2014 Awards Season: Oscar Highlight: Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave 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 will look at the two writing categories, ending with Best Adapted Screenplay. This race is about as uncompetitive as it can be with nearly all analysts agreeing on the likely winner.

(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

Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope for Philomena
Tomatometer Score: 92% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Writers' Previous Major Nominations: None
Writers' Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Philomena underperformed at the box office, so it will likely fly beneath the radar of a lot of Awards Season voters. It only picked up one previous major Awards Season nomination, and it lost out. The writers don't have a track record with the Oscars, so there's no hope of winning a 'lifetime achievement' award. I'm not sure it's the longest of the long shots, but it is a long shot nonetheless.

Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater for Before Midnight
Tomatometer Score: 98% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA and Independent Spirit Awards
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (One Pending)
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: One Oscar and One Golden Globe
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This is one of the best reviewed films of the year. However, this is the film's only Oscar nomination. I guess if enough Oscar voters think it should have earned more nominations they could decide to give it the Oscar to compensate, but that seems like a long shot.

Billy Ray for Captain Phillips
Tomatometer Score: 93% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: WGA
Writer's Previous Previous Major Nominations: One Independent Spirit Award
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This film didn't really live up to the Awards Season buzz, but on the other hand, It did win the WGA, which was a surprise. That said, it didn't have to go against the Oscar favorite, because 12 Years a Slave was deemed ineligible by the WGAs.

John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
Tomatometer Score: 96% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Awards
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None (One Pending)
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: One WGA
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: At one point, 12 Years a Slave was seen as the heavy favorite to be the big winner on Oscar night. However, something has changed and a number of categories where the film was expected to win it has stumbled and become an underdog. Best Adapted Screenplay is not one of those categories. It is widely expected to win and I see no reason to go against the prevailing wisdom.

Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street
Tomatometer Score: 77% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: None
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: Terence Winter has earned a huge number of awards, but mostly for his work on TV. The Wolf of Wall Street missed expectations with critics and hasn't done as well with Awards Season voters either. It even missed out on the WGA, despite easier competition due to 12 Years a Slave being deemed ineligible.

Conclusion: 12 Years a Slave isn't the unstoppable Awards Season juggernaut many thought it would be. That said, John Ridley is still seen as the overwhelming favorite to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.


- C.S.Strowbridge


Date posted: 2014-02-25