As we start approaching the end of the fall film festival season, we can finally see how some of the races at this year’s Academy Awards are beginning to play out. Undoubtedly, one of the most contentious races will be the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Unlike last year, this category is filled with heavy hitters from beloved talents such as Christopher Nolan, Sofia Coppola, and Tony McNamara. Now that “Killers of the Flower Moon” has officially been released worldwide, there’s a possibility that not only Martin Scorsese will be nominated in this category alongside his co-writer Eric Roth but possibly even win it. If that were to happen, it could lead to an outcome where “Killers of the Flower Moon” could win Best Picture at the 96th Academy Awards. Here’s who is competing for the win in this competitive category and why, ultimately, the Academy should acknowledge one of our greatest living artists once more, even if it’s not in the Best Director category.
Many consider “Oppenheimer” the current frontrunner for Best Picture, with Yorgos Lathimos’ “Poor Things” hot on its heels. “Poor Things” has only seen its momentum surge since playing at the Venice, Telluride, and New York Film Festivals. If it’s genuinely a contender for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay is certainly on the table for it to win as well. Tony McNamara’s adaptation of the Alasdair Gray novel has been praised as one of the year’s best. There is still plenty of goodwill for McNamara following his Oscar-nominated work on “The Favourite,” a film that many believed would win Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars in 2018. “Poor Things” sees McNamara and Lathimos reuniting with one another as, so far, they have been a terrific pairing, bringing out the best of each other’s sensibilities as artists. “Poor Things” winning Best Adapted Screenplay with possible craft and acting wins all add to a nice bundle that could take it over the finish line and win Best Picture as well.
There is always an assumption the Academy will spread the love across multiple films. For all we know, the Academy can be so enamored with “Oppenheimer” that they give Nolan the Best Adapted Screenplay win to go along with possible Best Director and Best Picture wins. Nolan’s screenplay for “Oppenheimer” is considered by many to be his best work since his Oscar-nominated work on “Memento.” His approach to writing the screenplay from the first-person perspective is unique and has been singled out by many. The overwhelming quality of the script also allows a murderer’s row of gifted actors to have plenty to work with. Every character introduction is perfect, and everyone is given a moment to shine throughout the three-hour runtime. It wouldn’t be surprising if Nolan were to win Best Adapted Screenplay, and it would very much be earned. Maybe there’s a chance voters think since Nolan is most likely winning Best Director, they’d want to put their vote toward someone else. Those votes may then go to the one and only Martin Scorsese, along with Eric Roth.
The adoration for Scorsese couldn’t be any higher than at this current moment in time. His newest film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” is one of the year’s best-reviewed films, adding another masterpiece to an already expansive filmography of one of the best to ever do it. If “Killers of the Flower Moon” earned a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, it would only make it the third time in Scorsese’s career that he has been nominated for a screenplay Oscar (“Goodfellas” and “The Age of Innocence” are the other two). There are a multitude of reasons why “Killers of the Flower Moon” can end up winning this category. The screenplay, co-written by Academy Award winner Eric Roth, has been one of the most highly focused aspects of the film. Scorsese initially was set to adapt the film more along the lines of how the David Grann novel of the same name was structured. It would have been an FBI procedural that, in theory, aligned with Scorsese’s traditional trademarks as a filmmaker. Eventually, the focus of “Killers of the Flower Moon” was shifted, as the film was rewritten to focus on the relationship between Earnest Burkhart (played by Leonardo Dicaprio) and Mollie Burkhart (played by Lily Gladstone). This allowed Scorsese to deliver a more personal and patient approach to the story, which gave more consideration to the subject matter and the Osage people.
Another significant aspect of this campaign is that since the premiere at Cannes, due to the strikes, the face of the film has only been Scorsese himself. Every piece he has done, whether it’s the GQ interview or his Time cover, has been illuminating. As much as we would not like to think about it, Scorsese has been clearly ruminating about the end of not only his career but his life in general. At 80 years old, he has openly acknowledged the phase in his life he is currently in, and many are taking notice by showering him with praise and adoration every chance they get. This meditative nature has echoed in his previous two films, “Silence” and “The Irishman,” and now in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Many voters will feel moved to want to reward Scorsese one more time. The film also has a strong narrative behind it, which has been prevalent in many of the recent Best Picture winners. If “Killers of the Flower Moon” wins Best Adapted Screenplay, a path will open up for it to possibly win Best Picture. The film could also win craft categories such as Best Cinematography and Best Production Design to help boost its chances. If there’s enough passion, despite the heavy competition in the category, Lily Gladstone could make history by becoming the first indigenous woman to win Best Actress. With all those awards, there’s no reason why “Killers of the Flower Moon” couldn’t give Scorsese his second Best Picture win following “The Departed” in 2006, for which his Best Director currently remains his only Oscar win to date.
Sure, Scorsese has stated that he will continue making films, and we couldn’t be happier to hear him admit as much. That being said, this news shouldn’t stop the Academy from awarding Best Adapted Screenplay to “Killers of the Flower Moon.” It’s an incredibly audacious picture made by a filmmaker who’s never been in more control of his craft. Scorsese has continued delivering films on a massive scale, considered a rarity today well into his twilight years, with a consistent degree of quality. Since Best Director is looking more and more likely to earn Nolan his first Oscar win, the Academy could split the difference and easily acknowledge Scorsese’s work for “Killers of the Flower Moon” elsewhere in Best Adapted Screenplay, acknowledging a master one final time near the end of what has been a mighty influential fifty-year career.
Who do you think is going to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay? Do you think Martin Scorsese will win his first writing Oscar? Please let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and check out our latest Oscar predictions here.