The Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar tends to be one of the more forgotten categories for the movie industry’s biggest night. Nevertheless, this year’s nominees combine clever ingenuity with quality writing to create a truly diverse field of nominees.
Written by Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, “Before Sunset” is the sequel to the 1995 hit “Before Sunrise.” Nine years after the time of the original, Jesse and Celine reunite when Jesse is on a book tour in Europe promoting his novel. Full of pleasant dialogue, Jesse and Celine stroll through Paris reminiscing and hypothesizing about what could have been. The quartet of writers make the sequel work by staying true to the original while expanding on the themes which made the first one so popular.
The only foreign language film nominated in the category, “Diarios de Motocicleta,” is adapted from the memoirs of Che Guevera and his cousin Alberto Grenado. The script was written by Jose Rivera and it recounts the journey of Che and Alberto through South America and how it ultimately shaped their destinies. While touching, the movie still finds time for humor, creating a package that is certainly worthy for Oscar contention. Guevera’s character in particular keeps the film moving smoothly, which is an accomplishment for a foreign film.
Adapted from a play by Allan Knee, the script for “Finding Neverland,” written by David Magee, enchantingly tells the story of Scottish author J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and how he came to write the children’s classic Peter Pan. Brilliantly shot and enchantingly told, “Finding Neverland” is the most intimate and tender movie of the year. The fairytale theme is a fine line for scripts to walk, but Magee pulls it off beautifully.
Directed by Clint Eastwood and with a screenplay by Paul Haggis, “Million Dollar Baby” is the story of a female boxer looking to beat the odds. The accolades for the movie are well-deserved, as Haggis, while sometimes too heavy-handed, still packs a punch when it comes to creating strong characters. There’s a reason why Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman all earned nominations for this movie.
Lastly, adapted from the novel by Rex Pickett, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor created the script for “Sideways.” Delightfully quirky and simultaneously emotionally gripping, “Sideways” is the story of college pals Miles (Paul Giamatti) and Jack (Thomas Haden Church) as they take a trip through the wine country of California before Jack heads to the altar. The characters in “Sideways” are beautifully defined, and the writing is at once heart breaking but uplifting, which is what the Academy tends to like in this category.
When the envelope is opened on Oscar night, the subtle brilliance of “Finding Neverland” is likely to be overlooked in favor of “Sideways,” a movie about two thirty-something men who are washed up and burned out — something many film critics doubtlessly relate to.
And the nominees are…
“Before Sunset” – Richard Linklater, Kim Krizan, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
“Diarios de Motocicleta” – Jose Rivera
“Finding Neverland” – David Magee
“Million Dollar Baby” – Paul Haggis
“Sideways” – Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
“Finding Neverland” should win
“Sideways” will win