Oscars 2017 Category Breakdown: Best Adapted Screenplay
Every year, as we lead up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category; what the trends are, how the guilds and stuff help (or don’t), etc. I also do it as a precursor to my giant Oscar ballot. I get most of the heavy lifting out of the way here, so that way when I get to the article, I’m just kind of riffing on how I think it’ll turn out and talking myself into all the bad decisions. It’s like college. And this is the pregame.
How these articles work is — I give you all the previous winners and nominees of each of the categories, then tell you how accurate each of the respective guilds and precursors are in what they vote for versus what wins the Oscar, tell you how each of them voted this year, then give you this year’s category, along with a quick rundown of how we ended up with that category (what was a surprise, etc). After that, I rank each of this year’s nominees in terms of how I see them right now in terms of their likelihood to win. Which is nothing more than my perception (notice that underline, even though you won’t) of how the category seems at the moment based on everything I know and have seen. Which will give you a general sense of the favorites.
Today is Best Adapted Screenplay. You can tell my confidence in how categories will turn out by how long before the guilds announce that I go over the categories.
|Year||Best Adapted Screenplay Winners||Other Nominees|
|1927-1928||Seventh Heaven||Glorious Betsy
The Jazz Singer
|1928-1929||The Patriot||The Cop
In Old Arizona
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney
Our Dancing Daughters
Sal of Singapore
A Woman of Affairs
Wonder of Women
|1929-1930||The Big House||All Quiet on the Western Front
Street of Chance
|1930-1931||Cimarron||The Criminal Code
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
|1932-1933||Little Women||Lady for a Day
|1934||It Happened One Night||The Thin Man
|1935||The Informer||The Lives of a Bengal Lancer
Mutiny on the Bounty
|1936||The Story of Louis Pasteur||After the Thin Man
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
My Man Godfrey
|1937||The Life of Emile Zola||The Awful Truth
A Star is Born
You Can’t Take It With You
|1939||Gone With the Wind||Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
|1940||The Philadelphia Story||The Grapes of Wrath
The Long Voyage Home
|1941||Here Comes Mr. Jordan||Hold Back the Dawn
How Green Was My Valley
The Little Foxes
The Maltese Falcon
|1942||Mrs. Miniver||49th Parallel
The Pride of the Yankees
The Talk of the Town
The More the Merrier
The Song of Bernadette
Watch on the Rhine
|1944||Going My Way||Double Indemnity
Meet Me in St. Louis
|1945||The Lost Weekend||Mildred Pierce
Pride of the Marines
The Story of G.I. Joe
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
|1946||The Best Years of Our Lives||Anna and the King of Siam
Rome, Open City
|1947||Miracle on 34th Street||Boomerang
|1948||The Treasure of the Siera Madre||A Foreign Affair
The Snake Pit
|1949||A Letter to Three Wives||All the King’s Men
The Fallen Idol
|1950||All About Eve||The Asphalt Jungle
Father of the Bride
|1951||A Place in the Sun||The African Queen
A Streetcar Named Desire
|1952||The Bad and the Beautiful||5 Fingers
The Man in the White Suit
The Quiet Man
|1953||From Here to Eternity||The Cruel Sea
|1954||The Country Girl||The Caine Mutiny
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
|1955||Marty||Bad Day at Black Rock
East of Eden
Love Me or Leave Me
|1956||Around the World in 80 Days||Baby Doll
Lust for Life
|1957||The Bridge on the River Kwai||Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
12 Angry Men
|1958||Gigi||Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Horse’s Mouth
I Want to Live!
|1959||Room at the Top||Anatomy of a Murder
The Nun’s Story
Some Like It Hot
|1960||Elmer Gantry||Inherit the Wind
Sons and Lovers
Tunes of Glory
|1961||Judgment at Nuremberg||Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The Guns of Navarone
West Side Story
|1962||To Kill a Mockingbird||David and Lisa
Lawrence of Arabia
The Miracle Worker
|1963||Tom Jones||Captain Newman, M.D.
