I have a lot of respect for the brave souls who attempt to strike crossover gold on the silver screen — and a little bit of envy for producers whose job it is to pore over novels, plays, and comic books and watch hours of television in search of that next box office hit. Although seemingly the best job ever, the producer’s job of determining material for film adaptations can’t be an easy one with so much material to turn to.
Once a project is established, though, the only person who might have it “worse,” is the screenwriter faced with a crisis of faith and translation: What aspects of the material should they stick to? Where might they take creative license? What translates well on the big screen? In other words, how do we make everyone happy?
Before this year’s Best Adapted Screenplay winner is announced, let’s give a shout out to the writers — of source material novels and their screenplays — who have tackled those tough questions and have been recognized by the Academy for successfully doing so. Check out a few of those winners below.
Top Five Adapted Screenplay Winners
Disclaimer: When I sifted through the archives (meaning, Wikipedia’s “archive” of Best Adapted Screenplay winners), there were so many awardees I wanted to list! For the sake of space, I narrowed it down to one per decade in the past 50 years. This is by no means a comprehensive list.
1960s – Tom Jones (1963), written by John Osborne. Based on Henry Fielding’s novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling.
1970s – Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), written by Robert Benton. Based Avery Corman’s novel of the same name.
1980s – Terms of Endearment (1983), written by James L. Brooks. Based on Larry McMurtry’s novel of the same name.
1990s – Sense and Sensibility (1995), written by Emma Thompson. Based on Jane Austen’s novel of the same name.
2000s – Sideways (2004), written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. Based on Rex Pickett’s novel of the same name.
Of course, there are also those worthy adaptations that never see an Oscar nod (Fight Club, anyone?). What adapted screenplay is your neglected fave? Tell us in the comments!
So, who will be added to the list this year? The Descendants? Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy? TiVo that part of the 84th Academy Awards this Sunday, February 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC.