The screenplay for “Moonlight” has contended at the precursor prizes as both an original and adapted work. “Moonlight” director Barry 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.
To recap, “Moonlight” won the Original Screenplay WGA, competed for and lost the Original Screenplay at BAFTA (bested by “Lion”) and was trumped by “La La Land” at the Globes, where there’s just one umbrella ‘Best Screenplay’ category.
Does this category confusion hurt its chances to prevail in Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars on Sunday? Lets’ review the five nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay to assess its chances.
“Fences” (Odds of winning: 50/1)
The late August Wilson will not win this Oscar for adapting his Pulitzer and Tony winning play. Viola Davis is sure to win Best Supporting Actress and director Denzel Washington may well win for his leading performance too.
“Lion” (Odds of winning: 50/1)
Luke Davies won the BAFTA for adapting Saroo Brierley‘s memoir “A Long Way Home.” While the BAFTA win by the film’s British star, Dev Patel, can be attributed to the fact that this group loves to reward one of its own, how did Davies prevail over? It helped that “Moonlight” contended over in original, where it lost to “Manchester by the Sea.” But this BAFTA cannot be ignored. There is ground swell for “Lion” and the academy may want to reward the film somewhere.
“” (Odds of winning: 33/1)
Allison Schroeder and director Theodore Melfi adapted the best-selling non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. “Hidden Figures” won the SAG Ensemble award, which may be for acting and not writing, but shows it’s a very well-liked film. And the academy may want to reward the biggest domestic hit among the nine Best Picture nominees by giving it a win somewhere.
“Arrival” (Odds of winning: 14/1)
Eric Heisserer won the WGA award in this category for his heartfelt adaptation of the Ted Chiang story “Story of Your Life.” He has been a consistent threat in all the screenplay categories along the awards road. However, he still got beaten at BAFTA by “Lion.” The last sci-fi or fantasy film to win a Screenplay Oscar was “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2003 as part of an unprecedented sweep, which saw that concluding chapter in the trilogy go 11 for 11.
“Moonlight” (Odds of winning: 1/10)
While “Moonlight” has lost when classified as an original, as it was at BAFTA, or in a catch-all category, as at the Golden Globes to “La La Land,” it always wins in adapted. Jenkins is the only writer/director nominated in this category and the academy loves those multi-hyphenates. Of the last 10 Screenplay winners (in both Adapted and Original), seven have been writer/directors.
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