Lilies of the Field
Sundays and Cybele
|1964||Becket||Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
My Fair Lady
Zorba the Greek
|1965||Doctor Zhivago||Cat Ballou
Ship of Fools
A Thousand Clowns
|1966||A Man for All Seasons||Alfie
The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
|1967||In the Heat of the Night||Cool Hand Luke
In Cold Blood
|1968||The Lion in Winter||The Odd Couple
|1969||Midnight Cowboy||Anne of the Thousand Days
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
I Never Sang for My Father
Lovers and Other Strangers
Women in Love
|1971||The French Connection||A Clockwork Orange
The Garden of the Finzi Continis
The Last Picture Show
Pete ‘n’ Tillie
|1973||The Exorcist||The Last Detail
The Paper Chase
|1974||The Godfather Part II||The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Murder on the Orient Express
|1975||One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest||Barry Lyndon
The Man Who Would Be King
Profumo di donna
The Sunshine Boys
|1976||All the President’s Men||Bound for Glory
The Seven Per-Cent Solution
Voyage of the Damned
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
That Obscure Object of Desire
Heaven Can Wait
Same Time, Next Year
|1979||Kramer vs. Kramer||Apocalypse Now
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Romance
|1980||Ordinary People||Breaker Morant
Coal Miner’s Daughter
The Elephant Man
The Stunt Man
|1981||On Golden Pond||The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Pennies from Heaven
Prince of the City
|1983||Terms of Endearment||Betrayal
|1984||Amadeus||Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes
The Killing Fields
A Passage to India
A Soldier’s Story
|1985||Out of Africa||The Color Purple
Kiss of the Spider Woman
The Trip to Bountiful
|1986||A Room with a View||Children of a Lesser God
The Color of Money
Crimes of the Heart
Stand by Me
|1987||The Last Emperor||The Dead
Full Metal Jacket
My Life as a Dog
|1988||Dangerous Liaisons||The Accidental Tourist
Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
|1989||Driving Miss Daisy||Born on the Fourth of July
Enemies, a Love Story
Field of Dreams
My Left Foot
|1990||Dances with Wolves||Awakenings
Reversal of Fortune
|1991||The Silence of the Lambs||Europa Europa
Fried Green Tomatoes
The Prince of Tides
|1992||Howards End||Enchanted April
A River Runs Through It
Scent of a Woman
|1993||Schindler’s List||The Age of Innocence
In the Name of the Father
The Remains of the Day
|1994||Forrest Gump||The Madness of King George
The Shawshank Redemption
|1995||Sense and Sensibility||Apollo 13
Leaving Las Vegas
|1996||Sling Blade||The Crucible
The English Patient
|1997||L.A. Confidential||Donnie Brasco
The Sweet Hereafter
Wag the Dog
The Wings of the Dove
|1998||Gods and Monsters||Out of Sight
A Simple Plan
The Thin Red Line
|1999||The Cider House Rules||Election
The Green Mile
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
O Brother Where Art Thou?
|2001||A Beautiful Mind||Ghost World
In the Bedroom
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
|2002||The Pianist||About a Boy
|2003||The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||American Splendor
City of God
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries
The Constant Gardener
A History of Violence
|2006||The Departed||Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Children of Men
Notes on a Scandal
|2007||No Country for Old Men||Atonement
Away from Her
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
There Will Be Blood
|2008||Slumdog Millionaire||The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
|2009||Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire||District 9
In the Loop
Up in the Air
|2010||The Social Network||127 Hours
Toy Story 3
|2011||The Descendants||The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
|2012||Argo||Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
|2013||12 Years a Slave||Before Midnight
The Wolf of Wall Street
|2014||The Imitation Game||American Sniper
The Theory of Everything
|2015||The Big Short||Brooklyn
The WGA is the main precursor here, which is still only helpful to an extent, because a lot of times things are ineligible at the WGA and end up nominated at the Oscars.
That said, here’s how the WGA does vs. the Oscars:
- 2016: Moonlight won both (while technically being nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the WGA), and the category matched 3/5 (though 4/5, since we knew Moonlight would get on and technically it was nominated at the WGA).
- 2015: The Big Short won both and the category matched 3/5.
- 2014: The Imitation Game won both and the category matched 4/5.
- 2013: 12 Years a Slave wasn’t eligible, and we knew that was gonna win, so that category is a wash. Captain Phillips won the WGA.
- 2012: Argo won both and the category matched 4/5.
- 2011: The Descendants won both and the category matched 3/5.
- 2010: The Social Network won both, and the category matched 3/5.
- 2009: Up in the Air won WGA and Precious won the Oscar, and those were the only two that matched both categories.
- 2008: Slumdog won both and they matched 4/5.
- 2007: No Country won both and the categories matched 3/5.
- 2006: The Departed won both and the categories matched 3/5.
- 2005: Brokeback won both and the categories matched 4/5.
- 2004: Sideways won both and the categories matched 3/5.
- 2003: Return of the King won the Oscar, American Splendor won the WGA and they matched 4/5.
- 2002: The Pianist won the Oscar, the Hours won the WGA (I’m guessing The Pianist wasn’t eligible for WGA) and the categories matched 4/5.
- 2001: A Beautiful Mind won both and the categories matched 3/5.
They’re generally pretty good.
BAFTA meanwhile… in the years where the WGA was wrong… last year, Moonlight went Original for them too and lost that category, so that’s a wash. 2009, they also had Up in the Air and were also wrong. 2003, they had Return of the King (and we all knew that was winning regardless). 2002, they had Adaptation and not The Pianist. So if WGA is wrong, BAFTA tends to be wrong too, if you can’t already know the winner without them.
