2013 Oscar Predictions: First Look at Best Adapted and Original Screenplay

2013 Oscar Predictions: Best Adapted and Original ScreenplayThese are two categories I always have a hard time with considering I don't read scripts before seeing a movie, wanting to go into each and every one of them knowing as little as possible, and I rarely read them after the fact. So what am I basing my opinion on? Gut instinct, buzz around the net, history and anything I can possibly glean from watching the films themselves. To be honest, I don't think the voters are doing anything all that different.

While studios do tend to make virtually every single screenplay up for consideration available to read (which I will make available again this year as I have in previous years), I don't read many of them, though I will browse through them on occasion as I did with the screenplay for Martha Marcy May Marlene last year, which drummed up a healthy amount of conversation. I wonder, though, how many Academy voters actually read those screenplays in search of nuance and potential nuggets of information you can't necessarily take away from simply watching the film on screen?

I do think it is clear there are some occasions where either some attention is paid to the work that's done (or someone does some spectacular campaigning) such as when WALL-E earned an original screenplay nomination. There must have been a few people that also got the word out on Asghar Farhadi's screenplay for A Separation last year as well.

It's these little moments of "will they or won't they?" that make Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay a little harder to predict this early in the game. Let's have a look...

Best Adapted Screenplay

In adapted, Chris Terrio's Argo script looks like an easy front-runner to me. David O. Russell's screenplay for Silver Linings Playbook is certainly in second, I think the claims it is cliche and predictable from even those that love it is going to make it a tough sell to win this category, which could mean movement very soon once some heavy hitters start to screen.

Right now, Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin's screenplay for Beasts of the Southern Wild is likely to remain in the hunt for some time and I expect it to make some indie waves along the way, especially if the short film that inspired the screenplay, Glory at Sea (which you can watch directly below), starts making waves across the Internet.

As of right now, my confidence in the last two slots is limited at best. I've placed Tony Kushner, John Logan and playwright Paul Webb's screenplay for Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals and William Nicholson's screenplay for the musical Les Miserables in slots four and five.

Team of RivalsLooking at previous work from Spielberg, his historical epics (fiction and non) do quite well in the screenplay department including nominations for Schindler's List, Munich and Saving Private Ryan. In addition, Kushner, who is getting most of the screenwriting credit, is hardly a slouch having received an Oscar nomination for Spielberg's Munich and written the heavily awarded "Angels in America".

As for Les Mis, it's tough considering it's a musical, but the year Chicago won Best Picture it too was nominated for several acting Oscars (as I have it at this point), several technical awards and screenplay, though it lost out to The Pianist. It's an applicable comparison in fact, considering I think we might be looking at an Oscar year that plays out a lot like it did in 2003.

All things considered, I have three screenplays in positions six-thru-eight that I could very easily see sliding into the top five including Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain's screenplay for Rust and Bone, David Magee's adaptation of Yann Martel's Life of Pi and Tom Stoppard's screenplay for Anna Karenina.

One I will personally be pulling for is Steven Chbosky's adaptation of his own work for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I fear it will be looked at as a teen film rather than much of a serious Oscar contender, but it, at the very least, deserves the attention here.

And with that, I give you my top five for the time being directly below and invite you to click here to browse my full field of 16 contenders. Titles may be added moving forward, some dropping out, etc. but for now this is how I see this category playing out.

  1. Chris Terrio (Argo)
  2. David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
  3. Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
  4. Tony Kushner, John Logan and Paul Webb (Lincoln)
  5. William Nicholson (Les Miserables)

Click through to Page 2 for a look at Best Original Screenplay...

  • Ron Oneal Fresh

    The Master is in the lead for me.

    QT been nominated a couple times in this category.

    People seem to loved "Looper" why wouldn't that have a chance. Does the Academy not like time travel movies?

    Sure they've usually had plot holes, is that the same w/ Looper?

    could "Ted" get a nom here

    loved Chronicle but it's probably been forgotten by now.

    John Carter?

