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Oscar Contest: Category Highlight: Best Adapted Screenplay

March 4th, 2010

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 of the categories that I think could give us a surprise.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for writing, not other categories. 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

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche for In the Loop
Tomatometer Score: 93% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: First Screenplay
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: First Screenplay
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 5 (5th)
Notes: This film was an adaptation of a British TV series. All four writers work almost exclusively in British TV. Because they are relatively unknown in the U.S., this might hurt their chances of winning the Oscar. Additionally, the film earned no previous major nominations here, no other Oscars, and it was never able to expand wide during its theatrical run. This all adds up to a long shot. However, that Tomatometer score means you can't count it out.

Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell for District 9
Tomatometer Score: 90% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: First Screenplay
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: First Screenplay
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 30 (3rd)
Notes: This film was an adaptation of a short film that was also written by Neill Blomkamp and represents the first theatrical release for either writer. This movie didn't earn the best reviews on this list, but it was close enough that its reviews won't be seen as a major flaw. Also, it is the biggest box office hit here, which could help. On the other hand, it wasn't even nominated for a WGA award, which makes it an underdog to win the Oscar.

Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious
Tomatometer Score: 91% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Independent Spirit Awards and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: First Screenplay
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: First Screenplay
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 62 (2nd)
Notes: At one time this film was earning the most Awards Season buzz; however, it might have peaked too soon as it was overtaken by Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Then again, neither of those films are in this category. Everything about the movie says it is running in the middle of the pack. Its reviews are third best out of five, its box office numbers are third best out of five, it has earned a couple nominations but no wins so far. Add it up and I come to the conclusion that it is not the favorite to win, but I wouldn't be shocked if it did.

Nick Hornby for An Education
Tomatometer Score: 95% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: None
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Nominations: None
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: None
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 11 (4rth)
Notes: This film had a lot of Awards Season buzz going for it, but by the time it opened theatrically here, all that had fizzled. It only earned three Oscar nominations, it earned a total of just three Guild nominations from four organizations, and its only Independent Spirit Award nomination was for Best Foreign Film (it is British). Given these results, one could argue that it didn't live up to the hype, except that it earned 95% positive reviews, which is the best on this list. Granted, a lot of its praise was thanks to the performance of Carey Mulligan, but I'm surprised how few people think this film is going to win this award, or any award. I think they are right, but not because of any weakness in the movie.

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Up in the Air
Tomatometer Score: 90% 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 Independent Spirit Award and One WGA
Screenwriter's Previous Major Wins: One Independent Spirit Award
Prediction Contest Vote Share: 179 (1rst)
Notes: Sometimes there are factors that make predicting the Oscar win a whole lot easier. This is the only film on this list with a previous major win for its screenplay. That's very strong evidence that its screenplay is going to win on Sunday night. Also, it has earned reviews that are in line with its competition, it is the second highest grossing film on this list, and overall the film has picked up six Oscars. It's not as overwhelmingly favored to win as some nominees are in some categories, but it has a better than 50% chance of taking home the statue.

Conclusion: An Education earned the best reviews, District 9 earned the most at the box office, Precious broke records in limited release, but Up in the Air will likely top them all come Oscar night, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay. On the other hand, it could be the film's only win.


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Filed under: District 9, In the Loop, An Education, Up in the Air, Precious (Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire)