Re-ranking the contenders in Best Adapted Screenplay

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Ahoy there folks. Today I’m continuing on down the line of the big eight categories and re-ranking them all. The latest one to get this treatment, you ask? Why, it’s Best Adapted Screenplay, which will be one of the final few ones that I’m doing in this series (I’ll conclude with Best Animated Feature and perhaps a look at Documentary/Foreign Language Feature before the month is out). Enough talk now though, right? On with the rankings!

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

1. The Imitation Game – In a slightly weak year for the category, you just have to default to the most likely Best Picture winner, and of this group, it’s The Imitation Game. This biopic is one of the two or three top contenders for the big prize, so that gives it a real leg up here. If it winds up winning Picture, this should be a slam dunk as well. If it comes up short though, there could be the possibility of one of the below players sneaking in and stealing the prize.

2. Unbroken – If there’s something still coming to upend this category, it’ll be Unbroken. The potentially huge contender is still sight unseen, so we have no idea if it’s a threat in any of the categories at all. This could just as easily score double digit nominations and compete to win most of them as it could come and go with merely a technical citation or two. If things are closer to the former than the latter though, watch out for this one.

3. Gone Girl – There’s a real X factor/dark horse nature to Gone Girl in Adapted Screenplay. On the one hand, it’s probably the most talked about player in the category, with a big box office and strong reviews to boot. On the other hand though, how much of the credit will voters feel goes to director David Fincher. There’s a chance that this one could be the upset special in Adapted Screenplay. It’s just too early to say for sure, one way or the other.

4. The Theory of Everything – Even though there’s a chance it could miss, my gut tells me that voters will default to another biopic in The Theory of Everything for one of the final spots in the lineup. It’s mainly an acting showcase, which sometimes works in a movie’s favor but also sometimes prevents it from really being noticed for its script. With the weakened field, I don’t think there will be a snub here. That being said, this is a vulnerable one.

5. Rosewater – Call this a bit of a hunch, but I think voters are going to like Rosewater a lot more than critics did (though it’s gotten mostly good notices and I’m pretty big on it) on the festival circuit. The Academy likes Jon Stewart, they’ll likely respond to the material, and with a dearth of other contenders to really consider, this certainly could happen. I’d say to keep an eye on this as the nomination morning surprise that really isn’t a surprise.

6. Wild – Lurking in the shadows, we have Wild. It could certainly find its way into the top five, though right now I have it just missing out. The story is baity, Nick Hornby is a previously nominated writer, and Reese Witherspoon will do her best to bring it along for the ride when she gets nominated in Best Actress. Especially if my hunch above doesn’t pan out, this is what very easily could take its place.

7. Still Alice – If Julianne Moore is to win Best Actress for Still Alice, the movie really does need to show up somewhere else, so this isn’t the long shot some might think. I’m not convinced that it’ll get nominated, but that does go along with the territory of me not thinking that Moore has her category all wrapped up as well. That being said, this is a player to really keep your eye on.

8. American Sniper – At this point, we just don’t know what to make of American Sniper. It could be a game changer for a number of categories (this one included), or it could just be the latest end of year prestige release not to make an impact. A lot will depend on what type of Clint Eastwood picture this is. If it’s closer to his glory days behind the camera, watch out. If it’s something closer to what he’s been doing of late, well…don’t count on a nomination then.

9. Inherent Vice – I’m not sure how the Academy is going to respond to Inherent Vice. They’ve snubbed Paul Thomas Anderson before, so this script, which is probably his most difficult, really could puzzle him. At the same time though, I’m not sure they’ll snub his work completely. It’ll be an intriguing narrative to follow, seeing what voters do with a work they clearly won’t understand.

10. The Fault in Our Stars – Here’s another hunch of mine. Do I think The Fault in Our Stars has a real chance at a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination? Probably not, but I think it’ll come closer than many realize, hence its inclusion in the top ten. The writers are new additions to the Academy as well, so keep that in mind. It’s not a likely nominee, but it’s far from a no shot pipe dream.

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

11. Into the Woods
12. The Gambler
13. Obvious Child
14. The Homesman
15. Men, Women & Children
16. Pride
17. Guardians of the Galaxy
18. A Most Wanted Man
19. Winter Sleep
20. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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

21. Under the Skin
22. The Hundred Foot Journey
23. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
24. Tracks
25. The Two Faces of January
26. Snowpiercer
27. How to Train Your Dragon 2
28. The Drop
29. Kill the Messenger
30. The Double

Well, that’s what the updated Best Adapted Screenplay race could very well be made up of ladies and gentlemen. Stay tuned next week for the beginning of my series wrap up with a look at the Best Animated Feature race!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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