Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions - Best Adapted Screenplay

Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"
Graham Moore "The Imitation Game"
Anthony McCarten "The Theory of Everything"
Joel and Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson "Unbroken"
Nick Hornby "Wild"

Other Contenders - Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice", Richard Curtis "Trash", Jason Dean Hall "American Sniper", James Lapine "Into the Woods", Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland "Still Alice", Jason Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson "Men, Women, & Children", Andrew Bovell "A Most Wanted Man", Jon Stewart "Rosewater", Steven Knight "The Hundred-Foot Journey", Kieran Fitzgerald, Tommy Lee Jones, and Wesley Oliver "The Homesman", Aline Brosh McKenna, Will Gluck, and Emma Thompson "Annie", William Monahan "The Gambler"

Commentary - For the second year in a row, the Adapted Screenplay category is not as deep or strong as its original counterpart, but that doesn't mean that it won't be an interesting race. First and foremost is Unbroken. When I heard that the Coen Bros had joined the process, my ears pricked up like a dog hearing a far away howl. They always bring a unique creative twist to everything they touch, and I am anxious to see how they tackle World War II. My assumption is that the results will be fantastic. We already know that two films will play well thanks to their rapturous praise out of Toronto. Both The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game have so many factors playing in their favor: great studios behind them, outstanding lead performances that carry the film (acting branch is the biggest), British vote, historical biopics. I expect them to play well across many categories, both should be locks here. Gone Girl is a big question mark, but with Gillian Flynn adapting her own script, you are guaranteed that you are getting the film that she envisioned, which is kind of neat. I think with Fincher behind the camera, this is going to be something special, and Flynn could easily be recognized for making her book as delightful to watch as it was to read. For the final slot, I think we area all underestimating a certain contender. Paul Thomas Anderson is an obvious pick, but he did miss for The Master, and word is that Inherent Vice might not appeal to Academy voters. Still Alice is getting good reviews out of Toronto, but right now the praise seems to be only about Julianne Moore. Even if Into the Woods and Annie are big hits, musicals rarely get screenplay nominations. Men, Women & Children is too controversial and has too many mixed reactions, Rosewater the same. The Hundred-Foot Journey or The Homesman could be seat fillers if some of the unseen contenders fall flat. And American Sniper is the silent contender that reminds me an awful lot of Eastwood's last Best Picture winner Million Dollar Baby, it should not be discounted. And finally, until I see some reviews, I am moving off of Stephen Daldry's Trash. I know I am breaking my own rule, but right now there are so many possibilities, and its buzz is dead. But I am not forgetting about it, and will move it right back up if I think it has a chance. But for now, I think the last slot is going to Nick Hornby's adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir Wild. The film got great reviews, but I will say right now the buzz is only about Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern. But then again, Jean-Marc Vallee's last film started in a same situation with Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto and ended up hitting most of the big categories. Like Dallas Buyers Club, Wild makes you feel, it is a struggle that is human, and I think it will continue to build support, and end up making it big across the board.

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