Sizing Up 2014: Best Adapted Screenplay

gone-girl-ben-affleck-rosamund-pike1-600x397We’re coming to the end of the Sizing Up series. This penultimate time around, we’re tackling the Adapted Screenplay race. I willingly admit that my success rate is still to be determined with this year’s crop of articles, but that kind of comes with the territory of Oscar prognostication, and I’m feeling at least as confident as usual. Anyway, both this screenplay article and next week’s final one on Original Screenplay will be a tad lighter than usual, both in terms of the number of films overall and also in the number of big time contenders (mostly this time), mainly because these are the only categories that really limit what you can work from. I did manage to accurately house the five nominees in my Pole Position section last year, including winner 12 Years a Slave. I think most of you will be happy with these rankings. Let’s get on with the list and go size up the Best Adapted Screenplay field!

The “Wishful Thinking” Category

My friends, this is where I’d normally talk about the films/performances I’d say are 100% out of the race, regardless of the quality of their work and how in another world they might be contenders, but I don’t have to this time around. Why? Well, since the Adapted field is just that sparse. If I strained my brain I’m sure I could find a few (like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1), but why bother? Let’s just now move on to some screenplays that actually have a shot, albeit a small one, before this smaller field begins to depress us more than it already does.

The “Dark horse/Long shot” Category

This particular grouping here consists of ten movies that I think ultimately won’t be contenders for their scripts this year, but I suppose aren’t out of the race yet (though let’s be realistic folks). There’s something missing from the equation to really take them seriously. Some of them are a bit bigger contenders than others are, but for me I’m inclined to bet against them all right now. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but I doubt it. The movies/scripts in question are as follows:

guardians-of-the-galaxy-thanos-script-3The Double
Guardians of the Galaxy
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Hundred Foot Journey
Kill the Messenger
Men, Women & Children
The Two Faces of January
White Bird in a Blizzard
Winter Sleep

If we’re being frank, none of these have a realistic chance of cracking the final lineup. If you wanted to really stretch, you could say that Guardians of the Galaxy could be a shocker, but while it’s the most likely of this bunch, it’s still not going to happen. Once upon a time either Kill the Messenger or Men, Women & Children (which many initially predicted to even contend for the win) could have been competitive, but it just wasn’t to be for either of them. Personally, I loved Men, Women & Children, finding it to be a brilliant adaption of a book I adore, but professionally I can all but count it out of the race. I could reiterate this more, but I think it’s best to just move on…

The “Second Tier” Contenders

It doesn’t get much better. These screenplays and their associated films here are slightly more realistically in play for Best Adapted Screenplay, but they still have some rather serious question marks holding them back from the top tier. I’m not sure that any of these will even come close to making it to the big show, but for argument’s sake I wouldn’t write them all off just yet. I don’t see them as big time contenders at all, but like I said, they’re not too far off, at least comparatively speaking. The ten scripts I see in this light are:

tumblr_n42y7y7Aog1r6i18eo1_500The Boxtrolls
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Drop
The Fault in Our Stars
The Gambler
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Homesman
Miss Julie
A Most Wanted Man
Under the Skin

I usually say that I’m sure there’s a version of this year’s race where at least some of these films/screenplays could make up a decent portion of the Best Adapted Screenplay field, but it doesn’t really apply this year, especially when there’s still another dozen films and their scripts to come with far better chances. At one point I felt bold enough to actually predict The Fault in Our Stars, but it’s been DOA since the precursors began (though still one of my favorite scripts of 2014). Similarly, I had a hunch that The Drop could have been a contender, but who even remembers that the flick exists? Exactly. The Homesman is the other potential surprise, though hopefully the lack of quality nips that in the bud. I’ve also seen The Gambler, so I’m confident in not giving it too much of a chance here. Finally, Under the Skin would be a welcome shake up to the race, but we shouldn’t tease ourselves, now should we?

The “Pole Position” Contenders

At long last, some actual analysis to be done. These here are the dozen most likely contenders for Best Adapted Screenplay. As previously implied, the big flicks and their scripts are all housed here, especially with the relative dearth of other contenders in the prior sections of this piece. My personal Oscar predictions consist of a grouping of some of these screenplays, believe it or not. They each have something going in their favor, and seem to be sitting quite pretty for at least some precursor attention. They’re some of the most mentioned films so far this year too, and that definitely helps. Which 12 scripts are they, you ask? Well, they are the following ones:

gone-girl.32.26 AMAmerican Sniper
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Still Alice
The Theory of Everything

As much as this is where the final five will come from, not all of the dozen are particularly realistic players. It’ll be a stretch for American Sniper, Into the Woods, Pride, or Snowpiercer to even come close (though American Sniper could come on strong towards the end), so it’s really eight competing for the five spaces. Essentially locked in for nominations are Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything. I’d be flabbergasted if the ultimate winner in Adapted Screenplay wasn’t one of those three (with Gone Girl currently my upset pick). The other two spots are likely between Inherent Vice, Unbroken, and Wild, with Rosewater and Still Alice potential surprises. Right now, I see Inherent Vice (assuming Oscar voters aren’t confused by it) and Wild making the cut, but I wouldn’t sleep on Rosewater folks. In short though, this is a three horse race, regardless of which other two join them in the final five. It’s just a matter of waiting to see what the Academy goes for.

Check out the official Oscar Predictions for Adapted Screenplay!

Thoughts? How do you see Best Adapted Screenplay shaping up? Discuss in the comments!

What do you think?


Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.


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