Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Adapted / Original Screenplay
Kicking off our Oscars previews, we look at the best of the big screen's scribes
As we lead up to the 87th Academy Awards, our Film Reviews Editor Emma Simmonds makes her predictions on this year's likely Oscar winners. Here, we look at the contenders for Best Adapted Screenplay (last year's winner: 12 Years a Slave) and Best Original Screenplay (last year's winner: Her)
What we say: It's an unpredictable race this year and an underwhelming field, with sanitised takes on true-life tales dominating: The Theory of Everything is a pretty toothless adaptation of an, at points, ferociously honest memoir; the screenplay for The Imitation Game squeezes a remarkable story into a tired cinematic template and refuses to properly confront the gross injustice of Alan Turing's demise; American Sniper offers scant psychological illumination, glorifies war, and presents a dishonest picture of its protagonist. Yet, current favourite Whiplash (which originated as a short film) has a rhythm and snap to its writing which befits the subject matter. And Paul Thomas Anderson might admit that his adaptation of Inherent Vice is a bit of a cut-and-paste job, but he's preserved Thomas Pynchon's voice beautifully, and his modesty belies the difficulty of adapting such a maverick work.
Birdman – Alejandro G Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr and Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher – E Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, story by Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
What we say: This one's an embarrassment of riches. While the screenplays of several of those in its sister category drag their films down or pen them in, these help them soar – providing the funny, smart, scathing or humane foundation on which their movies are built. Boyhood is notable for its warm and credibly penned interactions. The Grand Budapest Hotel is hilarious and wonderfully particular, with Wes Anderson bringing the same precision to the screenplay that would eventually characterise the production. Foxcatcher's script subtly probes a heart of darkness and Birdman's is deliciously nasty. But Dan Gilroy might just edge it for us with his terrifically confident work on Nightcrawler, which gives TV news a thorough skewering.
See the full list of Oscar 2015 nominees.
Watch the 87th Academy Awards live on Sky Movies Oscars Sun 22 Feb from 11.30pm.