Oscars Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay – Can Oscar-Winner Christopher Hampton Bring ‘The Father’ To the Dolby?

Clayton Davis
·10-min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars from Film Awards Editor Clayton Davis. Following Academy Awards history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Oscar predictions are updated regularly with the current year's contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. Eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and will be displayed next to revision date.

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2021 OSCARS PREDICTIONS:
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

UPDATED: Feb. 11, 2021

AWARDS COMMENTARY:
Can 75-year-old Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton (1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons”) be more competitive than originally thought? Along with co-writer and director Florian Zeller, the Golden Globe nomination sure helps, but there’s hefty competition ahead, including the two frontrunners, “Nomadland” and “One Night in Miami.” Critics Choice gave a boost for “First Cow,” and it could find representation in this category, or cinematography even. Charlie Kaufman’s underrated “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” missed out on CCA and the USC Scripter nomination, which is a big dent to the campaign. The writers’ branch has always typically gone their own way.

PRECURSORS LEADER: “Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Chloé Zhao
Awards Circuit Winners Chart (2020-2021)

AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE:

  1. "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)
    Chloé Zhao (based on the book "Nomadland" by Jessica Bruder)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: After losing everything in the Great Recession, an old woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
    STARRING: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

  2. "One Night in Miami" (Amazon Studios)
    Kemp Powers (based on the play "One Night in Miami..." by Kemp Powers)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Regina King
    SYNOPSIS: A fictional account of one incredible night in 1964, where four icons of activism, sports and music – Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke – gathered, discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the ’60s.
    STARRING: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom, Jr., Joaquina Kalukango, Nicolette Robinson

  3. "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller (based on the play "Le Père" by Florian Zeller)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    (2007) - "Atonement" - best adapted screenplay
    (1988) - "Dangerous Liaisons" - best adapted screenplay - WINNER


    DIRECTOR: Florian Zeller
    SYNOPSIS: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams

  4. "News of the World" (Universal Pictures)
    Luke Davies, Paul Greengrass (based on the novel "News of the World" by Paulette Jiles)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    (2017) - "Lion" - adapted screenplay (Davies)
    (2006) - "United 93" - best director (Greengrass)


    DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
    SYNOPSIS: A Civil War veteran agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers as they search for a place that either can call home.
    STARRING: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, Michael Angelo Covino, Ray McKinnon

  5. "First Cow" (A24)
    Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond (based upon the novel "The Half-Life" by Jonathan Raymond)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Kelly Reichardt
    SYNOPSIS: A skilled cook has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune. Soon the two collaborate on a successful business.
    STARRING: John Magaro, Orion Lee

NEXT IN LINE CONTENDERS:

  1. "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" (Netflix)
    Ruben Santiago-Hudson (based on the play "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" by August Wilson)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated
    -
    DIRECTOR: George C. Wolfe
    SYNOPSIS: Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues". Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play.
    STARRING: Chadwick Boseman, Dusan Brown, Jonny Coyne, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige, Michael Potts, Jeremy Shamos, Glynn Turman

  2. "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" (Netflix)
    Charlie Kaufman (based on the novel "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" by Iain Reid)

    OSCAR HISTORY: 4 nominations, 1 win
    (2015) - "Anomalisa" - best animated feature
    (2004) - "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" - original screenplay - WINNER
    (2002) - "Adaptation." - adapted screenplay
    (1999) - "Being John Malkovich" - original screenplay


    DIRECTOR: Charlie Kaufman
    SYNOPSIS: Full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents' secluded farm. Upon arriving, she comes to question everything she thought she knew about him, and herself.
    STARRING: Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, David Thewlis, Toni Collette

  3. "The Mauritanian" (STXfilms)
    M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani (based on the novel "Guantanamo Diary" by Mohamedou Ould Salahi)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Kevin Macdonald
    SYNOPSIS: A detainee at the U.S military's Guantanamo Bay detention center is held without charges for over a decade and seeks help from a defense attorney for his release.
    STARRING: Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley

  4. "The White Tiger" (Netflix)
    Ramin Bahrani (based on the novel "The White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Ramin Bahrani
    SYNOPSIS: The epic journey of a poor Indian driver who must use his wit and cunning to break free from servitude to his rich masters and rise to the top of the heap.
    STARRING: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao, Mahesh Manjrekar

