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2014 Awards Season: Oscar Highlight: Best Adapted Screenplay

February 17th, 2015

The Imitation Game poster

With our annual Oscar Prediction contest underway, now is the best time to look at the nominees and try and figure out who the favorites are and which films should just feel honored to be nominated. Today we look at the two writing categories, ending with Best Adapted Screenplay. This is also a two-horse race, but one of the horses has a significant, but not insurmountable lead.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for writing and not other categories. Also, for writing teams, they are combined totals with each film counting as one nomination regardless of how many members were part of the previous team.)

Best Original Screenplay

Paul Thomas Anderson for Inherent Vice
Tomatometer Score: 72% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: Three Oscars, Three BAFTAs, Four WGAs, and one Independent Spirit Award
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Paul Thomas Anderson is due for a win, but Inherent Vice's reviews are just not that good. Also, it didn't earn any other major Awards Season nominations, so it is a really long shot to win here.

Damien Chazelle for Whiplash
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA and BAFTA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Writers' Previous Major Nominations: None
Writers' Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This film has earned some of the best reviews of the year and I would be absolutely shocked if it didn't win at least one Oscar. It could win here; in fact, it is one of only two nominees that have a legitimate shot at winning. Unfortunately, it hasn't won the previous two times it was nominated, so it isn't the true favorite. That said, with those reviews and the overall buzz, you can't dismiss its chances.

Jason Hall for American Sniper
Tomatometer Score: 73% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA and BAFTA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: None
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: I'm puzzled by all of the Awards Season success American Sniper has earned so far, as 73% positive reviews are simply not award-worthy.

Anthony McCarten for The Theory of Everything
Tomatometer Score: 79% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: BAFTA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: BAFTA
Writers' Previous Major Nominations: None
Writers' Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: The Theory of Everything is the archetypal Oscar-bait movie, except for its reviews, which are below expectations. This has helped the film earn a large number of nominations and it should win at least one Oscar. However, it very likely won't win in this category.

Graham Moore for The Imitation Game
Tomatometer Score: 89% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA, Golden Globes, and BAFTA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: WGA
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: None
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This is Graham Moore's first feature film and it looks like he will win an Oscar for it. That's impressive. He isn't a lock and there's a chance Whiplash will win, but I think The Imitation Game is the two-to-one favorite at this point.

Conclusion: The Imitation Game has an edge over Whiplash and will likely win. However, if Whiplash wins, it won't be the biggest surprise of the night. On the other hand, the other three nominees don't have the reviews to justify their Oscar nomination, never mind winning.


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Filed under: Awards Season, The Theory of Everything, Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash, The Imitation Game, American Sniper, Paul Thomas Anderson, Damien Chazelle, Anthony McCarten, Graham Moore, Jason Hall