Adapted Screenplay is a tricky thing because for some twenty years it was simply called Best Screenplay, and often films were nominated for this as some form of Original Screenplay (either Story or Story and Screenplay). It isn’t until 1956 when it finally settles down into its current form.

Every nominee from 1937 to 1942 was a Best Picture nominee. It’s interesting to note that three of the most successful films in Oscar history all lost their nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; it was the only loss for both Ben-Hur and West Side Story and one of only three for The English Patient.

The loss for The English Patient is especially odd as it lost to Sling Blade, one of only three films to win Best Adapted Screenplay without a Best Picture nomination (the other two are The Bad and the Beautiful and Gods and Monsters). On my points list, 26 of the top 30 were nominated for Adapted Screenplay (the only exceptions are On the Waterfront, Shakespeare in Love and Patton which all won Best Original Screenplay and Titanic, whose screenplay was not nominated).

The most successful person in this category would be John Huston, whose six nominations (and 1 Oscar) stand as the tallest achievement (plus the 2 nominations for Original Screenplay). No one dominates too much in this category because the great writer/directors often wrote Original Screenplays.

I was also surprised when Sling Blade won, because I thought at the time that even if they wouldn’t give English Patient another award, they would at least take the chance to give an Oscar to Arthur Miller. But instead he joined the list of great writers nominated in this category who nevertheless failed to win an Oscar: Dorothy Parker, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Graham Greene, Tennessee Williams (twice), Vladimir Nabokov and Harold Pinter (twice). Hell, despite writing two of the most quotable screenplays in film history (To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep), William Faulkner was never even nominated. It seems to be easier to win the Nobel Prize than the Oscar. George Bernard Shaw, John Irving and Larry McMurtry are the exceptions who won Oscars.

1996 was also an odd year because Kenneth Branagh was nominated for his screenplay of Hamlet when he simply did the entire text of the play. What people who argued about that nomination fail to realize is that the play is dialogue and exits and entrances. Shakespeare didn’t include many stage directions. That was what Branagh did so well: write the script for how things would be staged on screen. It’s astounding that it took so long for that to be appreciated.

For my nominees, I have checked all of the films to determine whether the screenplay was original or adapted from another source.

Grade: Winners: A- / Nominees: A- / Seen: 96.46% 98.50%

Honor Roll: Tunes of Glory / Breaker Morant / Betrayal / Stand by Me / Full Metal Jacket / Europa, Europa / Trainspotting / Ghost World / American Splendor

Shame Roll: none

(blue won Best Picture, red was nominated for Best Picture and purple only received the one nomination)

Best Writing Adaptation

1927-28 AA: Seventh Heaven / The Jazz Singer / Glorious Betsy

me: Sunrise / The Lodger / Sadie Thompson / The Cat and the Canary / Laugh Clown Laugh

Best Writing Achievement

1928-29 AA: The Patriot / In Old Arizona / The Leatherneck / Our Dancing Daughters / The Valiant / Wonder of Women

me: Nosferatu (only eligible film I deemed worthy)

1929-30 AA: The Big House / All Quiet on the Western Front / Disraeli / The Divorcee / Street of Chance

me: All Quiet on the Western Front / City Girl / Blackmail / The Cocoanuts / The Great Gabbo

note:  Street of Chance is the most recent nominee I haven’t seen.

Best Writing Adaptation

1930-31 AA: Cimarron / Skippy / The Criminal Code / Holiday / Little Caesar

me: Dracula / The Front Page / Le Million / Little Caesar / The Three Penny Opera

note:  Between Cimarron and Skippy, really a terrible year.  The best part about The Front Page was the script.  How was it they didn’t nominate it?

1931-32 AA: Bad Girl / Arrowsmith / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

me: Vampyr / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / Scarface / Frankenstein / Grand Hotel

1932-33 AA: Little Women / Lady for a Day / State Fair

me: The Invisible Man / I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang / Little Women / The Private Life of Henry VIII / Dinner at Eight

1934 AA: It Happened One Night / The Thin Man / Viva Villa

me: The Thin Man / It Happened One Night / The Gay Divorcee / Of Human Bondage / Death Take a Holiday

Best Screenplay

1935 AA: The Informer / Mutiny on the Bounty / Lives of a Bengal Lancer

me: The Informer / Les Miserables / Bride of Frankenstein / The 39 Steps / The Scarlet Pimpernel

