If We Picked the Oscars for Adapted Screenplay 1960-Present

Good afternoon. My name is Karen, and I am a novelist owned by a parti poodle named Gigi. This week Gigi and I have decided to do something a little different. Being as the Oscars are this Sunday, we thought it might be fun to take a break from Gigi’s story Power Grid Failure as well as my usual Stream of the Week and focus on the Academy Awards instead. Gigi will be back next week to continue with the last chapters of her story Power Grid Failure. She will be starting a new story sometime in April. This week, she and I went back over the winners of our favorite two Oscar categories: Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Writing (Original Screenplay).

We thought it might be interesting to decide which films starting with the year 1960 until this year’s nominations we would have chosen to take home the award regardless of if they won or not. We are going to focus exclusively on Writing (Adapted Screenplay) today and this Saturday, March 11th we will do an extra post of what we thought should have won for Original Screenplay. Gigi, take it away.

Good afternoon. As a poodle, you may think I merely lie on my novelist’s chair or couch and snooze while she watches films. This simply is not so. I am most engaged in the film viewing experience. I consider myself a cinephile just as much as the next cultured creature and often find myself getting caught up in the adventures of those who strut and fret their way across the screen. Movies, in fact, play a crucial role in inspiring me to pen stories. Therefore, without further ado, here is my novelist and my list of our picks for what we would have chosen for Writing (Adapted Screenplay) from 1960 to present including some commentary here and there. We have marked the films that won the Oscar with the word Winner. Here is our list:

1960: Elmer Gantry (Winner)

1961: The Hustler

1962: To Kill a Mockingbird (Winner)

1963: Hud

Gigi and I would like to amend our pick here. Although our original pick Hud is an excellent script the Adapted Screenplay that should have taken home the Oscar was The Manchurian Candidate. To our shock, it wasn’t even nominated in this category.

1964: Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Seriously, how did this not win? Was the academy high on LSD?

1965: Doctor Zhivago (Winner)

1966: A Man for All Seasons (Winner)

1967: The Graduate

1968: Rosemary’s Baby

1969: Midnight Cowboy (Winner)

We would like to point out there is another nominee here from 1969 most folks probably haven’t seen but we urge you to do so. The film is called They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? It is directed by the great Sydney Pollack starring Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, and Susan York. Gig Young co-stars as the villainous Rocky and rightly won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. We do warn you this film is not an easy watch, but it is a must see just the same.

1970: M*A*S*H* (Winner)

1971: A Clockwork Orange

This was a fantastic year for adapted screenplays, and we would like to point out another Oscar worthy nominated film. It was co-written by Peter Bogdanovich and Larry McMurtry based on McMurtry’s novel of the same name called The Last Picture Show. Honestly, we are befuddled as to why neither our pick nor this film took home the trophy. They are clearly two of the best films ever made. The winner is a fine film too, but we think these two scripts better represent the writing category.

1972: The Godfather (Winner)

1973: Paper Moon

1974: The Godfather II (Winner)

1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Winner)

1976: All the President’s Men (Winner)

1977: Equus

Another film nominated this year was a smart little comedy called Oh, God! based on the novel by Avery Corman. The movie starred John Denver and George Burns and it’s a lot of fun to watch. We urge you to check it out.

1978: Midnight Express (Winner)

If you’ve never seen this movie, you really should. It’s based on the true-life story of Billy Hayes who was caught carrying four pounds of hashish at the airport in Turkey and the terrifying ordeal he went through locked up in a Turkish prison. You can stream it on Crackle.  

1979: Apocalypse Now

1980: Ordinary People (Winner)

The other magnificent film in this category is David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and it was a tough decision. Both are Oscar worthy scripts.

1981: On Golden Pond (Winner)

1982: The Verdict

1983: Terms of Endearment (Winner)

1984: The Killing Fields

1985: Kiss of the Spiderwoman

1986: Stand by Me

1987: Full Metal Jacket

1988: The Accused *

*We’re not picking any of the nominated films this year. We weren’t impressed with any of them, and we think The Accused got cheated out of a writing nomination. Thankfully, Jodi Foster went on to win Best Actress for her phenomenal performance.