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

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    (2006) - "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" - best adapted screenplay (Baynam, Cohen, Hines, Mazer)
    -
    DIRECTOR: Jason Woliner
    SYNOPSIS: A satire on Trump’s America that follows a Kazakh journalist who’s sent to America to deliver a gift from his government to Vice President Mike Pence. Along the way, his worldview is turned upside down and steadfast beliefs are challenged by his teenage daughter.
    STARRING: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova

TOP-TIER AWARDS CONTENDERS:

  1. "The Invisible Man" (Universal Pictures)
    Leigh Whannell (based on characters and concepts created by H. G. Wells for "The Invisible Man")

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Leigh Whannell
    SYNOPSIS: When Cecilia's abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
    STARRING: Elisabeth Moss, Aldis Hodge, Harriet Dyer, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Michael Dorman, Storm Reid

  2. "Emma." (Focus Features)
    Eleanor Catton (based on the book "Emma" by Jane Austen)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominatedDIRECTOR: Autumn de Wilde
    SYNOPSIS: In 1800s England, a well meaning but selfish young woman meddles in the love lives of her friends.
    STARRING: Anya Taylor-Joy, Angus Imrie, Letty Thomas, Gemma Whelan, Bill Nighy

  3. "Pieces of a Woman" (Netflix)
    Kata Wéber (based on the play "Pieces of a Woman")

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Kornél Mundruczó
    SYNOPSIS: When a young mother's home birth ends in unfathomable tragedy, she begins a year-long odyssey of mourning that fractures relationships with loved ones in this deeply personal story of a woman learning to live alongside her loss.
    STARRING: Vanessa Kirby, Shia LaBeouf, Ellen Burstyn, Iliza Shlesinger, Benny Safdie, Sarah Snook, Molly Parker

  4. "The Midnight Sky" (Netflix)
    Mark L. Smith (based on the novel "Good Morning, Midnight" by Lily Brooks-Dalton)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: George Clooney
    SYNOPSIS: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.
    STARRING: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Tiffany Boone, Caoilinn Springall

  5. "Hillbilly Elegy" (Netflix)
    Vanessa Taylor (based on the novel "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    (2017) - "The Shape of Water" - best original screenplay


    DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
    SYNOPSIS: An urgent phone call pulls a Yale Law student back to his Ohio hometown, where he reflects on three generations of family history and his own future.
    STARRING: Amy Adams, Glenn Close, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins, Owen Asztalos

  6. "Shirley" (Neon)
    Sarah Gibbons (based on the novel "Shirley" by Susan Scarf Merrell)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominatedDIRECTOR: Josephine Decker
    SYNOPSIS: A famous horror writer finds inspiration for her next book after she and her husband take in a young couple.
    STARRING: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman, Victoria Pedretti

  7. "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" (Hulu)
    Suzan-Lori Parks (based on "Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs" by Johann Hari)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels
    SYNOPSIS: Follows Holiday during her career as she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover sting operation led by black Federal Agent Jimmy Fletcher, with whom she had a tumultuous affair.
    STARRING: Andra Day, Trevante Rhodes, Natasha Lyonne, Garrett Hedlund, Rob Morgan, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Tyler James Williams

  8. "Cherry" (Apple TV Plus)
    Angela Otstot, Jessica Goldberg (based on "Cherry" by Nico Walker)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominatedDIRECTOR: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
    SYNOPSIS: An Army medic suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder becomes a serial bank robber after an addiction to drugs puts him in debt.
    STARRING: Tom Holland, Ciara Bravo, Kelli Berglund, Thomas Lennon

  9. "The Personal History of David Copperfield" (Searchlight Pictures)
    Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci (based on "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens)

    OSCAR HISTORY:
    (2009) - "In the Loop" - best adapted screenplay (Blackwell, Iannucci)
    DIRECTOR: Autumn de Wilde
    SYNOPSIS: In 1800s England, a well meaning but selfish young woman meddles in the love lives of her friends.
    STARRING: Anya Taylor-Joy, Angus Imrie, Letty Thomas, Gemma Whelan, Bill Nighy

  10. "The Outpost" (Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment)
    Eric Johnson, Paul Tamasy (based on the book "The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor" by Jake Tapper)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominatedDIRECTOR: Rod Lurie
    SYNOPSIS: A small team of U.S. soldiers battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
    STARRING: Scott Eastwood, Orlando Bloom, Caleb Landry Jones

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in the lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards, are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each.

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)

2021 Golden Globes Predictions (Film)

2021 SAG Awards Predictions (Film)

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