Oscar upheaval: ‘Moonlight,’ ‘Loving’ shifted to adapted screenplay

Our pal Pete Hammond (Deadline) reports that the writers branch of the academy has ruled that the screenplays for Barry Jenkins‘ “Moonlight” and Jeff Nichols‘ “Loving” are adaptations of previous works rather than original scripts. The directors had done double duty by also crafting these screenplays, which were deemed to be originals by the WGA. However, the academy deemed that each was working from source material and, therefore, they belonged in the adapted screenplay category.

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Jenkins substantially reworked Tarell Alvin McCraney‘s un-produced play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by splitting the narrative into three chapters; McCraney has a “Story By” credit on the film. Nichols dramatized the story told by Nancy Buirski in her 2011 documentary “The Loving Story”; she is a producer on the picture.

Both men had been strong contenders in the original screenplay race, which now looks to be a duel between two other writer/directors: Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”) and Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”). And with two slots now open, multi-hyhenates Mike Mills (“20th Century Women) and Matt Ross (“Captain Fantastic”) are likely to move into the top five.

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Likewise, with Jenkins and Nichols in contention in adapted, who may be denied a nomination now? Tom Ford reaped a Golden Globe bid for writing “Nocturnal Animals” but may get bumped out of the Oscar race for adapting Austin Wright‘s novel “Tony and Susan.” Same too for “Lion” director Garth Davis, who adapted Saroo Brierley‘s memoir “A Long Way Home.”

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