This year, nearly every single writer nominated in this category will be attending the Academy Awards for the very first time. In fact, the only writers in this year’s group that have ever been nominated before are Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke, collectively nominated this year for Before Midnight. Another noteworthy fact about this year’s group: four of the five scripts were adapted from real-life events. Even though this category is filled with mostly newcomers to the Oscars, each writer has experienced a distinguished career. The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Adapted Screenplay:
WINNER: Terence Winter (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Terence Winter adapted this screenplay from Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name. Even though this is only Winter’s third feature-film screenplay, he is a well-established name in the entertainment business—he was a writer and executive producer for HBO’s The Sopranos and is a writer, executive producer, and creator of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is similar to his very own Oscar-nominated film Goodfellas, and a lot of this has to do with Terence Winter’s mind-blowing script. In fact, Winter, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, admitted that his inspiration for this script was Goodfellas. Compared to Goodfellas, this script is filled with even more drugs, sex, crime, and F-bombs, and the film works so well because of Winter’s outrageous screenplay. Terence Winter has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.
2. John Ridley (12 Years A Slave)
John Ridley adapted this screenplay from Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir of the same name. 12 Years A Slave is clearly one of the most amazing films from 2013, and Ridley’s treatment of this classic story is truly inspiring. The story spans a twelve-year period, but Ridley makes sure to highlight some of the most striking events from this time, including a combination of heart-warming moments and moments that make your heart break for Solomon Northup. This script, coupled with some amazing acting, gives the story of Northup a deserved sense of justice. John Ridley has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.
3. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena)
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope adapted this screenplay from journalist Martin Sixsmith’s 2009 book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, telling the true story of a woman searching for fifty years to find her son. Jeff Pope, an award-winning writer and producer, and Steve Coogan, an award-winning writer, actor, impressionist, and producer, are both well known in their field in the United Kingdom, and it is refreshing to see their success receiving American praise, as well. The story is inspirational, and the script has already won the BAFTA for this very same category. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope have never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.
4. Billy Ray (Captain Phillips)
Billy Ray adapted this screenplay from the 2010 book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Captain Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty. The film tells the real-life story of the 2009 hijacking of Captain Phillips’s Maersk Alabama container ship by Somali pirates. The film is incredibly tense, and the screenplay makes the most of such a terrifying storyline. Some of the dialogue between Phillips (Tom Hanks) and the Somali actors is entrenched in my memory, and the film benefits significantly from Ray’s Oscar-nominated script. Billy Ray has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.
5. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight)
Before Midnight is the third film in a trilogy of films, beginning with Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), and Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke adapted it from the previous works in the trilogy. I have never seen either of the first two films, but the movie is set up in a way that you do not necessarily have to have any prior knowledge of the series; however, I do admit, I now want to see the other two to better understand the impact of the story. I found the film entertaining, and it is mostly due to the chemistry between Delpy and Hawke as actors and the chemistry between both of them and Linklater as collaborative writers. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke, were previously nominated for previously nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Before Sunset (2004).