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Best Adapted Screenplay Is One of the Only Oscar Races with a Consistent Frontrunner

"Women Talking" writer-director Sarah Polley continues to build momentum in the race for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

"Women Talking"

“Women Talking”

©Orion Pictures Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection

This article contains IndieWire’s past Best Adapted Screenplay predictions for the 2023 Oscars. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season, and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 95th Academy Awards, see our 2023 Oscars predictions hub.

We keep updating these predictions through the awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2023 Oscar picks. Final voting is March 2 through 7, 2023.  The 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See IndieWire’s previous Oscars Predictions for this category and more here.

The State of the Race

One Oscars category that has had a clear frontrunner throughout this awards season: Best Adapted Screenplay. Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking,” an adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel about a group of Mennonite women deciding whether to leave or stay and fight the male sexual predators within their colony, has consistently been breaking into the screenplay category for awards bodies that don’t even distinguish between original and adaptation — quite the feat in such a strong Best Original Screenplay year.

Though it’s tough to compete against some of the advantages the Canadian filmmaker has, like the Academy’s love of an auteur or that “Women Talking” is also nominated for Best Picture, Kazuo Ishiguro’s script for “Living” has also received much acclaim. While it is technically an adaptation of a Tolstoy novella, the Nobel Prize-winning author’s screenplay appeals to the many cinephiles that are Akira Kurosawa fans, as the Japanese icon adapted the same story for his 1952 film “Ikiru.” However, “Living” not receiving a Best Picture nomination again makes it an uphill battle for Ishiguro to win the Oscar.

Not facing that problem are the two screenwriting teams for films that did make it into the big category. “Top Gun: Maverick” writers Ehren Kruger, Christopher McQuarrie, and Eric Warren Singer face the Academy’s bias against sequels, but have a great story behind how they revived long-dormant IP, contributing it to arguably being the greatest box office success story of 2022. Plus, McQuarrie is already an Oscar winner for writing “The Usual Suspects.”

Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell wrote “All Quiet on the Western Front,” both a Best Picture and Best International Feature Film nominee, so many eyes will be on it, but straightforward war pictures have generally not won in the screenplay categories. The movie will likely get its wins elsewhere, as it’s up for nine Oscars total.

Meanwhile, fellow Netflix film “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” only has this one nomination — the second screenplay nod for the “Knives Out” franchise — but even when the Academy does award sequels, they usually wait for the final film to give out the Oscar (“Avatar” is another series that is likely in the same boat).

Nominees are listed below in order of likelihood they will win.

Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”)
Kazuo Ishiguro (“Living”)
Ehren Kruger, Christopher McQuarrie, and Eric Warren Singer (“Top Gun: Maverick”)
Rian Johnson (“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”)
Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell (“All Quiet on the Western Front”)

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