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2013 Oscar Nominees Profiled: Best Adapted Screenplay

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It’s that time of year again, as Hollywood’s finest find themselves, with alarming regularity, donning outfits that cost more than your house and jewellery worth more than you will earn in a lifetime. But awards season is all building to one supreme event, the Empire Awards Oscars on February 24. Ahead of that milestone, we assess the chances of each nominee in the major categories, and see who’s looking good ahead of the big night…

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Adapted by: Chris Terrio from the article about the "Canadian Caper" written by Jean Pelletier for the Canadian newspaper, La Presse.

Why It Will Win

1 Ben Affleck called this screenplay “masterful” during his BAFTA acceptance speech and it’s hard to argue, with Terrio creating tension even though the ending is a matter of historical record. 2 With Argo appearing to have huge momentum as a film, could Terrio be part of a sweep? He won the WGA in this category already, which is a good sign. 3 The line “Argo fuck yourself” deserves Academy recognition.

Why It Won't Win

1 Having such an astonishing true story to base his work on might work against Terrio, with voters underestimating how much he added. 2 He hasn’t won many of the pre-Oscar awards and faces really strong competition in this category. 3 The line “Argo fuck yourself” is a bit rude and may shock older voters.
Adapted by: Lucy Alibar And Benh Zeitlin from the play Juicy And Delicious by Lucy Alibar.

Why It Will Win

1 Adapted from Alibar’s own play, Beasts is a moving and powerful look at a timely issue; those environmental touches could help it. 2 Oscar often gives a Screenwriting prize for the plucky-indie-that-won’t-really-win-Best-Picture, in which case Beasts could benefit in this category. 3 The film landed a BAFTA nomination too, which is a classy accolade to have.

Why It Won't Win

1 It may be a little too indie for Hollywood tastes, without the big obvious emotional payoff that Hollywood likes – and it’s based on a play. Does Hollywood even know what those are? 2 The pair didn’t get a WGA nomination, missing out to The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, which doesn’t bode brilliantly. 3 Alibar and Zeitlin are disgustingly young to be so talented. That’s gotta cause jealousy.

Adapted by: David Magee from the novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Why It Will Win

1 Magee adapted a blatantly, clearly, obviously unfilmable book into a screenplay that powered a gorgeous and lyrical film. 2 He has previous Oscar form, landing a nomination for Finding Neverland. Second time lucky? 3 The film’s title might make the voters think of pie, resulting in a positive subliminal association that powers it to a win.

Why It Won't Win

1 How many Oscar voters will have read a whole book? They might be more likely to vote for Argo, based on a (shorter) magazine story. 2 The film deals with huge philosophical conundrums, and “huge philosophical conundrums” don’t appear anywhere on a list of Oscar’s Hundred Favourite Things. 3 The film’s title might make the voters think of maths classes, resulting in a negative subliminal association that loses it the prize.
Adapted by: Tony Kushner from part of Doris Kearns Goodwin's biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Why It Will Win

1 Kushner took an epic work of historical non-fiction and turned it into a gripping political procedural, peppering real history with plausibly created scenes. Surely he’s the one to beat. 2 His first draft was a whopping 500 pages. 500! He deserves the Oscar just for all that extra work. 3 He’s one of the most respected writers in America, with a previous nomination for Munich and huge kudos for Angels In America.

Why It Won't Win

1 Kushner’s chances may depend on enough voters having watched The West Wing (and Lincoln) and being aware that there’s such a thing as a “gripping political procedural”. 2 500 pages? Far too much reading! The Academy might plump for someone else just in case it encourages him. 3 Like Alibar, he works in theatre, which is a foreign and scary place for Tinseltown types.
Adapted by: David O. Russell, the film's director from the novel by Matthew Quick with the same name.

Why It Will Win

1 The film’s a quirky indie with great character parts – just the sort of film Oscar loves to give screenplay awards too. And as a bonus it tackles the serious subject of mental illness with even-handedness and without stigmatisation. 2 He won the National Board of Review and BAFTA awards for his screenplay, which has to give him confidence, and it’s a film full of roles-for-actors, which should win over those voters. 3 Sport, romance and mental illness? How can this lose?

Why It Won't Win

1 The voters might prefer the more political stories of Lincoln or Argo over the smaller scale of Silver Linings Playbook. 2 As a piece of adaptation, this doesn’t seem anywhere near as impressive as the feats performed by Kushner and Magee (not to mention the not-nominated trio of Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis for Cloud Atlas). 3 Will the voters forgive him for making last year’s Sexiest Man Alive wear a binbag?