Aaron Sorkin brings winning Oscar ways to ‘Molly’s Game’

Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial debut this year with “Molly’s Game,” his well-received adaptation of the 2014 memoir by Molly Bloom, who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game and became an FBI target. Jessica Chastain, who lost her Oscar bids for “The Help” (2011) and “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), shines in the title role. Oscar winner Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves”) is Molly’s father, psychologist Larry Bloom, while SAG champ Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation,” “Luther”) is her lawyer, Charlie Jaffey. STX is positioning “Molly’s Game” as a key Oscar contender, with its release being rolled out nationwide beginning on Nov. 22.

Six of the seven films penned by Sorkin have amassed a total of 22 Oscar nominations, including three bids for Best Picture; the seventh was the 1993 psychological thriller “Malice.” He won his only Oscar to date for adapting Ben Mezrich‘s non-fiction bestseller “The Accidental Billionaires” into 2010 Best Picture contender “The Social Network.”

Sorkin’s first film was the 1992 adaptation of his 1989 hit Broadway play “A Fee Good Men.” Rob Reiner‘s screen version contended for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Film Editing (Robert Leighton) and Best Sound (Kevin O’Connell, Robert Eber and Rick Kline). It came up short to Clint Eastwood‘s “Unforgiven” in the first three categories, while “The Last of the Mohicans” prevailed in Sound.

Sorkin’s second collaboration with Reiner, the romantic comedy “The American President” (1995), landed a nomination for composer Marc Shaiman in Best Original Musical or Comedy Score. That prize went to Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz for “Pocahontas.”

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Busy with his TV work first on “Sports Night” and then “The West Wing,” Sorkin would not pen another feature film until “Charlie Wilson’s War” (2007), which was based on the book of the same name by George Crile that chronicled the efforts of a congressman to support the Afghan rebels in the early 1980s. This political comedy, which was the last film directed by Mike Nichols, earned Philip Seymour Hoffman a Best Supporting Actor nomination; he lost to Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”).

In 2010, David Fincher‘s “The Social Network,” which traced the rise of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), was a leading Oscar contender with eight bids. It vied for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Eisenberg), Best Adapted Screenplay (Sorkin), Best Film Editing (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall), Best Cinematography (Jeff Cronenweth), Best Original Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) and Best Sound Mixing (Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten). Besides that win for Sorkin, it also prevailed for film editing and score. It was topped by “The King’s Speech” in Picture, Director and Leading Actor and “Inception” in Cinematography and Sound Mixing.

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The following year, Sorkin was back in Oscar contention for his work on another non-fiction book, “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis which detailed the winning efforts of Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane. The film version, helmed by Bennett Miller, reaped six Academy Awards nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Brad Pitt), Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Best Adapted Screenplay (Sorkin, Steven Zaillian and Stan Chervin), Best Film Editing (Christopher Tellefsen) and Best Sound Mixing (Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick).

On Oscar night,”Moneyball” came up short all-around. “The Artist” took Picture and Actor (Jean Dujardin). Christopher Plummer (“Beginners) was the winner in Supporting Actor, while “The Descendents” earned Adapted Screenplay; “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” scored Film Editing; and “Hugo” prevailed in Sound Mixing.

Most recently, Sorkin adapted Walter Isaccson‘s bestselling biography “Steve Jobs” for a 2015 film that was directed by Danny Boyle. Michael Fassbender reaped a Best Actor bid for his portrayal of the the Apple co-founder while Kate Winslet vied in supporting for her role as marketing executive Joanna Hoffman. Neither star took home the Oscar, as Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) triumphed in lead and Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) scored the Supporting Actress prize.

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