Guessing the WGA: the adaptations

Posted by · 8:07 pm · January 6th, 2009

Writers Guild of America Awards(Original screenplay predictions here.)

The adapted field is a little easier to manage.  But I wouldn’t look to USC’s typically road-less-traveled nominees for much of a barometer for the adapted screenplay race, however.  That’s folly of a different sort.  So we’re left to our own devices.

Once again, foreign and animated films are not eligible here.  This probably affects “The Class” and “Gomorrah” more than anything else.  I doubt “The Tale of Despereaux” has much in the way of screenplay hopes this season.  Ditto “Let the Right One In,” however vile the idea.

As mentioned in the originals discussion, the WGA likes its comedies.  “Mean Girls,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and “High Fidelity” are a few examples of adaptations to make the cut here while missing with the Academy.  The only problem is…there isn’t really an applicable comedy adaptation in the mix.  Had, say, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” or “Yes Man” been somewhat more memorable, then maybe.  But that’s about all we have to pull from.  So maybe it isn’t a bad thing.  Anything that makes the guessing game a little easier is fine by me.

I’d say the safest bets here are the two Best Picture frontrunners: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (written by Eric Roth) and “Slumdog Millionaire” (Simon Beaufoy).  And even though I just finished telling you the Scripter nominees shouldn’t matter, I nonetheless think David Hare’s adaptation of “The Reader” might have a strong foothold here, even if it misses with Oscar (which it might not).  Ditto Justin Haythe’s “Revolutionary Road.”

That leaves a battle of the plays: “Doubt” versus “Frost/Nixon.”  As I said earlier, there is always at least one eventual Best Picture nominee left off the guild’s slate, even if it manages a nomination with AMPAS writers.  My bet is that’s going to be “Frost/Nixon” this year, so chalk one up for “Doubt.”  But I’m not solid on that either, because…

…the big question mark is “The Dark Knight.”  I think the PGA nomination was a given and I don’t think a SAG ensemble nod should have really been expected.  The Scripter snub was odd, but meaningless in the face of the awards landscape, because it isn’t an industry organization.  So the first real, true, honest-to-God test for this film and its Oscar hopes comes with tomorrow’s announcement.  I’m strangely expecting a snub, one that might carry over to Oscar even if a Best Picture nomination stays in the cards.  But even so, that’s shaky ground to be on.  Only a DGA nomiantion Thursday could right the ship if WGA takes a pass.

My predictions:

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Eric Roth; based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
“Doubt” (John Patrick Shanley; based on his play)
“The Reader” (David Hare; based on the nivel by Bernhard Schlink)
“Revolutionary Road” (Justin Haythe; based on the novel by Richard Yates)
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Simon Beaufoy; based on the novel “Q&A” by Vikas Swarup)

Other possibilities:
“The Dark Knight” (Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan; based on characters appearing in DC Comics)
“Defiance” (Clay Frohman, Edward Zwick; based on the book by Nechama Tec)
“Frost/Nixon” (Peter Morgan; based on his play)

What about you?

→ 12 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

12 responses so far

  • 1 1-06-2009 at 8:20 pm

    Lane said...

    The Dark Knight’s script is based on the story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer… based on the characters appearing in Bob Kane’s Batman series.

  • 2 1-06-2009 at 8:50 pm

    Mike said...

    Lane- I’m pretty sure they don’t give story credit for adapted screenplays, just original. At least in terms of awards

  • 3 1-06-2009 at 8:55 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’m quoting the production notes.

  • 4 1-06-2009 at 10:04 pm

    Lane said...

    I was looking at the Dark Knight’s FYC page.

  • 5 1-06-2009 at 11:28 pm

    Kevin said...

    Methinks it’ll be:

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    Slumdog Millionaire
    The Reader
    The Dark Knight

    Revolutionary Road and Doubt snubbed (just to make things interesting). Elegy could be a surprise nominee (or is that just a very, very long shot?)

  • 6 1-07-2009 at 2:14 am

    Leone said...

    definitely revolutionary road will be nominated, there wasn’t a better adaptation of a book this year. i rarely love books as wholly as I did revolutionary road and then have the movie live up to my expectations – this movie did and a good portion of that was the skilled adaption by justin haythe of the novel which is so beloved. and then leonardo dicaprio and the rest of the cast brought those roles to life and it was pretty much perfect. so my predix for adapted screenplay are:

    revolutionary road
    the curious case of benjamin button
    the reader
    slumdog millionaire

  • 7 1-07-2009 at 6:24 am

    D. said...

    There are two great adapted novels, two Tony-winning plays, two big Oscar contenders, and then a Dark Knight.

    Revolutionary Road and The Reader might both be in, with a bigger chance of the latter (this I base solely on previous awards traction, not the strengths of the respective screenplays).

    Doubt and Frost/Nixon are apparently both quite literal adaptations of their source material, relying heavily on casts of amazing character actors. Neither would surprise in the line-up, but then again, both missing wouldn’t either.

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and especially Slumdog Millionaire seem to be locks almost everywhere this awards season, and same they are here. Benjamin, though, seems to be heading down the road of Atonement, slowly losing the great buzz it had a month or two ago. Still, it’s to be expected on this shortlist.

    Now, the Batman. I believe this to be the true test for The Dark Knight: while the producers’ nomination was a certainty and a directors’ won’t come as any surprise, if it succeeds in snatching a writers’ nomination in a year such as this, I believe nothing will be able to stop it from sweeping double-digit nominations come Oscar night. It’s uncertain if it will, but it could come through as the (as odd as it may sound) lightweight nominee in a year with no ‘quirkier’ choices to include. Lightweight not by its own merit, but by the tendency of the WGA to try to appear cool, and what’s cooler than nominating a mainstream graphic novel adaptation?

    My predictions: Slumdog Millionaire; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Frost/Nixon; The Reader; Revolutionary Road OR Doubt; with a chance of The Dark Knight replacing any of the latter three.

  • 8 1-07-2009 at 8:07 am

    Anuj Shelat said...

    Leone really? I thought the script was the weakest thing about Revolutionary Road?

    …hi Kris <3

  • 9 1-07-2009 at 10:15 am

    B King said...

    I read the “Reader” screenplay and I thought it was terrible. The actual film is much better, so I hope the WGA is basing their nominations on the WRITING and not the direction.

    I also read both the “…Benjamin Button” story by Fitzgerald, and the screenplay by Roth and I think the screenplay is very good. It’s my vote for WGA and OSCAR.

  • 10 1-07-2009 at 10:22 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Welcome back Anuj.

  • 11 1-07-2009 at 10:32 am

    Dean Treadway said...

    I see your picks as right on the money, Kris, though I’d be on the lookout for a surprise nom for LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.