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Looking At Potential Best Adapted Screenplay Contenders

We are moving right along with this series 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. Jojo Rabbit – Best Adapted Screenplay really feels like a total shot in the dark this year. So, whichever film you have in the pole position probably makes some degree of sense. Right now, I see Taika Waititi wining for his crowd pleasing satire Jojo Rabbit. Will that remain the case for long? That’s another question entirely…

2. The Irishman – If there’s a safe pick in this field, it’s probably The Irishman. Martin Scorsese’s soon to be seen gangster epic was penned by former winner in this category Steven Zaillian. Furthermore, Zaillian has proven to be a reliable nominee for voters throughout the years. Unless the movie sinks like a stone, he seems at least good for a nod, if not more.

3. The Two Popes – When in doubt, look to something like The Two Popes in Adapted Screenplay. Another previous nominee in scribe Anthony McCarten is responsible for this one, meaning that the Academy could look to reliable former invitees to fill out the grouping. If nothing else, sleep on this one at your own risk!

4. Ford v. Ferrari – Here’s where the Adapted category starts to turn. The top three contenders seem safe for a nom, at least, while Ford v. Ferrari is still looking solid, though not locked in. Scribes Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, and Jason Keller are certainly in a good position, though. They just need the flick to be a thing in major categories, like Best Picture. Do that, and they’re probably in.

5. Little Women – This is a big X factor in the race. Is Little Women just an audience friendly remake? An Oscar juggernaut in the making? Something in between? The answer to that, sometime later on in the year, will heavily dictate whether Greta Gerwig is nominated here or not. For now, we just have to wait…

6. Judy – Watch out for Judy. Initially thought of as just a Renee Zelwegger play, the film is actually solid enough to make some noise here as well. Writer Tom Edge is probably going to be in the top five of this category at some point soon in my predictions…maybe even before the week is out. It just seems like this biopic is going to be huge for Oscar voters.

7. Joker – So much is up in the air when it comes to Joker and how it will play to the Academy. Joaquin Phoenix probably can appeal to them, regardless, but can Todd Phillips and Scott Silver’s script? A huge box office won’t hurt things any, but will the controversy? This is going to be a fascinating story to follow in the weeks to come, for sure…

8. The Laundromat – Netflix has bigger fish to fry, so this movie may have an uphill battle to get noticed. Scott Z. Burns has The Laundromat in Adapted, as well as The Report in Original, so he’ll certainly be on voters’ radars. The question is, will they care enough to go to bat for him? That’s what remains to be seen here.

9. Dark Waters – Without a bow at a film festival, Dark Waters seems poised to be forgotten about in the rush at the end of the year. However, the movie is rumored to be good, which could keep Matthew Michael Carnahan and Mario Correa in the running. At the moment though with this one, your guess is as good as mine. I suppose anything is possible?

10. Just Mercy – This could just as easily have been A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood or Motherless Brooklyn in the tenth position, but there’s a chance that Just Mercy still really connects with voters this year. If that happens, Destin Daniel Cretton and his co-writer Andrew Lanham could just crash the Oscar party at the last minute…

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

11. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
12. Motherless Brooklyn
13. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
14. Luce
15. Avengers: Endgame
16. Cats
17. Toy Story 4
18. Hustlers
19. Frozen II
20. Blinded by the Light

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

21. Downton Abbey
22. Gloria Bell
23. The King
24. Shazam
25. The Good Liar
26. The Truth
27. JT LeRoy
28. The Upside
29. Aladdin
30. It: Chapter Two

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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