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2016 Awards Season: Oscar Highlight: Best Adapted Screenplay

February 22nd, 2017

Moonlight

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 Screenwriting Categories, finishing with Best Adapted Screenplay. This is a harder category to judge, because the consensus favorite, Moonlight, was considered an original screenplay by nearly everyone else.

(Note: All previous awards listed are only for writing and not other categories. However, they are for both original, adapted, and combined writing categories, depending on the award in question. Previous awards and nominations are not for theatrical and not TV programs, on the other hand. )

Best Adapted Screenplay

Luke Davies for Lion
Tomatometer Score: 85% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: BAFTA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: BAFTA
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: None
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: I don’t want to sound mean, but I really think this film has been punching above its weight-class, so to speak. It is in no way a bad movie, but with a Tomatometer Score of 85%, it is among the lowest for films earning major Oscar nominations. I don’t know if it is the longest of the long shots here, but it is close.

Eric Heisserer for Arrival
Tomatometer Score: 94% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: BAFTA and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: WGA
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: None
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: I would be shocked if this film doesn’t win at least two Oscars, while it could earn four or five Oscars. However, it will likely earn almost all of those in technical categories. It could be caught up in a wave and win here, but I wouldn’t be willing to bet on it.

Berry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney for Moonlight
Tomatometer Score: 98% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: Golden Globe, BAFTA, Independent Spirit Awards, and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: WGA (One Pending)
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: None
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This is a hard film to judge, because practically every other Awards Season organization considered Moonlight to be an original screenplay. It is based on a play, but an unproduced play. So it usually didn’t have to go up against these films. That said, 98% positive reviews is hard to argue against. I expect the film to earn at least two Oscars and this is one of them.

Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder for Hidden Figures
Tomatometer Score: 92% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: BAFTA and WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: None
Writer's Previous Major Wins: None
Notes: This film is quintessential Oscar-bait. It is an inspirational story based on real-life events. Because of this, you can’t dismiss its chances of winning. That said, it hasn’t the biggest performing during Awards Season thus far. It has picked up a number of major nominations, but not a lot of wins. I would love it if it has a breakout Oscar night, but the evidence suggests it won’t.

August Wilson for Fences
Tomatometer Score: 93% Positive
Movie's Previous Major Nominations: WGA
Movie's Previous Major Wins: None
Writer's Previous Major Nominations: First movie credit
Writer's Previous Major Wins: First movie credit
Notes: This film hasn’t lived up to Awards Season buzz. That’s not to say it has done poorly, but it is also not one of the biggest winners either. Fortunately, Fences is expected to win at least one Oscar, but not in this category.

Conclusion: This is one of the least competitive categories and Berry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney is widely expected to win for Moonlight. There is some uncertainty and Eric Heisserer is a long shot with a shot at winning for Arrival.


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Filed under: Awards Season, Lion, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Fences, Eric Heisserer, Theodore Melfi, Luke Davies, Barry Jenkins, Tarell McCraney, August Wilson, Allison Schroeder
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