    ....just kidding

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JoeShlomo/ JoeShlomo

    Seven Psychopaths has a pretty good shot at getting a nomination, seeing as macdonagh won for his first short and was nominated for in bruges, the only two things he's ever done film-wise. and even if you didnt like Seven Psychopaths, you gotta agree that it's well written and insanely imaginative.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

    I really want Quentin to win.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

      I think such a statement is unfair to say, as you clearly haven't seen the film yet. I know your a QT fan, I am too, but as much as I would like to see him win an Oscar, I can't say that I'll be rooting for him until I see the film and know that I like it. Take for instance The Master. I love PTA. I think he's the best director working today, but now after seeing the film, I'm not so sure that he deserves an Oscar.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

        For all you know, I could have read the script... but no, I haven't. I would never spoil a film such as this before seeing it. And I don't feel bad about calling it for QT before I've seen the film since apart from KTS, Argo (both of which are adapted screenplays) and Skyfall, I'm not looking forward to anything else. Even if DU was an epic disappointment, the screenplay would still blow every other movie out of the water. With PT, it could have gone either way. It would have either been amazing, or just good. With QT, it's always amazing.... always.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/SomersetMills/ SomersetMills

          First I have to ask what KTS is, because that's really bugging me that I can't figure it out.
          I also have to say that PTA's track record is considerably better than QT, and that's speaking as a someone who's had Django Unchained as his number one most anticipate movie of the last two or three years.
          Which PTA movie hasn't been great to say the least? Hard Eight and The Master are my two LEAST favorites of his, and those movies are still incredibly impressive.
          QT always amazing? I loved Death Proof (well the second half), but it wasn't amazing, neither was Kill Bill (which was fun), or Jackie Brown (which I also really enjoyed).

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/AS/ AS

            KTS stands for Killing Them Softly.

            I would disagree about about PTA & QT's track record. I don't think Hard Eight, Punch Drunk Love or The Master are great films. My least favorite QT film is Jackie Brown which I gave a 4 / 5. Technically speaking, any film that gets a 4 or above is a great film (by my standards).

            I absolutely love Death Proof and I think Kill Bill is a masterpiece so... we'll agree to disagree about that.

  • Andrew J.S.

    I think the good news for perks is that it's in good hands. Summit has shown they can sneak little surprises into big categories.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/G-Man/ G-Man

    Thanks for the predictions, Brad. They've made for nice lunchtime reading this week. I'm intrigued by your comment that "While the screenplay for Django Unchained has been read by just about everyone, and seemingly loved by all that scoured its pages, the end product has yet to be seen, which will weigh heavily on the voters' decision."

    This is always something I've thought about. Should a screenplay, actor, etc. be looked at by itself or as part of the overall film? Personally, I feel that if the screenplay is loved by all and considered the best original screenplay, then it should win, regardless of how the film turns out. Let's say the movie winds up being a stinker for reasons not related to the script - it has nothing to do with the script itself.

  • http://www,cinemablographer.com Pat

    Is The Sessions an original? I think the film credits an article by Mark O'Brien, although I could just be confused with the post-scripts at the end of the film?
    And if Tom Stoppard does not receive a nomination for Anna Karenina, it will be a crime!

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      I wondered about that too, it might shift categories, but for now I went with Original.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Mv11391/ Michael

    I'm not good on both these categories (maybe a little bit with Original) but i'll try and mention some AS (not you AS haha, I mean Adapted Screenplay) & OS locks, likely & some I really want to go in.

    Adapted Screenplay:

    Silver Linings Playbook, Les Mis & Argo are definitely locks.

    Lincoln likely in.

    I really want The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel & Rust & Bone to get in.

    Best Original Screenplay:

    The Master & Django Unchained are locks

    Moonrise Kingdom seem likely.

    I really, really want Zero Dark Thirty & Looper to get in.

    This movie (one of my top 5 fave flicks of the year) will not get in and seems highly unlikely but I seriously would LOVE Chronicle to get at least some consideration.

    That's all.

  • http://nktkomarov.livejournal.com/ Nick

    I don't really get why Amour's screenplay should be considered award-worthy. The film is neither plot-driven nor dialogue-driven, instead relying almost completely on the direction and the performances to achieve its dramatic power. Sure, you could praise its constraint and Haneke straying away from cheap melodrama, but I'm not quite sure a screenplay should go as far as to win awards for something it isn't / something it doesn't do. A film as a whole? Certainly. It's an interesting thing to think about, though.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Which is why people have to read the script. I haven't read it and it may contain information regarding everything you're referring to. WALL-E was largely silent and yet got a nomination for its screenplay. There is more to a screenplay than just dialogue.

      • http://nktkomarov.livejournal.com/ Nick

        Wall-E was big on ideas though, and only its first 35 minutes were dialogue-free leaving almost an hour for plot and themes' development. Amour is a much more contained film that concentrates largely on a single theme and does so using situations that are more often wordless than not. Good point about the actual script, though - if Haneke actually worked out all those situations to the very last details, he'd deserve the accolades more than if he just briefly described what should happen in each scene and then developed it later on set. Then again, like you said in the article, you have to wonder how many voters actually read the scripts.

