Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011

Best Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours, Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, from the book by Aron Ralston
The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin, from the book by Ben Mezrich (WINNER)
Toy Story 3, Michael Arndt, from the story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, from the novel by Charles Portis
Winter's Bone, Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, from the novel by Daniel Woodrell

Sorry that so many of these major categories seem uncompetitive — that the less predictable action is mostly in categories like Live-Action and Animated Shorts, involving films almost no one has seen. But some years the Oscar races are like that. (Or we may find out Sunday that all the smart money was on the wrong horse.) Read why the Oscar race is already over.

Few bets are surer than Sorkin's script for The Social Network. We now know that he wrote his Facebook screenplay without having read all of Mezrich's source book — so "adapted" is maybe a bit of a stretch. We've also learned that his Mark Zuckerberg differs in several important respects from the Mark Zuckerberg — which (a) doesn't matter, unless you're Mark Zuckerberg, because The Social Network is a movie, not a court deposition, and (b) proves that Sorkin has not only an organizing intelligence but a fertile and persuasive imagination.

What movie would poll second? We'd guess Toy Story 3. The script was almost universally admired for enriching an already teeming cartoon universe. Also, this is Arndt's second screenplay to be produced, and his first, Little Miss Sunshine, won him an Oscar. But such speculation is idle, since the Academy announces only the winner, not the order or the voting proximity of the runners-up. In the Oscar horse race, you never know how the field finished.