Nominees: Frozen River; Happy-Go-Lucky; In Bruges; Milk; WALL-E

The cast of 'Milk'
Winner: Milk
A category with little suspense. Dustin Lance Black’s screenplay for Milk just won the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA) Award. It’s the only WGA nominee also nominated for an Oscar. Most important, Milk is the only original screenplay this year nominated for Best Picture. If there is a dark horse, it’s WALL-E, which was ineligible for the original screenplay category at WGA. But despite several nominations this decade, no animated film has won an Oscar for writing, and if WALL-E couldn’t overcome Academy bias to get into Best Picture, it likely won’t prevail here.

Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Doubt; Frost/Nixon; The Reader; Slumdog Millionaire

'Slumdog Millionaire'
Winner: Slumdog Millionaire
Almost a foregone conclusion. Slumdog seems to have unstoppable momentum in this Oscar race. It won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, and it was honored by the Producers’ Guild (PGA), Directors’ Guild (DGA), and Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay, based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup, was awarded by WGA. It’s close to a slam dunk.