OSCARS 2018: Best Adapted Screenplay

Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, story by Hampton Fancher –
BLADE RUNNER 2049, based on characters from the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick

Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Greg Sestero, and Tom Bissell –
THE DISASTER ARTIST, based on the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made”

Virgil Williams and Dee Rees –
MUDBOUND, based on the novel by Hillary Jordan

Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder, Allan Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs –
WONDER WOMAN, based on the character created by William Moulton Marston

Stephen Chbosky, Steve Conrad, and Jack Thorne –
WONDER, based on the novel by R.J. Palacio

For this category, I decided to go back and consider films that held a decidedly populist appeal to me, and in the process I could remind myself why I enjoy sitting in a dark theatre to watch movies. Virgil Hill and Dee Rees’ MUDBOUND was a stone-cold lock for this category, so with four recommendations to make, what would they be? Hmmm…

After reviewing the movies I saw this past eligibility season, I went with works that correlated box office success and personal moxie (WONDER WOMAN, written by men enamoured by the lurid progeny of its source materials but directed by a woman); THE DISASTER ARTIST, whose BTS memoir screamed “train wreck” but that had the effect of a wistful trip down memory lane; BLADE RUNNER 2049, largely based on my continued wonderment at how deeply the filmmakers could run with characters so far removed from how they were imagined on the written page; and WONDER, a sentimental favorite but one in which the film’s storytelling structure enhances the narrative organization of the source material.

I have to admit, there were other works in this category that were deserving of a nod: FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL was witty and oh so very, very British; the cinematic demolition job executed on the Star Wars saga in THE LAST JEDI was bold and further signalled that it’s time to say “goodbye” to old, beloved characters and get acquainted with new ones; and the adapted screenplays for LOGAN and WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES proved to me that at its core, sci-fi and superhero blockbusters are at their core Westerns that trade far more on issues of morality and loyalty than on how loud things can get blown up. While I ultimately didn’t care enough for MOLLY’S GAME to recognize it here, the screenplay as adapted by Aaron Sorkin was witty and entertaining, if a tad expository. And I came THIS CLOSE to including James Ivory’s adaptation of André Aciman’s novel CALL ME BY YOUR NAME. But not close enough. I guess it was that kind of year for adapted screenplays. And we are all the richer for it.


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