2019 Oscars: Adapted Screenplay

Previously, in Jack’s 2019 Oscar coverage…

January 28 – Best Picture
January 31 – Editing
February 4 – Supporting Actress
February 7 – Leading Actor
February 11 – Supporting Actor
February 14 – Leading Actress
February 18 – Director
February 19 – Original Screenplay


February 21 – Cinematography
February 24 – Final Predictions on Oscar Night

Today…Best Adapted Screenplay

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel and Ethan Coen
BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters and Eric Roth

Who will win: BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott
Who could win: If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
Who should win: If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins
Who should be here: 22 July, Paul Greengrass and Anne Seierstad

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll know by now that I consider If Beale Street Could Talk to be the most overlooked film of the year. That’s why I hope it can take home the Oscar gold here, and it’s got its best chance to do so. Beale Street did so much with subtext and multi-layered characters; it really was a wonderful piece of writing.

That said, if it was a fair world, I’d actually hand the Oscar to the Coen Brothers, for their magnificently eccentric, often funny, just as often weird ode to the old west The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The characters and stories those brothers come up with; with just a tenth of their talent, I could make a good living in this business myownself. A series of short, interconnected films, Buster Scruggs hits almost every emotion throughout, and each section is as compelling and fun as the one that came before it.

Beale Street’s biggest contender – and likely winner of this category at press time – is Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, which often felt a bit like a Coen Brothers film in and of itself. Surprisingly, Lee has never won an Oscar, and this is his best film in well over a decade, in my opinion since 2006’s criminally ignored Inside Man. Lee is also up in Directing and Best Picture, where he is likely to fall to Roma, but no Cuarón here to derail his hopes for Oscar Gold this time. Given that, and of course the amazing film which he put together, I think he gets his first Oscar right here.

Can You Ever Forgive Me, in a weaker year, could have had a big night. Melissa McCarthy’s Lee Israel, wonderfully written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, was the perfect anti-hero: someone you wouldn’t want to spend a second of time with because she was so unpleasant, but was compelling enough to want to watch her misadventures for a couple of hours, AND feel sorry for her. That’s really hard to pull off.

22 July, a terrific film about a horrific event in Norway, was completely overlooked and should have found a place here on this list. Seldom has a piece on terrorism been written that focuses on both the event and surviving the event, and what Greengrass and Seierstad pulled off was a fantastic piece of cinema. Well worth your two hours on Netflix, and deserved the larger forum that an Oscar nomination here would have provided it.