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2017 Oscar Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay

The eclectic crop of Oscar contenders is led by frontrunners "Moonlight" and "Arrival." Updated 02/22/17.

Arrival Amy Adams




Hollywood is rarely in search of the new, so each year brings a longer list of adapted screenplays and a shorter list of originals.

Critics Choice nominees Luke Davies (“Lion”), Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi (“Hidden Figures”), August Wilson (“Fences”) and eventual winner Eric Heisserer (“Arrival”) all landed Oscar nominations for Adapted Screenplay.



The Academy moved two scripts, “Moonlight” and “Loving,” from Original to Adapted. Technically, the play Barry Jenkins adapted with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” was never produced. But the Academy, unlike the Writers Guild of America, decided that Jenkins did adapt the moving Miami-set coming-of-age triptych from another source. So that puts “Moonlight” at the top of the race for Adapted Screenplay.

“Moonlight” is competing against WGA nominee “Arrival,” Denis Villeneuve’s brainy sci-fi encounter between an empathetic linguist (Amy Adams) and alien visitors whose intentions are unclear. Adapted by Eric Heisserer (“The Thing”) from Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life,” the movie is accessible, smart, suspenseful and moving, that rare mix of brain-twister and intimate drama.

Also grabbing WGA nominations was playwright August Wilson’s Pittsburgh drama “Fences,” a holiday hit from Denzel Washington, and “Hidden Figures,” Ted Melfi and Allison Schroeder’s true story about African-American women mathematicians at NASA, which is also kicking it at the box office.

Also in the hunt is another heart-felt true story, Garth Davis’s WGA-ineligible “Lion,” adapted by Luke Davies from the book by Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel), who lost his family when he was five and found them 25 years later via Google Earth, which won the Adapted Screenplay BAFTA.

Contenders (in order of likelihood to win):

1. “Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney)
2. “Arrival” (Eric Heisserer)
3. “Fences” (August Wilson)
4. “Hidden Figures” (Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder)
5. “Lion” (Luke Davies)

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Hacksaw Ridge is not an adapted screenplay. While based on the life of Desmond Doss, it’s not linked to a pre-existing text, and is therefore an original screenplay (just like that of The King’s Speech, which was written under similar circumstances and won the Original Screenplay Oscar).


Truly laughable that Finding Dory’s incredible 1 billion dollar feat makes it a front runner… whereas Zootopia (98% Rotten Tomatoes Score) remains unmentioned here, but somehow racked in 1.024 billion USD (*note, this is more than Finding Dory), and is still the most relevant film of the year. If you thought people were upset when Lego Movie didn’t get nominated… just wait until Disney chooses to push for Andrew Stanton over the (still) best movie of the year to be released in theaters (would love to be proved wrong here).

Jon Bassinger-Flores

No “Moonlight” in your list? Wow.


    It’s an original screenplay


Where are the Best Original Screenplay predictions?

John Massengale

Why is Love & Friendship a long shot? I think it’s in the top three, and could win. It’s already won best screenplay adaptation from London film critics, St. Louis fun critics, and Florida film critics. What other movie has awards like that so far?

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