Hollywood Contenders – Looking at Best Adapted Screenplay hopefuls

Moving right along! As you fine folks must all know by now and be potentially sick of hearing from me, it’s one thing entirely to read early Academy Award predictions. You do it in order to see what pundits like myself think will happen this winter, but, as I’ve often said, 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 two writing ones…starting off 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. The Disaster Artist – Starting things off with a bold prediction. Yes, this is a biopic of the maker of The Room. That could give some pause. But, reviews have been over the moon for this one and the writers, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, are the most underrated duo in the business. If this hits, not only can it get nominated in Adapted Screenplay, The Disaster Artist can win. As such, it’s my current frontrunner in the category.

2. Call Me By Your Name – A very traditional feeling nominee, despite the potentially transgressive subject matter. James Ivory has been to the Oscars before, and considering how Call Me By Your Name is a presumed player in a number of categories, it’s silly not to have him here. Many have him as the frontrunner. I’m not going all in just yet, but he’s not far off.

3. Molly’s Game – Aaron Sorkin is always in play for his scripts, so Molly’s Game should be no exception. Nothing suggests that he’ll win another Academy Award for it, but to have him out of the top five at this point is folly. Until proven otherwise, bet against Sorkin at your own risk. He’s such a screenwriting institution, it would almost be weird not to have him in the race.

4. Last Flag Flying – Despite a slightly divisive response at the New York Film Festival, Last Flag Flying should appeal greatly to Academy members. This will benefit Richard Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan, potentially even to the point where this script becomes a threat to win. Getting in will be the hardest part for them. Stay tuned there…

5. Mudbound – Netflix has yet to really crack the Oscar code, but this could be the film to do it for them. Dee Rees and co-writer Virgil Williams might be the easiest play for Mudbound, assuming the streaming service puts together a strong campaign. I’m seeing the movie today at the New York Film Festival, so perhaps I’ll be inspired to move it up even higher afterwards?

6. The Death of Stalin – Comedy is often a difficult play at the Oscars, especially in Adapted Screenplay. Still, The Death of Stalin has to be considered a threat to crack the lineup. The writing team of Peter Fellows, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Fabien Nury, and David Schneider have been hailed for this satire. In the Loop got in once before, so this one could too, without question…

7. Stronger – Don’t sleep on this biopic, which may end up really getting pushed in Best Actor. Stronger has a deceptively good screenplay by John Pollono, so if Jake Gyllenhaal really becomes a thing in Actor, this could happen. It’s ever so slightly on the outside looking in right now, but that could change. Frankly, it really deserves the kudos too, for what that’s worth.

8. The Beguiled – Among early year releases, Sofia Coppola’s remake stands tall. The Beguiled might end up being forgotten about when voting begins, but if it’s not there’s a segment of the Academy that should love it. It’ll just be a question of how many are in that group. Sit tight for more on this one as it attempts to be remembered!

9. Wonderstruck – Ever since the Cannes Film Festival, Wonderstruck has sort of flown below the radar. Brian Selznick’s adaptation of his own book is very family friendly, which sets it apart from the pack, so make of that what you will. If a few other contenders fall by the wayside, it could be right there to take over…

10. Blade Runner 2049 – Ignore the middling box office. Despite something more successful financially like fellow contender Logan (which I almost inserted, and also was co-written by Michael Green, ironically), this long in the making sequel could have a half dozen technical nods. All those noms would make something above the line all the more likely. Green co-wrote here with Hampton Fancher and a citation would certainly establish him as a new Hollywood A-lister. We shall see what happens.

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

11. Logan
12. Victoria & Abdul
13. All the Money in the World
14. Thank You For Your Service
15. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
16. The Lost City of Z
17. War for the Planet of the Apes
18. Wonder Woman
19. Our Souls at Night
20. The 15:17 to Paris

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

21. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
22. Wonder
23. Murder on the Orient Express
24. The LEGO Batman Movie
25. First They Killed My Father
26. My Cousin Rachel
27. The Little Hours
28. Cars 3
29. The Snowman
30. Beauty and the Beast

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 contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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