Syriana may be full of conspiracies and coincidences, but here's one plot twist its writer-director, Stephen Gaghan, couldn't have invented. Though the drama is based on Robert Baer's book See No Evil and earned a Writers Guild nod for adapted screenplay, the Academy decreed that the script is different enough from Baer's work to be classified as an original screenplay. There's only one problem: No one told Gaghan, Syriana's Oscar strategists, or Warner Bros. of the decision, which actually came down weeks ago. Could this flap cost Gaghan (who won the adapted-screenplay Oscar for Traffic) his second nomination? Perhaps, but we think the writers' branch will nominate Syriana where the Academy wants. In that case, there's now an open slot in the adapted race (A History of Violence's Josh Olson could be the beneficiary), while one contender for original screenplay could be forced out (Cinderella Man?). Herewith, our revised predictions in both categories.
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