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Oscars 2014 Cheat Sheet: Best Adapted Screenplay
We explain why they will win, and why they might not

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As is traditional now that the Academy Award nominations have been announced, we’re profiling the nominees in each of the main categories and assessing their strengths and weaknesses going into the competition. First up, Best Adapted Screenplay! Instead of the usual raft of novels-turned-films, this year sees four memoir-adaptations face off against an indie sequel. Who will emerge triumphant?

WORDS HELEN O'HARA
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JOHN RIDLEY - 12 YEARS A SLAVE

12 Years A Slave

WHY HE WILL WIN WHY HE WON'T WIN
1. The film is a frontrunner for Best Picture, which never hurt a body's chances, and might well be the frontrunner here. 1. A raft of nominations and a Best Picture favourite status does not necessarily translate into a Screenplay win, which is often the preserve of otherwise-overlooked films.
2. Ridley already had nominations for the BAFTA and the Golden Globe, which are both good signs of the high regard in which the script is held. 2. Ridley got no love from the Writer's Guild, which isn't a positive sign, and he didn't win that Globe (albeit it's a slightly different category, since there's no division between Adapted and Original screenplay there).
3. The film is intensely powerful, building on Ridley's strong script to deliver a story that needs only a few relatively brief moments of physical violence to convey the horror of the institution of slavery. 3. The film deals with a tough-to-watch subject, and the voters tend towards the squeamish. Will they go for a more cuddly story instead?

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