2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay [UPDATED: November 9]

At the 2020 Academy Awards, “Jojo Rabbit” director Taika Waititi won Best Adapted Screenplay for bringing Christine Leunens novel “Caging Skies” to the big screen. This award, which dates back to the first Oscars in 1928, has gone to the adapters of 47 novels over the year.  The most recent of these prior to 2020 was in 2018 when James Ivory won his first Oscar for his adaptation of André Aciman‘s novel “Call Me by Your Name.” (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2021 Oscars predictions for Best Adapted Screenplay and be sure to check out our predictions for Best Original Screenplay.)

In between those two years, “BlacKkKlansman” director Spike Lee shared in the win for Best Adapted Screenplay for his written work on Ron Stallworth‘s memoir of the same name. In the 92-year history of this category, only a dozen adaptations of such books have prevailed. Five of those non-fiction books adaptations were winners in the last decade: “The Social Network” (2011), “Argo” (2012), “12 Years a Slave” (2013) and “The Imitation Game” (2014) and “The Big Short” (2015).

In 2017, “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney won this Oscar for adapting the latter’s un-produced play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.” While screen versions of stage works had won 14 times before, the last of those had been in 1989 (“Driving Miss Daisy”).

Short stories provided source material for seven winners, with “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005 being the most recent. And remakes of other films and teleplays account for four winners, the most recent of which was 2006’s “The Departed” (adapted from the film “Infernal Affairs”). One-off sources have included a newspaper column (“Mrs. Miniver”) and a short film (“Sling Blade”).

UPDATED: November 9, 2020

Please note: To read full descriptions of each film, check out our Best Picture predictions.

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

Leading Contenders

“The Father” (Sony Pictures Classics – December 18)
Writers: Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller, who adapted the latter’s play of the same name.

“News Of The World” (Universal – December 25)
Writers: Greengrass, Luke Davies, who adapted Paulette Jiles’ novel of the same name.

“Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures – December 4)
Writer: Chloé Zhao, who adapted Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book of the same name.

“One Night in Miami” (Amazon – December 25)
Writer: Kemp Powers, who adapted his play of the same name.

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix – December 18)
Writer: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who adapted the play of the same name by August Wilson)

“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” (Paramount – February 12, 2021)
Writer: Suzan-Lori Parks, who adapted Johann Hari’s non-fiction book “Chasing the Scream.”

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Strong Contenders

“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Studios)
Writers: Peter Baynham, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Swimer (based on Borat Sagdiyev by Cohen)

“Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” (20th Century – January 21, 2021)
Writers: Dan Gillespie Sells, Tom MacRae, who adapted their stage musical of the same name.

“First Cow” (A24)
Writers: Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, who adapted the latter’s novel “The Half Life.”

“French Exit” (Sony Pictures Classics – February 12, 2021)
Writer: Patrick deWitt, who adapted his novel of the same name.

“Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix – November 24)
Writer: Vanessa Taylor, who adapted J.D. Vance’s memoir of the same name.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (Netflix – September 4)
Writer: Charlie Kaufman, who adapted Iain Reid’s novel “I’m Thinking of Ending Things.”

“The Life Ahead” (Netflix – November 13)
Writers: Edoardo Ponti, Ugo Chiti, who adapted Romain Gary’s novel The Life Before Us.”

“The Midnight Sky” (Netflix – December 23)
Writer: Mark L Smith, who adapted Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel of the same name.

“The Personal History of David Copperfield” (Searchlight Pictures – August 28)
Writers: Simon Blackwell and Iannucci, who adapted Charles Dickens’s novel of the same name.

“The White Tiger” (Netflix- January 22, 2021)
Writer/Director: Ramin Bahrani, who adapted Aravind Adiga’s novel of the same name.

“Wild Mountain Thyme” (Bleecker Street – December 11)
Writer: John Shanley, who adapted his play “Outside Mullingar.”

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Possible Contenders

“The Boys In The Band” (Netflix – September 30)
Writer: Matt Crowley, who adapted his play of the same name.

“Cherry” (Apple+ – Winter)
Writers: Angela Russo-Otstot and Jessica Goldberg, who adapted Nico Walker’s novel of the same name.

“Emma” (Focus Features – February 21)
Writer: Eleanor Catton, who adapted Jane Austen’s novel of the same name.

“The Glorias” (Roadside Attractions – September 30)
Writer: Sarah Ruhl, who adapted Gloria Steinem’s memoir “My Life on the Road.”

“Greyhound” (Apple+ – July 20)
Writer: Tom Hanks, who adapted C. S. Forester’s novel “The Good Shepherd.”

“Mulan” (Disney – September 4)
Writers: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin, based on the animated film “Mulan” adapted by  Tony Bancroft from Barry Cook’s story “Ballad of Mulan.”

“The Prom” (Netflix – December 11)
Writers: Chad Beguelin, Bob Martin, who adapted their stage musical of the same name (co-written by Matthew Sklar).

“Shirley” (Neon – June 5)
Writer: Sarah Gubbins, who adapted Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel of the same name.

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