Oscars 2014: Predicting 10 Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees
10. Tracy Letts - August Osage County
There was a time in Hollywood when adapting stage productions into full-length motion pictures was cinéma a la mode. Playwrights adapting their own work for the silver screen, such as Lillian Hellman's work on The Little Foxes (1941) or Tennessee Williams' treatment of A Street Car Named Desire (1951), commonly received Oscar nominations. Even when they weren't adapting their own work, such as Horton Foote's famous adaptation of Harper Lee's seminal novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, they were often rewarded by the Academy. As the stage's influence over the general discourse on art has waned among pop culture enthusiasts, so too has its prolific appearances at the Oscars. This trend may have reached an inflection point though with actor/playwright Tracy Letts, who appears to be an increasingly hot commodity in both the film and stage industries. Most recently, Mr. Letts just won a Tony award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play for his role in the revival of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (a play whose film adaption landed very successfully with the Academy back in 1966), but cinephiles will probably be most familiar with Letts through William Freidkin's recent adaptation of Letts' dark (jet-black) comedy, Killer Joe, the screenplay of which Letts wrote himself. Mr. Letts has received the most critical acclaim thus far in his career from the theater community with his 2008 play, August: Osage County. The ensemble play, which went on to win numerous awards for its cast members, also personally gave Mr. Letts a Drama Desk Award, a Pulitzer Prize, and a Tony Award (not too shabby). All this symbolic kudos caught the attention of a trio of unassuming Hollywood producers by the names of George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Harvey Weinstein (you might have heard of them), which means this play will be coming to a theater near you and will undoubtedly be in the 2014 awards conversation. The play, and I assume the movie itself, tackles the rough relationships between an extended Oklahoman family who have all gathered at their old estate to help out their bitter dying matriarch. The film has an unbelievably star-packed cast, that includes Mrs. Academy Awards herself, Meryl Streep, in the lead, and features performances from the likes of Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, and Abigail Breslin. While it is unlikely a group of cynical writers (and we can assume they are cynical because they're writers) is going to go goo-goo over a glitzy marquee, they do usually appreciate films that reflect personally on the writer themselves, which will definitely be seen as the case for Oklahoman-born Letts adapting his own play into a feature film. Plus, I'm sure there are some writers in the Academy who still regard stage as a more "legitimate" art form than the movies, which can only help August: Osage County's chances at a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination.
A film fanatic at a very young age, starting with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies and gradually moving up to more sophisticated fare, at around the age of ten he became inexplicably obsessed with all things Oscar. With the incredibly trivial power of being able to chronologically name every Best Picture winner from memory, his lifelong goal is to see every Oscar nominated film, in every major category, in the history of the Academy Awards.