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Taking a look at potential Best Adapted Screenplay contenders

We are moving right along folks! As you fine ladies and gentlemen 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. BlacKkKlansman – This is a deep category, so I would actually say any of the top four contenders could easily emerge victorious. For the moment, this is the spot where Spike Lee’s tremendous film could get a win. Lee penned the screenplay with David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, and Kevin Willmott, and while writing teams don’t often end up on the Oscar stage, this one certainly could. There isn’t a true frontrunner at the moment, but depending on how things go, BlacKkKlansman may well end up taking the cake.

2. First Man – As much as Damien Chazelle’s film is a technical marvel, this adaptation from Josh Singer is amazing as well. Especially if First Man becomes the one to beat in a number of categories, watch out for it to win here as well. As much as anything else, this is a portrait of quiet grief by Singer, which voters could really take to.

3. If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins again has a strong chance to win Best Adapted Screenplay. He turned James Baldwin’s words into cinematic art with If Beale Street Could Talk. A recent winner of this category, Jenkins may be in line to hold another Academy Award. At the very least, he’s a big time contender!

4. A Star is Born – It could be an embarrassment of riches for Bradley Cooper. Not only does he direct and star here, he co-wrote the adaptation with Will Fetters and Eric Roth as well. The screenplay seems to be the least heralded aspect of the film, but that doesn’t mean it won’t come along for the Oscar ride. The question is only…can A Star is Born pull out a win here as well?

5. The Front Runner – Depending on how the year shakes out, this flick could be a sleeper. Jason Reitman wrote this pseudo biopic with Matt Bai and Jay Carson, both of whom have more of a foot in politics than film, so it has the air of authenticity. The movie may have an uphill battle getting wins, but a nomination like this is very attainable for The Front Runner…

6. Black Panther – Don’t gorget about this one. Ryan Coogler took a Marvel property and, along with Joe Robert Cole, really put his stamp on it. Especially after Logan made it into Adapted last year, the door is open for Black Panther. How this one does will be one of the most fascinating awards season stories to follow.

7. Wildlife – Real life partners Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan also make phenomenal writing partners. Wildlife is a quietly powerful work, one that deserves a big platform. An Oscar nomination would certainly be that. If voters actually see it, watch out for this citation to happen on Oscar nomination morning…

8. Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Here’s another potential dark horse. This adaptation from Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty is one of the few top tier contenders not to also have the director on the writing team. Marielle Heller certainly seems to have gotten strong writing from them, however, so this is definitely in play. If nothing else, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is knocking on the door of a nomination.

9. Boy Erased – Joel Edgerton moves to prestige filmmaking as he wrote and directed this drama. Boy Erased seems like it could be in play across the board, Academy Award wise. If it’s a legitimate threat to crack the Best Picture lineup, don’t sleep on it getting into Adapted Screenplay as well!

10. Leave No Trace – This final slot could have just as easily gone to Beautiful Boy (penned by Luke Davies and Felix Van Groeningen) or Mary Queen of Scots (written by Beau Willimon), but for now, Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini get the spot. Leave No Trace is under seen right now, so if that changes, a nomination could happen. Stay tuned…

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

11. Beautiful Boy
12. Mary Queen of Scots
13. Widows
14. The Old Man and the Gun
15. Mary Poppins Returns
16. The Sisters Brothers
17. Colette
18. The Death of Stalin
19. Disobedience
20. Incredibles 2

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

21. The Miseducation of Cameron Post
22. Annihilation
23. Love, Simon
24. The Kindergarten Teacher
25. Suspiria
26. Lean on Pete
27. Paddington 2
28. You Were Never Really Here
29. Avengers: Infinity War
30. Deadpool 2

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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