Welcome to Academy Award week! I will be taking an in depth look at some of the categories that make the Academy Awards tick. The first category is Best Adapted Screenplay. The Adapted Screenplay prize is one of the most coveted awards of the night. This award honors films who have adapted source material from books, plays, television shows, short plays, and even other films. If an original film has a sequel good enough to make it in the screenplay category (I do not think it has ever happened) they would have to be nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category because the film would be based on the first film.
Throughout the years this award has become incredibly competitive as more and more films seem to be based on other material. While the quality in the Best Original Screenplay category seems to peak and valley every year, the Adapted Screenplay category has seemed to stay strong picking screenplays with strong writing, which are based on some solid material. The interesting thing about this year has been that it feels as though Hollywood did a much better job with the original work than it did with adapting screenplays. While the five nominees as pretty strong this year, picking five original screenplays seems to have been a tough task.
Past winners in this category have been It Happened One Night (1934), Gone With the Wind (1939), Casablanca (1942), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), The Godfather (1972), and The Silence of Lambs (1991). Although 5 out of the 6 of these films are Best Picture winners only about 35 films out of the 83 years went on to win Best Picture. The Adapted Screenplay trophy tends to go to well written films like Sideways (2004), which the Academy like but to enough to win the Best Picture category. Many times the the screenplay awards become a consolation prize, and I think history will repeat itself again this year, ironically with another Alexander Payne film.
The nominees for this years Best Adapted Screenplay category are:
The Descendants-Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash
The Ides of March-George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon
Moneyball-Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian, Stan Chervin
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy-Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan
This past weekend The Descendants gained a lot of ground in this category winning both the Scripter and the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay. Winning the Scripter does not always mean you will win Oscar, mainly because its decided by USC, but winning at the Writer's Guild and Scripter is a pretty good sign. The Descendants is nominated for 5 Oscars, and while Clooney was a favorite to win Best Actor in the beginning it looks like Jean Dujardin will be swept up in The Artist sweep. This Best Adapted Screenplay will be a consolation prize for this film.
What about the other nominees? Moneyball would be my personal pick, it's one of the sharpest screenplays this year. Moneyball is also written by two of the best screenwriters today, which makes sense. If a film is going to spoil it's going to be this one. Tinker Tailor is an impressive screenplay because it has taken an incredibly long book that was made into mini-series at one point and makes one great film. Ides has a decent screenplay, but it has no shot. I am not a huge fan of Hugo's screenplay, in fact I think it is one of the weaker elements of this film. Hugo's wins will come in some of the technical categories.
Will Win: The Descendants
Should Win: Moneyball