Oscar Analysis 2014: Breaking Down The Best Adapted Screenplay Race

By Eric Eisenberg 2014-01-23 00:57:33discussion comments
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Last year’s Best Adapted Screenplay contenders at the Academy Awards competed in one of the most competitive categories of the night, with movies like Life of Pi, Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook going head to head. But by the time it was all over, the literal Best Picture had won. Chris Terrio, a relative newcomer to the industry, took home the Oscar for his work crafting the script for Ben Affleck’s Argo, ultimately making it one of the most agreeable wins of the night.

But now nearly a full year has passed and there are five new titles fighting to say that they had the Best Adapted Screenplay of 2013. Will it be The Wolf of Wall Street that picks up the prize this year, or maybe Philomena? Does Before Midnight stand a chance against 12 Years A Slave, or could the prize wind up going to Captain Phillips? Allow us to break it down.

Philomena
DARK HORSES: Philomena and Captain Phillips
As a general rule, any film that has been nominated for a major Academy Award like Best Adapted Screenplay likely has a lot going for it - but within every category there are titles that have a good chance of winning and those that don’t. These are the ones that fit into the second group.

Stephen Frears’ Philomena is one of the biggest surprises of this year’s lineup of Oscar nominees, collecting three other nods in addition to Best Adapted Screenplay, but the truth is that there isn’t a very good chance writers Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope will go home with a prize this year. The film was a critical darling when it came out last November and The Weinstein Company has worked hard to make sure that critics associations have paid attention to it as they’ve voted for their favorite titles over the last few weeks, but the truth is that Philomena is a movie that will likely be satisfied just with the notice it’s gotten so far.

Paul Greengrass’ Captain Phillips certainly has a higher profile than Philomena and was also one of the best reviewed films of the year, but the chances for Billy Ray’s script in the Best Adapted Screenplay category look slim. The film took a big blow when Tom Hanks wasn’t named as a contender in the Best Actor category, and while the movie and Ray have picked up plenty of nominations during this year’s award season, not many of them have actually resulted in wins.
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