1989: Field of Dreams

1990: Dances with Wolves (Winner)

1991: The Silence of the Lambs (Winner)

1992: Scent of a Woman

1993: Schindler’s List (Winner)

1994: The Shawshank Redemption

Honestly, we like the actual winner Forest Gump too. In fact, let’s consider this a tie. 1994 was one of the best years in film history without question. Wait till you see the Original Screenplay list. Some years like 1988 are terrible and others like this one are amazing. It’s too bad they can’t spread out the release of these masterpieces sometimes.

1995: Leaving Las Vegas

This year really ticked us off. And I mean ticked us off. The films nominated for Best Picture were straight out bizarre…except for the pig. We have a soft spot in our hearts for the pig. But really, this should have been one of the greatest years for the Oscars and it was a complete train wreck nomination-wise. Neither of the two best films Leaving Las Vegas nor Dead Man Walking were nominated for best picture. Nicholas Cage did win Best Actor for playing Ben which he more than deserved. And Elizabeth Shue should have won Best Actress for her incredible performance as Sera. Leaving Las Vegas was clearly the best adapted script as well as the best film of the year. And the book by the late John O’Brian is amazing. Watch the film and read the book. Just do it.

1996: Sling Blade (Winner)

One of the best screenwriting wins of all time. The audience at the Oscar ceremony stood up and gave Billy Bob Thorton a standing ovation. They almost never do that for writers. I literally cried. I fell on the floor and cried. After the complete embarrassment of the Oscars year before, they shocked me entirely by awarding the absolute winner a most deserved trophy.

1997: The Sweet Hereafter

This is an amazing film and an amazing novel by Russell Banks. Atom Egoyan is one of the best writer/directors around.

1998: A Simple Plan

1999: The Cider House Rules (Winner)

Another great script nominated this year that deserves mention is Election. I was lucky to be able to see the original ending of the film which is fantastic and superior to the ending they chose. That said, it is still an excellent film, most deserving of its nomination and well worth the watch. The novel by Tom Perrotta is also a good read.  

2000: Traffic (Winner)

2001: A Beautiful Mind (Winner)

2002: The Pianist (Winner)

2003: City of God

Another great nomination in this category was American Splendor with Paul Giamatti turning in yet another one of his fantastic performances. You can stream it on HBO Max.

2004: Sideways (Winner)

2005: Brokeback Mountain (Winner)

We are going to consider this year a tie with History of Violence which was our favorite film of 2005. A stellar and riveting script without a doubt. It’s one of the best if not the best movie based on a graphic novel thus far. The graphic novel of the same name is written by John Wagner and illustrated by Vince Locke.

2006: Children of Men

Although we think Children of Men is clearly the best script in this category another worthy film to check out is Little Children which was cowritten by the book’s author Tom Perrotta and Todd Field. Field is up for Original Screenplay this year for Tar.  

2007: No Country for Old Men (Winner)

2008: Slumdog Millionaire (Winner)

2009: Precious (Winner)

2010: The Social Network (Winner)

There are flaws with this winner, especially with the girlfriend character. That said it’s probably the best film of 2010 year although Winter’s Bone is a solid contender.   

2011: Hugo

2012: Argo (Winner)

The other outstanding adapted screenplay nominated this year is Silver Lining’s Playbook.

2013: Before Midnight

2014: The Imitation Game (Winner)

2015: Room

2016: Lion

2017: Molly’s Game

2018: BlacKkKlansman (Winner)

A couple of other terrific scripts were in the running this year that deserve mention. One is Can You Ever Forgive Me? The other is the newest incantation of A Star is Born.

2019: Jojo Rabbit (Winner)

2020: Nomadland

This was tough because the winner this year The Father was also worthy of an Oscar for the incredible way it allowed the audience to traverse through the mind of someone with dementia.

2021: The Power of the Dog

We would have also been happy with the beautiful languid winner of International Feature Film Drive My Car receiving the award here.

This year: 2022: Women Talking

Women Talking won the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay this year making it a strong contender for the Oscar. It was written by Sarah Polley adapted from the book of the same name by Miriam Toews. This is Sarah Polley’s second nomination. She was also nominated for writing the 2006 adapted script Away from Her based-on Alice Monroe’s short story The Bear Came Over the Mountain. You may also remember her fantastic performance as Nicol in The Sweet Hereafter. You can watch Women Talking on Prime Video with Amazon Prime; however, it appears it may only be playing there for a few days.

Look for our picks from 1960-2022 (present) for Writing (Original Screenplay) this Saturday, 3/11/2023.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s