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Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions Adapted Screenplay

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Oscar 2009 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay

Are screenplays of acclaimed stage plays adapted by the authors of the original works cursed when it comes to Oscars? Ernest “The Loons” Thompson can poop on that theory, but Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Neil Simon, and Harold Pinter can all say, “Yes, unquestionably.” So will Peter Morgan and John Patrick Shanley soon enough, so let’s move on to the three-way battle of the flashbacks. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button uses the flashback structure in ways both elegant (gently suggesting Benjamin’s chronological affliction) and stilted (the late-inning revelation of Julia Ormand’s character’s true identity, long-since presaged by most viewers), but the most damning flashback in terms of Oscar viability is the nagging dj vu that we’ve seen an extraordinary American life detailed like this somewhere before, and from the pen of Eric Roth at that. The literacy I referenced in the nominations prediction blog indeed helped secure The Reader a nomination in this category, but its surprise nominations in a number of other categories suggest it wasn’t much of an uphill battle for David Hare. And even we have to admit that his ability to weave back and forth between multiple time periods demonstrates something resembling narrative momentum (as opposed to the maladroit gynecological synchronicity he and Daldry attempted with The Hours), but it also hinges on a mid-film revelation that, if you don’t accept it, turns the entire movie into an endless, pompous slog toward bitter denouement. Of course, the movie’s Best Picture nomination means just as many bought it as a tragic romance, which also means Slumdog Millionaire isn’t quite the invincible (sorry, “underdog”) favorite here as it is in a bunch of other categories despite its recent WGA win. That said, Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay is playful with its flashbacks, and cannily allows the movie to climax in the here and now. It seems like a close one, but as Slumdog’s final title card says: “It is written.”

Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire

Should Win: Slumdog Millionaire