The Social Network - The easiest call of the night. As good as all the other elements of Social Network are, Sorkin's script is the star of the show. There is barely a scene that goes by without a classic line. Come Oscar night he will have an Oscar to go with his Golden Globe and 6 Emmy's.
Toy Story 3 - Pixar has a great track record in this category scoring nominations for 6 out of their last ten films. This massively popular film isn't going to break the streak, especially with the writing getting lots attention due to a number of widely discussed scenes.
The Town - The shakiest of these five. The Town is a popular favorite but I doubt it's going to come in first on a lot of ballots. But Affleck is a former winner for writing, don't forget, and I'm betting this has enough juice to beat back the competition.
Winter's Bone - Over the Summer this was looking like an Indie Spirit contender at best, but word of mouth spread and the critics rallied at the end of the year to make sure this didn't get overlooked.
127 Hours - Here's where I think the decreasing excitement is going to cost Boyle's film. On first viewing I thought this would get in on the inventive ways Boyle makes the static situation exciting for two hours. But since it's mostly gotten talked up as an achievement of director and actor I think it's going to just miss out here.
The Ghost Writer - Supporters have been trying to push this one into contention all awards season with minimal success. It could still surprise here but if it couldn't pull a Writer's Guild nomination with Winter's Bone and Toy Story out of competition I can't see it pulling one out here.
How to Train Your Dragon - It was looking like a strong contender when it got surprising strong reviews but now Toy Story stole the animated film thunder and it got drowned out by the year end rush of competition. I still wouldn't call it out of the question, but it would be a stunner.
Shutter Island - Scorsese's psychological thriller didn't get the big support of his last few films but it does have a passionate fan base. With Social Network dominating the ballots that leaves room for a wild card to sneak in.
Rabbit Hole - If audiences hadn't been scared off by the heavy subject matter they might have found a script filled with unexpected humor and admirable restraint. I feel it would have been a sure bet if it managed to reach audiences but as it stands I don't see a way this breaks in.
WORTHY WITHOUT BUZZI Love You Philip Morris - Way, way too l casual with it's sexuality for Oscar's tastes, as well as being too small and comedic. Too bad since it attacks this complicated material with energy and clever construction.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Not perfect, but a well-judged adaption from its source material. Picks and chooses from the graphic novel to great effect and it hangs together well as a single story. Never feels simultaneously too rushed and not enough like a certain popular fantasy franchise I could name
IF I HAD A BALLOT
Other Category Close Ups