1936 AA: The Story of Louis Pasteur / Dodsworth / Mr. Deeds Goes to Town / My Man Godfrey / After the Thin Man

me: The Petrified Forest / Mr. Deeds Goes to Town / A Tale of Two Cities / My Man Godfrey / Dodsworth

1937 AA: The Life of Emile Zola / The Awful Truth / Captains Courageous / Stage Door / A Star is Born

me: The Awful Truth / Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs / Stage Door / Lost Horizon / The Night Must Fall

1938 AA: Pygmalion / You Can’t Take It With You / Boys Town / The Citadel / Four Daughters

me: You Can’t Take It With You / Bringing Up Baby / Pygmalion / Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife / The Citadel

note:  With this win, George Bernard Shaw became the only Nobel Prize winner to ever win an Oscar.

1939 AA: Gone with the Wind / Goodbye, Mr. Chips / Mr. Smith Goes to Washington / Ninotchka / Wuthering Heights

me: The Wizard of Oz / Wuthering Heights / The Lady Vanishes / Of Mice and Men / Stagecoach

note:  Probably the most appalling of Gone with the Wind‘s Oscars.  It was badly written and never should have been nominated.

1940 AA: The Philadelphia Story / Rebecca / The Grapes of Wrath / Kitty Foyle / The Long Voyage Home

me: The Philadelphia Story / His Girl Friday / The Grapes of Wrath / Rebecca / Pinnochio

note:  Quite possibly the best year for adapted screenplays in film history.

1941 AA: Here Comes Mr. Jordan / How Green Was My Valley / Hold Back the Dawn / The Little Foxes / The Maltese Falcon

me: The Maltese Falcon / The Little Foxes / How Green Was My Valley / Suspicion / The Devil and Daniel Webster

1942 AA: Mrs. Miniver / The 49th Parallel / The Pride of the Yankees / Random Harvest / The Talk of the Town

me: The Magnificent Ambersons / Kings Row / Bambi / Now Voyager / Random Harvest

1943 AA: Casablanca / The More the Merrier / The Song of Bernadette / Watch on the Rhine / Holy Matrimony

me: Casablanca / For Whom the Bell Tolls / The Ox-Bow Incident / Watch on the Rhine / This Land is Mine

1944 AA: Going My Way / Double Indemnity / Gaslight / Laura / Meet Me in St. Louis

me: Double Indemnity / Arsenic and Old Lace / Gaslight / Laura / Ministry of Fear

1945 AA: The Lost Weekend / Mildred Pierce / Pride of the Marines / The Story of G.I. Joe / A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

me: The Lost Weekend / To Have and Have Not / Spellbound / A Tree Grows in Brooklyn / The Body Snatcher

1946 AA: The Best Years of Our Lives / Anna and the King of Siam / Brief Encounter / The Killers / Open City

me: Brief Encounter / The Big Sleep / The Best Years of Our Lives / It’s a Wonderful Life / The Spiral Staircase

1947 AA: Miracle on 34th Street / Gentleman’s Agreement / Crossfire / Great Expectations / Boomerang

me: La Belle et La Bette / Gentleman’s Agreement / Great Expectations / Crossfire / Out of the Past

1948 AA: Treasure of the Sierra Madre / Johnny Belinda / The Snake Pit / A Foreign Affair / The Search

me: Treasure of the Sierra Madre / Rope / State of the Union / Hamlet / Johnny Belinda

1949 AA: A Letter to Three Wives / All the King’s Men / The Bicycle Thief / Champion / The Fallen Idol

me: A Letter to Three Wives / All the King’s Men / The Heiress / Champion / The Fallen Idol

1950 AA: All About Eve / Born Yesterday / The Asphalt Jungle / Broken Arrow / Father of the Bride

me: The Third Man / All About Eve / Night and the City / The Asphalt Jungle / Kind Hearts and Coronets

1951 AA: A Place in the Sun / A Streetcar Named Desire / The African Queen / Detective Story / La Ronde

me: A Streetcar Named Desire / Detective Story / The African Queen / Strangers on a Train / Oliver Twist

1952 AA: The Bad and the Beautiful / High Noon / The Quiet Man / Five Fingers / The Man in the White Suit

me: Rashomon / High Noon / Miss Julie / The Quiet Man / A Christmas Carol

1953 AA: From Here to Eternity / Roman Holiday / Shane / The Cruel Sea / Lili

me: From Here to Eternity / Stalag 17 / The Big Heat / The Moon is Blue / Beat the Devil

