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Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Adapted Screenplay

February 6th, 2011

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 Best Adapted Screenplay, which is one the categories that I think could give us a surprise. There's a favorite, and one or two that could pull off an upset.

(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 Adapted Screenplay

Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy for 127 Hours
Tomatometer Score: 94% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriters' Previous Major Nominations: Two WGAs, One Golden Globe, and Two Oscars
Screenwriters' Previous Major Wins: One WGA, One Golden Globe, and One Oscar
Notes: The two screenwriters are proven Awards Season performers with plenty of hardware between them (although in Danny Boyle's case it is mostly for directing.) Also, the film has been surrounded by Awards Season buzz for the longest time. That said, it didn't live up to expectations at the box office, while it lost out to The Social Network, twice, and the competition is tighter here than it was at the WGAs, due to differences in the rules. It's a long shot to win.

Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network
Tomatometer Score: 97% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: Golden Globes and WGA
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: One WGA and Three Golden Globes
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Aaron Sorkin is best known for his TV work and has earned numerous awards for shows such as The West Wing. It looks like he will add an Oscar to his numerous Emmys and other awards, as The Social Network has gone two for two on major awards so far. Granted, a couple films on this list were disqualified for the WGAs, so there might be an upset, but this film is still the favorite.

Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich for Toy Story 3
Tomatometer Score: 99% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriters' Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Awards, One WGA, and four Oscars
Screenwriters' Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Awards, One WGA, and One Oscar
Notes: Out of the two films disqualified for the WGAs, this one has the biggest shot at winning this award. It's reviews were nearly perfect and it was the biggest hit of the year, so the studio will be willing to push it. However, it wasn't even nominated for a Golden Globe, so there's no legitimate way to see this film as anything but an underdog here. An animated film earning any Oscar other than best Feature-Length Animated Film is incredibly rare.

Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriters' Previous Major Nominations: Two Independent Spirit Awards, Five WGA, Three Golden Globes, and Four Oscars
Screenwriters' Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Awards, Two WGA, One Golden Globe, and Two Oscars
Notes: So far this film has been shut out of major wins, while the Coen Brothers have won so many awards in their past that this film looks weak by comparison. Since they've won two Oscars previously, I can't seem them winning again this year. Maybe if they were robbed the past four times they were nominated they would get a lifetime achievement win, but that's not the case.

Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for Winter's Bone
Tomatometer Score: 94% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (One pending)
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This is the sophomore effort from Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, so it is quite amazing that the film was recognized with an Oscar nomination. On the other hand, I don't think it will be able to turn that into a win. It's reviews are tied for the lowest on this list and it was passed over at the Golden Globes. Granted, the Golden Globes only have a combined screenwriting category and the film was disqualified for the WGAs, but it could win an Independent Spirit Award. In balance, it is still a rather big long shot to win.

Conclusion: A lot of people are thinking it's The Social Network's year and it will take home several major awards. I'm not one of them. I think it will miss out on Best Director and Best Picture, leaving Aaron Sorkin's win for Best Adapted Screenplay as The Social Network's most prestigious win on Oscar night. On the other hand, I don't think it is such a large favorite that it has a better chance of winning than the rest of the field combined.


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Filed under: Toy Story 3, True Grit, The Social Network, Winter's Bone, 127 Hours