Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2011: Best Adapted Screenplay

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. The Social Network

2. Toy Story 3

3. True Grit

4. Winter’s Bone

5. 127 Hours

It’s difficult to talk about the adapted screenplays when you’re not familiar with the original work.  But since that apparently doesn’t matter to the Academy — which sometimes places original sequels in the adapted category and vice versa (what?) — nor  to voters or viewers, for the most part, we shan’t take it — how innovative/interestingly/true-to-the-original-or-not the screenplays are — into account here.  Tra-la.

Not that it would matter anyway, because the Oscar has essentially already been handed over to Aaron Sorkin for his super-smart, rapid-fire-dialogue for The Social Network. In anyone else’s hands, this could easily have been a super-dud of a film: how do you make talking about computers and social media fascinating? You hire Aaron Sorkin, that’s how.  The always-engaging writer of A Few Good Men and The West Wing can make just about anything enthrall, and soon he’ll have his hand at a (sure to be nominated) musical film to boot  — Stephen Sondheim’s Follies (Who’s excited? This girl).

The only remote possibility for an upset would be if voters decided that the Coen Brothers need yet another Oscar, as True Grit is their fifth screenplay nomination in less than two decades. Enough folks have expressed unabashed adoration for the crankily comic Western, so the Bros. really could spoil Sorkin’s evening…but I sincerely doubt it.

Where the Academy truly baffles me is with Toy Story 3. I’m not surprised that it’s nominated (though I express my disappointment in the film here), but that it’s in the Adapted screenplay category. What exactly is it adapted from, I wonder? Are we meant to infer that because there is a 1 and a 2, that it is adapted from the characters and history of those previous films? How does that even make sense? As ACT pointed out to me, “TS3 is not based on anything. It has characters we recognize. So did fucking Nixon”  (which won Best Original Screenplay). True story, my friend. The Academy is so wishy-washy on its rules and regulations for each category (I lament Black Swan‘s exclusion from Best Original Score here), that it might as well give out Oscars willy-nilly — which some would say they actually does. I wouldn’t go that far, but TS3’s inclusion here is incomprehensible. What’s more, it has no chance of winning anyway — despite the Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine‘s Michael Arndt’s penning it — so why not stick it in the Original Screenplay category where it belongs?

As for the final two nominees: 127 Hours is a director’s film, not a writer’s, and unfortunately Danny Boyle won’t win for either of those efforts — the Academy appears to favor dialogue over form when considering screenplays, and Boyle and Simon Beaufoy’s film largely rests on the strength of the latter. The same holds true for the spare, quiet Winter’s Bone. An emotional stunner, yes. A flashy showcase for writing, not so much.

Sorkin’s got this one on lock.

 

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2011 by in Award Predictions, Oscar-Nominated.

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