No black woman has ever won a writing award at the Oscars, but Dee Rees could change that if she claims Best Adapted Screenplay for “Mudbound,” which she co-wrote with Virgil Williams. As it stands, only one black woman has been nominated for writing — Suzanne de Passe for Best Original Screenplay for “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972) — and none have been nominated for an adapted script, so just a nomination would be historic for Rees. But as of this writing a few of the Expert film journalists we’ve polled are betting on her to upset.
Most of the top Oscar contenders for Best Picture this year happen to come from original scripts, which has made Best Adapted Screenplay a much more wide-open category. However, “Call Me by Your Name” has dominated our predictions with overwhelming support to win for its legendary screenwriter James Ivory, who previously earned Oscar bids for directing “A Room with a View” (1986), “Howards End” (1992), and “The Remains of the Day” (1993). But “Call Me” has shown some signs of vulnerability over the course of the season, missing out on a writing nomination from the Golden Globes and earning fewer bids than expected from the SAG Awards and BAFTA Awards.
So while the vast majority of Experts are betting on “Call Me by Your Name,” four are predicting an upset for “Mudbound”: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Grae Drake (Rotten Tomatoes), Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), and Kevin Polowy (Yahoo). Rees and Williams would be the fifth and sixth black writers of any gender to win a writing award. All of the previous winners happened to prevail for adapted scripts: Geoffrey Fletcher for “Precious” (2009), John Ridley for “12 Years a Slave” (2013), and Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for “Moonlight” (2016).
Thus far “Mudbound” has performed well in precursor writing races, earning nominations from the Critics’ Choice Awards and Writers Guild Awards, though the film was entirely snubbed at the BAFTAs and missed out on a writing nomination from the Golden Globes just like “Call Me by Your Name” did. There’s also the Netflix factor: the industry has been skittish about rewarding primarily streaming films, as we saw from the Oscar snub of “Beasts of No Nation” (2015) and the Cannes Film Festival backlash against “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” in 2017. Do you think “Mudbound” can overcome those factors to pull off an Oscar upset?
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.