Saturday, March 15, 2008

One Category at a Time - Part 12 - Adapted Screenplay

Let's see what's on tap for best adapted screenplay this year. There are quite a few works to consider. My initial five has a couple of plays, a couple of novels and a short story:

Body of Lies (Williams Monahan)
Fresh off his Academy triumph for The Departed, Williams Monohan adapts this David Ignatius novel about a used-to-be journalist who the CIA commissions to help them hunt down an Al Qaeda leader. Going against Monohan; he recently won an Oscar, and if the public construes this to be another “Iraq” film, it may be hurt at the box office. Going for Monohan; as was the case with The Departed, the film is being headed by a long overdue director (in Ridley Scott), and this movie seems to fit in with the Academy's new “darker look”.

Doubt (John Patrick Shanley)
Oscar winning scribe John Patrick Shanley (Moonstruck) has adapted his own play to the screen this year, and will direct as well (his only other directing credit comes from the 1990 comedy Joe Versus the Volcano). He already has accolades blowing out the whazoo for Doubt, including a Pulitzer, a Drama Desk, and a Tony. Clearly, it's made an impression on a lot of people. Will it have the same effect as a film? If the cast delivers the goods (good chance of that happening), expect Shanley to go along for the ride.

Frost/Nixon (Peter Morgan)
Keeping on the subject of writers adapting their own plays, Peter Morgan will rework his celebrated script about the series of televised conversations between Richard Nixon and David Frost following the Watergate scandal. Morgan would likely have won for The Queen last year if it weren't for Little Miss Sunshine, but that was in original screenplay. Quirky independent comedies aren't much a threat in adapted screenplay (except Sideways), and Morgan's script will have a lot of talking in it. I think he's on his way to nomination #2.

Revolutionary Road (Justin Haythe)
Based on the acclaimed book by American novelist Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road centres about a married couple living in suburban Connecticut in 1955. Sounds fascinating, doesn't it? I kid! I kid! Apparantly it's a terrific novel (which I'm sheepish to say I have not read), and with such big names attached to the film as Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, and director Sam Mendes, it'll likely be the first screener Academy members pop in the DVD player come awards season. That being said, I do have a slightly uneasy feeling about this one.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Eric Roth)
This one really has my curiosity piqued. Three-time nominee Eric Roth (winner for Forrest Gump) will stretch out this short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald about a man who physically ages backwards, his body getting younger, as he gets older. Curious indeed. Could this be too unusual for the Academy? Many would say that No Country for old Men, There Will be Blood, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly were somewhat unusual, so I'm not buying that hypothesis. I think that given the inventiveness of the original work by Fitzgerald, this script has a shot even if the movie tanks.

Which scripts make your early list?

Next category, makeup.


bryan said...

Your list looks good to me. I'd just make one little change: I'd substitute BODY OF LIES for THE READER.

If you haven't read REVOLUTIONARY ROAD yet, maybe you'd be interested in reading the screenplay. I happen to have the first draft version of it.

N8 said...

I agree with bryan. No way "Body of Lies" gets in.

As for "Revolutionary Road", I'd love to look at the early draft! If you could email it to that would be wonderful.