Country For Old Men
Cormac McCarthy's great novel of good battling evil in southern Texas was given a strict and faithful adaptation courtesy of the Coen brothers, who masterfully put McCarthy's elegiac rhythms and melancholy to film.
3. Paul Thomas Anderson
There Will Be Blood
Anderson is the first to admit his adaptation of Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel is loose. In fact he invented many of the situations in the film using the first 100 pages of Sinclair's 500-page book as the inspiration; the result is a highly original adapted screenplay.
4. Ronald Harwood
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
A previous Oscar winner for adapting The Pianist for the screen, Harwood takes one of those unfilmable books and makes it work as cinema thanks to the bold internal monologue he creates for the paralysed lead character (and the novel's author), Jean-Dominique Bauby.
5. Aaron Sorkin
Charlie Wilson's War
Sorkin brings his trademark wit and snappy dialogue to this adaptation of George Crile's book about the Texas congressman, giving one-liners aplenty to Wilson and his CIA agent sidekick as they set about secretly arming the Afghans against the Soviets.
6. Sean Penn
Into The Wild
If Penn is excluded from the directing category, he stands a good chance of being nominated as a writer for his complex adaptation of Jon Krakauer's bestseller Into The Wild, telling the story of Chris McCandless' 113 days living in the wild. The film employs multiple voiceovers, shifting chronologies and long scenes without words to powerful cumulative effect.
7. Andrew Dominik
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Ron Hansen was criticised by many for the detail he invested into his novel, as was Dominik for his screenplay, but it is the detail that makes his film such an authentic portrait of the American West and a startling portrait of human nature.
8. John Logan
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street
Screenplay is not the main category for which Sweeney Todd will be remembered, since most of the dialogue is expressed through Stephen Sondheim's lyrics; nevertheless Logan, whose credits include Gladiator and The Aviator, tightens the story and songs into a concise and cinematic package.
9. Wang Hui Ling, James Schamus
Zhang Ailing's famous 35-page novella was adapted into an epic, detailed screenplay by Wang (who worked with Ang Lee on East Drink Man Woman and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Lee's long-time collaborator Schamus. An epic from a novella' Sounds like Brokeback Mountain.
10. Sarah Polley
Away From Her
Polley wrote a spare, simple screenplay for her debut film based on the short story The Bear Came Over The Mountain by Alice Munro, which draws precisely the enduring relationship between an ageing couple before the realities of Alzheimer's disease throws them into disarray.
FURTHER CONTENDERS - ADAPTED S'PLAY
- Matt Greenhalgh, Control
- Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, Gone Baby Gone
- Leslie Dixon, Hairspray
- David Benioff, The Kite Runner
- John Orloff, A Mighty Heart
- Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, Persepolis
- Andrew Wagner and Fred Parnes, Starting Out In The Evening
- Francis Ford Coppola, Youth Without Youth
- James Vanderbilt, Zodiac
OSCAR'S TOP SCREENWRITERS, 1977-2006 (*signifies a win)
1. Woody Allen (14 nominations, 2 wins)
Annie Hall (1977)*, Interiors (1978), Manhattan (1979), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), The Purple Rose Of Cairo (1985), Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)*, Radio Days (1987), Crimes And Misdemeanours (1989), Alice (1990), Husbands And Wives (1992), Bullets Over Broadway (1994), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Deconstructing Harry (1997), Match Point (2005)
2. Oliver Stone (6 nominations, 1 win)
Midnight Express (1978)*, Platoon (1986), Salvador (1986), Born On The Fourth Of July (1989), JFK (1991), Nixon (1995)
3. Robert Benton (4 nominations, 2 wins)
The Late Show (1977), Kramer Vs Kramer (1979)*, Places In The Heart (1984)*, Nobody's Fool (1994)
4. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (3 nominations, 2 wins)
A Room With A View (1986)*, Howards End (1992)*, The Remains Of The Day (1993)
=5. James L Brooks (3 nominations, 1 win)
Terms Of Endearment (1983)*, Broadcast News (1987), As Good As It Gets (1997)
Paul Haggis (3 nominations, 1 win)
Million Dollar Baby (2004), Crash (2005)*, Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
Peter Jackson (3 nominations, 1 win)
Heavenly Creatures (1994), The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001), LOTR: The Return Of The King (2003)*
Charlie Kaufman (3 nominations, 1 win)
Being John Malkovich (1999), Adaptation (2002), Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)*
Eric Roth (3 nominations, 1 win)
Forrest Gump (1994)*, The Insider (1999), Munich (2005)
Fran Walsh (3 nominations, 1 win)
Heavenly Creatures (1994), LOTR: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001), LOTR: The Return Of The King (2003)*
Steven Zaillian (3 nominations, 1 win)
Awakenings (1990), Schindler's List (1993)*, Gangs Of New York (2002)
=6. Nora Ephron (3 nominations, 0 wins)
Silkwood (1983), When Harry Met Sally (1989), Sleepless In Seattle (1993)
Lawrence Kasdan (3 nominations, 0 wins)
The Big Chill (1983), The Accidental Tourist(1988), Grand Canyon (1991)
Mike Leigh (3 nominations, 0 wins)
Secrets And Lies (1996), Topsy-Turvy (1999), Vera Drake (2004)
Barry Levinson (3 nominations, 0 wins)
And Justice For All (1979), Diner (1982), Avalon (1990)
Gary Ross (3 nominations, 0 wins)
Big (1988), Dave(1993), Seabiscuit (2003)
Jim Sheridan (3 nominations, 0 wins)
My Left Foot (1989), In The Name Of The Father (1993), In America (2003).