July 10, 2014

“Unbroken” by Angelina Jolie: Best Adapted Screenplay contender

Unbroken concentration camp 600x266

As you fine folks all must know by now, it’s one thing entirely to read early Academy Award predictions in order to see what pundits like myself think will happen this winter, but it’s a whole separate thing to actually know something about who and what will be in contention. To help out in that specific regard, I’m continuing to run down some of the major contenders in each Oscar category in order to prep you all for the season to come. Basically, the format will have me saying a few words about what or who I feel are the top tier contenders right now in said categories, along with a longer list afterwards of many of the other hopefuls that the Academy might potentially take a shine to. Consider this a sort of before the awards season cheat sheet to have in your back pocket.

Today I’m continuing on from the acting categories and hitting the writing ones…starting with Best Adapted Screenplay

Here are the ten particular films/scripts that I have in play for Best Adapted Screenplay, with the top five cracking the unofficial lineup at this point:

1. Unbroken – Angelina Jole’s World War II epic has a heavyweight group of writers involved, namely Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, William Nicholson, and Richard LaGravenese. That’s perhaps the most A list screenplay ever, and one of the many reasons why I have this as a huge Oscar contender. Right now, it has to be one of the top players in Adapted Screenplay. I have it winning right now, but some other options could certainly wind up heavily challenging it before all is said and done.

2. Inherent Vice – Filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson has never won an Oscar, despite having a few screenplays in contention previously, but maybe this is the year for him. PTA seems like more of a hopeful in Best Director usually, but his move from Original to Adapted (There Will Be Blood was his first) screenplays might give him a new and better opportunity. If the movie winds up a big player, I can see him potentially getting the win here.

3. Rosewater – Can Jon Stewart write a film? We know he can write comedy, but this is something completely different. I’m cautiously optimistic, since if he hits this one out of the park, it’s a surefire contender. We won’t know for a while now about this hopeful, but once the first screenings begin, we’ll have an idea about how seriously to take it. Something tells me it could be a big one.

4. Men, Women, & Children – Jason Reitman nearly won this category for Up in the Air a few years back, so this time around he has to be heavily considered for the adaptation of Chad Kultgen’s novel that he did with Erin Cressida Wilson. The novel is excellent and has a lot of potential as a film, so if Reitman puts his own spin on it that the Academy is interested in, I could see this also contending for the win.

5. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn adapted her own novel for David Fincher and that’s what gives some pause. Is she a screenwriter? I’m sure Fincher can do his thing no matter what, but if the script isn’t up to snuff, not only will it prevent it from seriously contending for Best Picture, it’ll fall out of the Adapted race here. The newest trailer looked great though, so perhaps I’m just worried over nothing.

6. The Fault in Our Stars – I wrote about the supremely talented writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber here fairly recently, and now they can continue to hope for their first citation by the Academy. At one point it seemed a little more likely than it does now, but all this tearjerker needs is just one big precursor mention and it’ll be back heavily in the game. Stay tuned on this one…

7. Wild – Nick Hornby got a nomination for his adaptation of An Education and will seek another one here this year. This is likely to be a player for Reese Witherspoon in Best Actress, so that’s a plus. If the film can get into Best Picture, that’ll make Hornby a likely nominee here, even if it seems unlikely that he can win this time around.

8. Kill the Messenger – A bit of an X factor, this script by Peter Landesman could either be a big time player or fade away quickly. The trailer had promise, but it could come down to whether Jeremy Renner is a big player in Best Actor or not. We shall see how that race unfolds, as it will surely impact this one as well.

9. Whiplash – Since Damien Chazelle expanded his own short for this highly praised drama out of Sundance, he’ll most likely have to compete here in Adapted instead of Original, and that hurts his chances somewhat. Still, he’s definitely in play here and if he winds up getting into Original instead, his chances will only improve. With J.K. Simmons thoroughly in the Supporting Actor race, the film won’t be forgotten about.

10. This Is Where I Leave You – A complete shot in the dark. I loved Jonathan Tropper’s novel of the same name and with him handling screenwriting duties, it’s possible that the emotion and laughs from the book translated to the big screen. It’s a long shot and likely too much of a studio dramedy, but anything is possible and I want to be in on the ground floor in case this one is as good as the book.

Next in line I’d have these ten contenders (just sans my commentary here) for Best Adapted Screenplay:

11. Trash
12. Suite française
13. True Story
14. Into the Woods
15. MacBeth
16. The Imitation Game
17. Exodus: Gods and Kings
18. The Homesman
19. The Drop
20. Miss Julie

Finally, here are ten more possibilities to give us a top 30 to cull from, just sans commentary as well:

21. The Hundred Foot Journey
22. Serena
23. The Boxtrolls
24. The Two Faces of January
25. A Most Wanted Man
26. Carol
27. Child 44
28. The Last Five Years
29. Dark Places
30. Under the Skin

That’s what the Best Adapted Screenplay race could very well be made up of ladies and gents. Stay tuned next week for my look at the Best Original Screenplay race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites - www.awardscircuit.com

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