1954 AA: The Country Girl / The Caine Mutiny / Seven Brides for Seven Brothers / Rear Window / Sabrina

me: Sabrina / The Caine Mutiny / Hobson’s Choice / The Country Girl / A Star is Born

1955 AA: Marty / Bad Day at Black Rock / Blackboard Jungle / East of Eden / Love Me or Leave Me

me: Mr. Roberts / The Trouble with Harry / Bad Day at Black Rock / The Man with the Golden Arm / To Catch a Thief

Best Screenplay – Adapted

1956 AA: Around the World in 80 Days / Giant / Friendly Persuasion / Baby Doll / Lust for Life

me: The Killing / Baby Doll / Diabolique / The Searchers / Richard III

Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium

1957 AA: The Bridge on the River Kwai / Peyton Place / Sayonara / 12 Angry Men / Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

me: The Bridge on the River Kwai / Paths of Glory / Sweet Smell of Success / 12 Angry Men / Witness for the Prosecution

1958 AA: Gigi / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof / Separate Tables / The Horse’s Mouth / I Want to Live!

me: Touch of Evil / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof / The Horse’s Mouth / Separate Tables / Death of a Cyclist / The Last Hurrah

note:  The script for The Horse’s Mouth was written by Alec Guinness.

1959 AA: Room at the Top / Ben-Hur / The Nun’s Story / Anatomy of a Murder / Some Like It Hot

me: Some Like It Hot / The Diary of Anne Frank / Compulsion / Anatomy of a Murder / Sleeping Beauty

1960 AA: Elmer Gantry / Sons and Lovers / The Sundowners / Inherit the Wind / Tunes of Glory

me: The Cranes are Flying / Tunes of Glory / Elmer Gantry / Shoot the Piano Player / Our Man in Havana

1961 AA: Judgment at Nuremberg / West Side Story / The Guns of Navarone / The Hustler / Breakfast at Tiffany’s

me: Throne of Blood / Breakfast at Tiffany’s / The Hustler / One, Two, Three / The Bridge

1962 AA: To Kill a Mockingbird / Lawrence of Arabia / David and Lisa / Lolita / The Miracle Worker

me: To Kill a Mockingbird / Lawrence of Arabia / Jules and Jim / The Manchurian Candidate / Lolita

1963 AA: Tom Jones / Lilies of the Field / Captain Newman, M.D. / Hud / Sundays and Cybele

me: Tom Jones / High and Low / Ivan’s Childhood / The Great Escape / Hud

1964 AA: Becket / My Fair Lady / Dr. Strangelove / Mary Poppins / Zorba the Greek

me: Dr. Strangelove / The Americanization of Emily / The Best Man / Mary Poppins / The Chalk Garden

note:  In retrospect, do you think anyone would vote for Becket over Dr. Strangelove?

1965 AA: Doctor Zhivago / Ship of Fools / A Thousand Clowns / Cat Ballou / The Collector

me: Doctor Zhivago / The Pawnbroker / A Thousand Clowns / The Collector / King Rat

1966 AA: A Man for All Seasons / Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? / Alfie / The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming / The Professionals

me: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? / A Man for All Seasons / The Professionals / The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming / Red Beard

1967 AA: In the Heat of the Night / The Graduate / Cool Hand Luke / In Cold Blood / Ulysses

me: Chimes at Midnight / The Graduate / In Cold Blood / In the Heat of the Night / Cool Hand Luke

1968 AA: The Lion in Winter / Oliver! / Rachel, Rachel / The Odd Couple / Rosemary’s Baby

me: The Lion in Winter / Rosemary’s Baby / Belle de Jour / Closely Watched Trains / The Odd Couple

note:  This is one of those, the writers are smarter than the rest of the Academy Oscars.

1969 AA: Midnight Cowboy / Anne of the Thousand Days / Z / Goodbye, Columbus / They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

me: Z / Midnight Cowboy / Oh, What a Lovely War / They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? / The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

1970 AA: M*A*S*H / Airport / I Never Sang for My Father / Lovers and Other Strangers / Women in Love

me: M*A*S*H / The Twelve Chairs / Lovers and Other Strangers / Women in Love / I Never Sang for My Father

note:  Four really good scripts and Airport.  One of these things is definitely not like the others.

