Sizing Up: Best Adapted Screenplay 2015

steve-jobs-screenplayWe’re coming to the end of the Sizing Up series for 2015 folks. This penultimate time around, we’re moving on from the acting categories and 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, despite the wide open race. Anyway, both this screenplay article and next week’s final one on Original Screenplay will be a tad lighter than usual, mainly in terms of the number of big time contenders, since these are the only categories that really limit what you can work from. I did manage to accurately predict four of the five nominees in my Pole Position section last year, including winner The Imitation Game (it was impossible to get all five due to the Whiplash hubbub). 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 do that this time around. Why? Well, since the Adapted field is just that sparse once again. If I strained my brain I’m sure I could find a few (like Spectre or Ten Thousand Saints), but why bother? Let’s just now move on to some screenplays that actually have a shot, albeit a very 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…they are). 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:

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Far from the Maddening Crowd
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Mr. Holmes
The Peanuts Movie
Secret in their Eyes
Testament of Youth

My friends…if we’re being frank here, none of these have a realistic chance of cracking the final lineup. If you wanted to really stretch things, you could say that Mr. Holmes 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 a case could have been made for Everest, Freeheld, or Truth, but that’s not happening anymore. It’s over for them, and really for anything here. It’s a top heavy category once again, plain and simple, so this won’t be happening for these long shots. I could reiterate this more, over and over, hammering the point home, but I think it’s for the best to just move on now to some other “contenders”…

The “Second Tier” Contenders

Honestly, it doesn’t get much better as we move along. 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:

star-wars-force-awakens-jj-abrams-injury45 Years
Black Mass
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
The End of the Tour
In the Heart of the Sea
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Walk

As you fine readers of The Awards Circuit know, I usually say that I’m sure there’s a version of the 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 (much like last year), especially when there’s still another dozen films and their scripts to come with far better chances. At one point I might have felt bold enough to actually predict The End of The Tour (which is fantastic and actually deserves the recognition) or Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, but they’ve been on life support at best since the precursors began. Some might be trying to make Star Wars: The Force Awakens happen, and while that would be a welcome shake up to the race, we shouldn’t tease ourselves like that, now should we? You could look at Concussion as a potential spoiler, but I just don’t see it. These are some solid scripts, but they won’t the ones nominated this year, plain and simple.

The “Pole Position” Contenders

At long last, some actual analysis to be done for legitimate contenders. 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:

Beasts of No Nation
The Big Short
The Danish Girl
The Martian
The Revenant
Steve Jobs

As much as this is where the final five will ultimately come from, not all of the dozen are particularly realistic players. It’ll be a stretch for Beasts of No Nation, Creed, The Danish Girl, or Trumbo (the likeliest of this bunch) to break through here, so it’s really eight screenplays competing for the five spaces. Essentially locked in right now for nominations (I think) are Brooklyn, Carol, and Room. I’d be surprised if the ultimate winner in Adapted Screenplay wasn’t one of those three (with The Martian as the other one with a shot to actually win, provided it gets in). The other two spots are likely between The Big Short, The Martian (obviously), and Steve Jobs, with Anomalisa and The Revenant potential surprises still lurking around. Right now, I see The Big Short and The Martian making the cut, but I wouldn’t sleep on Steve Jobs at all though folks. Frankly, it would be a surprise to me if it does indeed miss. In short though, this is probably a three or maybe four horse race, regardless of which others join them in the final five. It’s just a matter of waiting to see what the Academy goes for here.


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

What do you think?

Film Lover

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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