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Early Best Adapted Screenplay Contenders Range from ‘Living’ to ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

Films of all kinds of scale are in the running for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar this year.

WHITE NOISE - (L-R) Don Cheadle (Murray) and Adam Driver (Jack). Cr: Wilson Webb/NETFLIX © 2022

“White Noise”


This article contains IndieWire’s preliminary 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.

Nominations voting is from January 12-17, 2023, with official Oscar nominations announced January 24, 2023. Final voting is March 2-7, 2023. And finally, 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. We update predictions through awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2023 Oscar picks.

The State of the Race

While the greatest Best Adapted Screenplay contenders are ahead of us, there have been films of all kinds of scale that have kicked off the conversation about what film will win. In January, Sundance premiered “Living,” the small but grand remake of “Ikiru” that stars Bill Nighy, and was written by accomplished novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. While that won’t be available to the public until November, “Top Gun: Maverick,” the summer’s biggest blockbuster, is also generating Oscar buzz for screenwriters Peter Craig, Ehren Kruger, Justin Marks, Christopher McQuarrie, and Eric Warren Singer.

Ultimately, the fall festivals are poised to have the biggest impact on this category. Two-time Best Original Screenplay nominee Noah Baumbach continues to edge closer to his first Oscar win by bringing Don DeLillo’s “White Noise” to the big screen, bringing his own take to a novel many considered to be unadaptable. That film opens both the Venice and New York Film Festivals, a first.

TIFF, meanwhile, will unleash several contenders. Celebrated Canadian director Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” adapts Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel about several Mennonite women who meet to discuss their experiences with sexual assault and rape in their community. Sebastián Lelio’s crisis-of-faith drama “The Wonder” stars Florence Pugh and adapts Emma Donoghue’s novel about an English nurse assigned to observe a fasting girl; Donoghue wrote the screenplay with Alice Birch and Lelio, who won the Best International Film Oscar for 2017’s “A Fantastic Woman.” TIFF will also premiere Rian Johnson’s sequel “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” a sequel to his 2019 nominee for Best Original Screenplay (sequels fall into the adapted category).

Venice will launch two play adaptations with awards potential, the first one being the Brendan Fraser-starring father-daughter drama “The Whale,” which Darren Aronofsky adapted from Samuel D. Hunter, who has sole writing credit on the feature. The other play adaptation taking flight on the Lido being “The Son,” director Florian Zeller’s follow-up to “The Father,” for which he won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. As with “The Father,” the new movie draws from Zeller’s stage work, with Christopher Hampton once again credited as co-writer. NYFF, meanwhile, has the premiere of “She Said,” which adapts the non-fiction tome by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey about their reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual assault.

Finally, there are some year-end blockbusters that could give “Top Gun: Maverick” some company. While their predecessors did not receive screenplay nominations, the sequels to two of the highest grossing films all time, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” could receive recognition in Adapted Screenplay depending on how they reignite passion for their respective franchises after obstacles like the tragic loss of one of the lead actors, or an over-a-decade-long gap between films.

Oscar contenders are listed in alphabetical order. Only films I have seen will be deemed frontrunners — so expect this frontrunners list to change very soon.

Peter Craig and Matt Reeves (“The Batman”)
Dean Fleischer-Camp, Elisabeth Holm, and Nick Paley (“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”)
August Gore and George Miller (“Three Thousand Years of Longing”)
Kogonada (“After Yang”)
Ehren Kruger, Christopher McQuarrie, and Eric Warren Singer (“Top Gun: Maverick”)

Noah Baumbach (“White Noise”)
Alice Birch and Sebastián Lelio (“The Wonder”)
Joe Robert Cole and Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
Guillermo del Toro, Gris Grimly, Patrick Hale, and Matthew Robbins (“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”)
Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller (“The Son”)
Samuel D. Hunter (“The Whale”)
Kazuo Ishiguro (“Living”)
Rian Johnson (“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”)
Rebecca Lenkiewicz (“She Said”)
Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”)

Christine Angot and Claire Denis (“Both Sides of the Blade”)
James Cameron and Josh Friedman (“Avatar: The Way of Water”)
Scott Cooper (“The Pale Blue Eye”)
Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly, and Pete Jones (“The Greatest Beer Run Ever”)
Andrew Dominik (“Blonde”)
Lena Dunham (“Catherine, Called Birdy”)
David Kajganich (“Bones & All”)
David Magee (“A Man Called Otto”)
David Magee (“Lady Chatterley’s Lover”)
Ron Nyswaner (“My Policeman”)

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