1971 AA: The French Connection / A Clockwork Orange / The Last Picture Show / The Conformist / The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

me: A Clockwork Orange / The French Connection / The Last Picture Show / McCabe and Mrs. Miller / The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

1972 AA: The Godfather / Cabaret / The Emigrants / Sounder / Pete ‘N’ Tillie

me: The Godfather / Sleuth / Play It Again, Sam / Cabaret / The Heartbreak Kid

1973 AA: The Exorcist / The Last Detail / The Paper Chase / Paper Moon / Serpico

me: The Exorcist / Serpico / The Friends of Eddie Coyle / The Last Detail / Paper Moon / Day of the Jackal

1974 AA: The Godfather Part II / Lenny / The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz / Murder on the Orient Express / Young Frankenstein

me: The Godfather Part II / Young Frankenstein / Murder on the Orient Express / Lenny / The Parallax View

1975 AA: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest / Barry Lyndon / The Man Who Would Be King / Scent of a Woman / The Sunshine Boys

me: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest / The Man Who Would Be King / The Sunshine Boys / Three Days of the Condor / Kirol Lir

1976 AA: All the President’s Men / Bound for Glory / Fellini’s Casanova / The Seven Per-Cent Solution / Voyage of the Damned

me: All the President’s Men / Solyaris / Carrie / Voyage of the Damned / Marathon Man

1977 AA: Julia / Equus / I Never Promised You a Rose Garden / Oh, God! / That Obscure Object of Desire

me: That Obscure Object of Desire / Equus / Julia / Oh God! / Jacob the Liar

1978 AA: Midnight Express / Heaven Can Wait / Bloodbrothers / California Suite / Same Time, Next Year

me: Midnight Express / California Suite / Heaven Can Wait / Watership Down / Superman

1979 AA: Kramer vs. Kramer / Apocalypse Now / Norma Rae / La Cage Aux Folles / A Little Romance

me: Being There / Apocalypse Now / The Picnic at Hanging Rock / Kramer vs. Kramer / La Cage Aux Folles

1980 AA: Ordinary People / Coal Miner’s Daughter / The Elephant Man / Breaker Morant / The Stunt Man

me: Breaker Morant / The Elephant Man / Ordinary People / Raging Bull / The Shining

1981 AA: On Golden Pond / The French Lieutenant’s Woman / Pennies from Heaven / Prince of the City / Ragtime

me: The French Lieutenant’s Woman / Ragtime / Excalibur / On Golden Pond / Buddy, Buddy

1982 AA: Missing / The Verdict / Das Boot / Sophie’s Choice / Victor/Victoria

me: Sophie’s Choice / The Verdict / Fast Times at Ridgemont High / Missing / Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

1983 AA: Terms of Endearment / The Dresser / Betrayal / Educating Rita / Reuben, Reuben

me: Terms of Endearment / Betrayal / Educating Rita / The Return of Martin Guerre / The Right Stuff

1984 AA: Amadeus / The Killing Fields / A Passage to India / A Soldier’s Story / Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

me: Amadeus / A Passage to India / The Killing Fields / Under the Volcano / A Soldier’s Story

1985 AA: Out of Africa / The Color Purple / Kiss of the Spider Woman / Prizzi’s Honor / The Trip to Bountiful

me: Ran / Kiss of the Spider Woman / The Color Purple / Prizzi’s Honor / The Trip to Bountiful

note:  The Academy usually does well in this category.  This is the first time I don’t nominate their choice since Becket in 1964 and their first really bad choice since Gigi in 1958.

1986 AA: A Room with a View / Children of a Lesser God / The Color of Money / Crimes of the Heart / Stand By Me

me: Stand By Me / A Room with a View / The Color of Money / Children of a Lesser God / Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

1987 AA: The Last Emperor / Fatal Attraction / The Dead / Full Metal Jacket / My Life as a Dog

me: The Princess Bride / The Dead / Roxanne / Full Metal Jacket / Manon of the Spring

1988 AA: Dangerous Liaisons / The Accidental Tourist / Gorillas in the Mist / Little Dorrit / The Unbearable Lightness of Being

me: Dangerous Liaisons / Who Framed Roger Rabbit / The Unbearable Lightness of Being / The Accidental Tourist / Eight Men Out

