Oscars 2023: Ranking All the Adapted Screenplay Nominations: The Oscars are coming, and so are all the joyous obsessions. Playing the jury ourselves is one of the highly anticipated activities of said obsession. Along with that, to maybe predict the winner. In this article, we are focusing on the “Best Adapted Screenplay” category. The five nominations feature a plethora of different stories. We have a beautiful adaptation of a classic anti-war story, an important and impassioned fable on womanhood, a daredevil return of an iconic hero, a classic whodunit, and a retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s classic. We probably could not have asked for more.

So, let us delve into each of those nominations with my ranking of them. I have also tried to predict which nomination will bag it. Spoiler alert: My personal number one is not the one I am going to predict as the eventual winner.

Obvious disclaimer: Bottom-ranked does not mean I found the film any less endearing.

The Sequel Controversy: Why are “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Glass Onion” screenplays considered adapted?

In case you are not aware of the Academy’s rules about franchise films, you might wonder why “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Glass Onion” are considered adapted screenplays. Now, both films’ stories are original. The screenplays are not adapted from original literary works. So why are they not part of the “Original Screenplay” category?

The answer is quite simple. The Academy considers most sequels adapted from the first film that introduces the recurring characters. So, although the stories are brand new, if you have one character that is written and established in a previous work, your work would be considered “adapted.” It does not sound exactly fair. Hence there are some calls to abolish this mere technicality. However, it is what it is. Since both “Glass Onion” and “Top Gun: Maverick” had characters (Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc and Tom Cruise’s Maverick) from their respective predecessors, they are considered in the “Adapted” category.

Now let us start with the ranking.

5: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)

Screenplay by: Rian Johnson
Based on: Characters from “Knives Out” written by Rian Johnson

Adapted Screenplay

Rian Johnson’s follow-up to the immensely entertaining homage to Golden Age detective stories, “Knives Out,” is eccentric, to say the least. Just like its enigmatic sleuth, Benoit Blanc. Like many classic Golden Age stories, “Glass Onion” had the detective ‘accidentally’ barge into a vacation of a group of people where everyone has the motive to bump the others off. Johnson’s story is zany and thoroughly entertaining. The twists and wits come hand in hand. Moreover, the trademark humor of “Knives Out” is prevalent throughout the film, satisfying the fans of the original. However, the underwhelming and overblown climax does put a dent in the end.

“Glass Onion” would be the least perfect among the five adapted screenplay nominees, and thus its fifth position. It still is an intriguing and entertaining work that should keep the “Benoit Blanc” franchise going.

4: Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

Screenplay by: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie
Based on: Characters from “Top Gun” written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.

Adapted Screenplay at Oscars 2023

Kudos to Kruger, Singer, and McQuarrie for coming up with the perfect story for the comeback of “Maverick.” Writing a follow-up story to a classic that came more than thirty years ago is not easy. It is not only the time that passed between the two stories that made the process challenging. It is also the significant decades’ worth of difference in style. “Top Gun: Maverick” navigates deftly through pitfalls, like its protagonist.

The screenplay is especially laudable for infusing eighties nostalgia with modern storytelling. The film never lets you forget the reasons that made you fall in love with the uber-stylish “Top Gun.” But, it reflects the novelty and is not limited to becoming just a tribute.

3: Living (Sony Pictures Classics)

Screenplay by: Kazuo Ishiguro
Based on: Original screenplay of “Ikiru” written by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni


The biggest challenge of “Living” was that it was a remake of a masterpiece by Akira Kurosawa. Of course, Comparisons are inevitable. And coming out looking good at that? Almost unattainable. But obviously, when Nobel winner Kazuo Ishiguro is at the helm, the unattainable tasks become attainable. Like in “Ikiru,” a terminally ill bureaucrat embarks on a journey to find meaning. In “Living.” Ishiguro’s adapted screenplay has the story set in 1950s Britain, and the changes work perfectly. The journey becomes beautiful and worthwhile even when you are sure of the destination. Just like life itself.

A superb Bill Nighy also helps the cause, if I might add.

2: Women Talking (MGM/ United Artists Releasing)

Screenplay by: Sarah Polley
Based on: Novel by the same name by Miriam Toews

Women Talking

Sarah Polley’s script, adapted from Miriam Toews’ novel, is pressing. As a result, it does not dilly-dally with implications; it is raw and impassioned. It is a story based on the true events of a number of women coming together to talk about their experiences; of being raped.

Like John Doe said in “Se7en”, sometimes you cannot tap on a shoulder to make people notice; sometimes you have to bring a sledgehammer to the point across. In the same vein, “Women Talking” is brutal and necessarily so. It would be needless to say to that, Sarah Polley would be a deserved winner in the adapted screenplay category.

1: All Quiet on the Western Front

Screenplay by: Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell
Based on: Novel by the same name by Erich Maria Remarque

Adapted Screenplay at Oscars 2023

The first spot in this list would go to the latest adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic anti-war tale, “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Edward Berger (also the director), Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell not only do justice to their harrowing source material but also elevate it. The tweaks incorporated, especially the parallel subplot of signing the peace treaty, add suspense. And it also vigorously underlines the essence of the story: the futility of war.

The adapted screenplay and its execution with Berger’s direction, James Friend’s cinematography, and Sven Budelmann’s editing make Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” a beautiful tragedy.

Prediction: Who will win Best Adapted Screenplay?

Certain patterns help us ascertain what might be the result on March 12th. For example, if the nominee has grabbed another nomination in the “Best Picture” category, it is a good indication of their favorite status. “Women Talking,” “All Quiet on the Western Front,” and “Top Gun: Maverick” have bagged “Best Picture” nominations as well.

Another point to note is other awards. “All Quiet…” has been quiet in the screenplay category in other awards. “Women Talking” won the “Adapted Screenplay” category at the Critics’ Choice Awards. “Women Talking” was also the only one from the “Adapted” category to get a nomination at the Golden Globes. So, it is fair to say that my prediction in the Best Adapted Screenplay category would be:

Winner: Sarah Polley for Women Talking.

The 95th Oscars will be televised and broadcast on March 12, 2023.

Also, Read: Here’s Where to Watch and Stream Daniel Craig’s ‘Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery’ Online

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