        Regardless of all that, I still think that great films that are richer in plot, dialogue and structure should be considered before a great film the greatness of which lies in its constraint and simplicity. So I hope The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Looper and (if it's as good as it should be) Django Unchained will all have a better chance of winning.

      • Arturo

        There is more to a screenplay than just dialogue, The Artist also picked up a nom last year

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    The Academy loves cliche and predictable (The King's Speech anyone?), so I think Silver Linings is the frontrunner for adapted. Les Mis and Argo seems like strong bets for noms and I don't know after that.

    I'm still not sure what to think about Moonrise Kingdom. I want to say that it'll play out a lot like Midnight in Paris last year, but sometimes it seems like the Academy wants to eschew those year-over-year comparisons. Right now I see it as a Best Picture nom and the frontrunner for original screenplay. The Master will be too deep to resonate enough to win. Again, no real idea beyond those two.

  • Jack

    The Master will be nominated but not win. It's too dark and ambigious. Critics have called it lazy writing.PTA's best shot at a win i

    also, isn't The Sessions adapted? All the pundits including gold derby have it listed in the adapted category.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Travis/ Travis

    We agree on all 5 of the Adapted Screenplay, but I don't see Amour being nominated, and I think Promised Land will just outright not be nominated. Don't know why, I just do. I have The Sessions (I think that since it went the biopic route instead of adapting any true works, it qualifies as Original. Sort of like Milk) and Zero Dark Thirty in those spots

  • aza124

    Top 5 Adapted Screenplay:
    1. Silver Linings Playbook (lock)
    2. Argo (lock)
    3. Lincoln (safe bet, it’s Kushner after all)
    4. Les Miserables (could be wrong, too much singing perhaps?)
    5. Life of Pi (great book, but subtext could prove problematic)

    Dark Horses: Anna Karenina (maybe), Beast of the Southern Wild. The Hobbit, and Cloud Atlas

    Top 5 Original Screenplay:
    1.The Master (Lock)
    2. Django Unchained (Lock)
    3. Amour (Safe bet)
    4. Flight (I heard it’s good, could easily get in)
    5. Moonrise Kingdom (I love the movie but maybe a little too twee for the Academy?)

    Dark Horses: Promised Land (could be), The Sessions, Zero Dark Thirty, Frances Ha (if it gets release on time), and Arbitrage.

  • Les Grossman

    Quentin Tarantino's Django unchained

  • http://cinemaconfessions.blogspot.com Gautam

    If I have to draw parallels this year with last year's Oscars, Silver Linings is The Descendants of this year .. dramedy with strong lead & supporting performances. And the similarity doesn't end there. Both are adapted screenplays, with writer-director at the helm. I won't be surprised if Silver Linings ends up with a similar sort of show at the Oscars - getting nominated for 4-5 categories and ultimately winning Adapted Screenplay. [Lawrence might grab it too though]. So at this point of time Silver Linings is definite frontrunner.

    Original Screenplay this time around is a difficult category to predict. People are still not sure how will Academy react to The Master. Also surprisingly it's looking a weak field this year. But with amount of conversation that The Master has generated this year, it surely looks like to be the frontrunner.

  • tombeet

    You forgot to mention Inside Llewyn Davis, although I'm not so sure which category it's end up being...

  • Leonardo

    Shouldn't the promised land be at best adapted screenplay? and Lawless and killing Them Softly could appear in there too

  • Arturo

    Great predictions Mr. Brevett, though I'm still a bit confused where Sessions will end up.
    Best Original Screenplay

    1) The Master
    2) Moonrise Kingdom
    3) Django Unchained
    4) Amour
    5) Zero Dark Thirty

    Best adapted Screenplay

    1) Silver Linings Playbook
    2) Argo
    3) Beasts of the Southern Wild
    4) Le Miserables
    5) Lincoln

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Criterion10/ Criterion10

    Still think The Master may not side well with the Academy. Not so sure that PTA will be taking home an Oscar.

    Django is one we will have to wait for the word one. I'm leery that it may not live up to expectations, but if it does, QT will surely have another nomination on his hands, maybe even a win.

    All the other picks look pretty solid. But, I must ask, does Amour have an uphill climb ahead of it due to the fact that it's a foreign language film?

  • Wolfgang Hamilton

    Oh my God, people need to seriously stop talking about "Lincoln" as if it'll get anything besides Razzies and the award for Most Pretentious Oscar-Baiter.

    • wher

      you are cool?