BFCA… they had Moonlight as Original and it lost there (to Manchester by the Sea, which also won BAFTA Original and won the Oscar for Original. So it’s not like they were straight up wrong. The category differences were the cause of that). They also tend to go their own way on the Screenplay categories and can’t really be considered helpful. But in 2009 they also had Up in the Air and before that they had one Screenplay category, which helps no one.
So yeah, WGA is the most helpful unless there’s an ineligible. However they don’t announce til tomorrow night, so that will only either confirm or deny what I’m about to say here. Fortunately, the Oscar category and the WGA category are straight up the same, so that’ll help us out there.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name
The Disaster Artist
This was a year where the original screenplays were stronger than the adapted ones, so this category was left in a situation where there were legitimately four very strong choices that we all knew would make it (Call Me By Your Name, Molly’s Game, Mudbound and The Disaster Artist), and then two others that were competing for that final spot, Logan and Wonder. BFCA had the same top four and Wonder as the fifth, the WGA had Logan as the fifth. BAFTA, in typical BAFTA fashion, had only Molly’s Game and Call Me By Your Name and nominated Paddington 2 in their screenplay category. So not overly helpful.
Call Me By Your Name has already won BFCA. It will likely win BAFTA (because James Ivory wrote it). And if it loses, unless it’s to Molly’s Game, that’s gonna be a complete wash. And then I can’t imagine it’ll lose WGA tomorrow night. So you all know where this is headed.
5. Logan — Not even The Dark Knight pulled off a Screenplay nomination. This is a big deal. Of course, won’t come close to winning, but the nomination is nice. Unless this pulls off a huge WGA win (so unlikely I won’t even entertain the notion), no one’s gonna vote for a superhero movie. That’s why I didn’t think, despite the evidence, that they’d even nominate it. But they did. Still, no one will vote for a superhero movie, so the only people you’re getting are the ones who love the film or its director to the point where they’re gonna take this over other, better choices, which I can’t see as being a strong enough contingent to take this anywhere other than fifth choice in the category.
4. The Disaster Artist — I hesitated with making this fifth, because it’s a very specific film and did not resonate with BAFTA at all. However, I think a few people will go, “It was funny” and throw it a vote just because they know Call Me By Your Name will win anyway, probably don’t care for Sorkin and won’t vote for Mudbound because of various possible reasons. The only reason this is fourth is because I assume no one will vote for a superhero movie in this category. This won’t win at all. The nomination is the reward. “Congrats, you made a funny movie out of a weird premise.” That’s all it is. This is so clearly the fourth choice that no one who knows what they’re doing would even entertain the idea that this would win, and would be legitimately shocked if you saw this come out on top on Oscar night. There’s no way this has any sort of support to overtake the other three nominees. Maybe you can make a case for them getting more votes than Sorkin, but you won’t convince me it’s overtaking either Mudbound or Call Me By Your Name. No way.
3. Mudbound — I think I might end up making this the #2 when all is said and done. Sorkin got his Oscar and I think is gonna settle in to just nominations going forward, unless he’s got another huge contender on his hands. This will get a lot of the side votes that Call Me By Your Name won’t get. I know it’s gonna sound bad, but people will vote for this because it was written by a black woman and they want to make a statement. That doesn’t make it good or bad, that’s just what’ll happen. Still not gonna be the favorite no matter what we do, so, for the time being, having only what I have to go on, since Molly’s Game does have that extra BAFTA nomination, until BAFTA and WGA shake out, I’m considering this the third choice in the category. Though I do think when we get to Oscar night, if anything’s gonna beat Call Me By Your Name, this is the one you look to.
2. Molly’s Game — It’s Sorkin, and he hit all the precursors. Of course, as I always say, precursors mean nothing and once you get into the final category, the slate is wiped clean and everything changes. So that’s why I think he’ll end up a third choice come Oscar night. But for now, since he can win the BAFTA, which Mudbound cannot, and because Mudbound completely missed on BAFTA and has the Netflix thing going against it, I’ll put Sorkin as the second choice. Not that it’ll matter, since I think this is also one of the more sure-thing categories of the night, and I think we all know what the frontrunner is and what’s likely gonna end up winning.
1. Call Me By Your Name — This was the favorite throughout the entire process. Nothing in this category looked like it could come close to taking this down. This movie was beloved, it has James Ivory, a three-time nominee for Best Director before this, as its writer, and there’s no bigger contender in the category. It’s got BFCA already, it’ll get WGA, and BAFTA, if it doesn’t win that, then has either Molly’s Game (fair), The Death of Stalin (blank), Paddington 2 (blank) or Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (blank) as its winner, and changes almost nothing. This is your frontrunner, and I think we’d all be pretty shocked if this weren’t your eventual winner come Oscar night.
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