1989 AA: Driving Miss Daisy / Born on the Fourth of July / Field of Dreams / My Left Foot / Enemies, A Love Story

me: Glory / Field of Dreams / Born on the Fourth of July / My Left Foot / Henry V

1990 AA: Dances with Wolves / Awakenings / GoodFellas / The Grifters / Reversal of Fortune

me: GoodFellas / The Grifters / Dances with Wolves / Presumed Innocent / White Hunter, Black Heart

1991 AA: Silence of the Lambs / JFK / The Prince of Tides / Europa, Europa / Fried Green Tomatoes

me: Silence of the Lambs / The Commitments / JFK / Europa, Europa / Beauty and the Beast

1992 AA: Howards End / Scent of a Woman / Enchanted April / The Player / A River Runs Through It

me: Howards End / The Player / The Last of the Mohicans / A Few Good Men / Glengarry Glenn Ross

1993 AA: Schindler’s List / In the Name of the Father / The Remains of the Day / The Age of Innocence / Shadowlands

me: the same – a truly, truly great year

1994 AA: Forrest Gump / Quiz Show / The Shawshank Redemption / The Madness of King George / Nobody’s Fool

me: Ed Wood / The Shawshank Redemption / Quiz Show / Little Women / Nobody’s Fool

1995 AA: Sense and Sensibility / Apollo 13 / Babe / Il Postino / Leaving Las Vegas

me: Sense and Sensibility / Leaving Las Vegas / Il Postino / To Die For / 12 Monkeys

1996 AA: Sling Blade / The English Patient / The Crucible / Hamlet / Trainspotting

me: Trainspotting / The English Patient / The Crucible / Emma / Hamlet

1997 AA: L.A. Confidential / Wag the Dog / The Wings of the Dove / The Sweet Hereafter / Donnie Brasco

me: L.A. Confidential / The Ice Storm / The Sweet Hereafter / Jackie Brown / Oscar and Lucinda

1998 AA: Gods and Monsters / The Thin Red Line / A Simple Plan / Primary Colors / Out of Sight

me: Out of Sight / Gods and Monsters / Primary Colors / The Butcher Boy / Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

1999 AA: The Cider House Rules / The Green Mile / The Insider / The Talented Mr. Ripley / Election

me: The End of the Affair / Eyes Wide Shut / The Talented Mr. Ripley / The Insider / The Cider House Rules

2000 AA: Traffic / Chocolat / Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon / O Brother, Where Art Thou / Wonder Boys

me: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon / Wonder Boys / High Fidelity / O Brother, Where Art Thou / Traffic

2001 AA: A Beautiful Mind / The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / In the Bedroom / Shrek / Ghost World

me: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / In the Bedroom / Ghost World / Vanilla Sky / Last Orders

2002 AA: The Pianist / Chicago / The Hours / Adaptation / About a Boy

me: Adaptation / The Hours / The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers / The Pianist / The Quiet American

2003 AA: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / Mystic River / Seabiscuit / City of God / American Splendor

me: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / Mystic River / American Splendor / City of God / Whale Rider

2004 AA: Sideways / Million Dollar Baby / Finding Neverland / Motorcycle Diaries / Before Sunset

me: A Very Long Engagement / Sideways / Closer / Million Dollar Baby / Finding Neverland

2005 AA: Brokeback Mountain / Capote / Munich / A History of Violence / The Constant Gardener

me: Brokeback Mountain / Pride and Prejudice / A History of Violence / Munich / King Kong

2006 AA: The Departed / Little Children / Notes on a Scandal / Children of Men / Borat

me: The Departed / Children of Men / The Prestige / Tristram Shandy / Thank You for Smoking

2007 AA: No Country for Old Men / There Will Be Blood / Atonement / Away from Her / The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

me: No Country for Old Men / Atonement / There Will Be Blood / Away from Her / Charlie Wilson’s War

2008 AA: Slumdog Millionaire / The Curious Case of Benjamin Button / Frost/Nixon / The Reader / Doubt

me: Slumdog Millionaire / The Dark Knight / Revolutionary Road / The Reader / Let the Right One In / Frost/Nixon

2009 AA: Up in the Air / Precious / District 9 / An Education / In the Loop

me:  An Education / Up in the Air / A Single Man / Precious / District 9

Honorary Mentions: La Ronde (1951) / White Nights (1961) / Thirteen Days (2000) / The Constant Gardener (2005)

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