Adaptations Sweep 2016 Oscar Nominations

by John Robert Marlow

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The long-trending dominance of adaptations is now complete. In a
near-total sweep of the top Academy Award nominations (39 of 43 noms), 7 of the 8 Best Picture noms are based on a book or true-life story (or both)—and number 8 is a reboot of an earlier movie (making it an adaptation as well).

The 5 nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay are (of course)
adaptations—but so are 3 of the 5 Best Original Screenplay
noms (which are based on true-life stories).

Likewise, 4 of 5 Best Actor nods go to performances in movies
based on books, reality, or both. Ditto for 5 of 5 Best Actress
noms (with one of those films based on a short story rather than
a full-length book).

Four of 5 Best Supporting Actor nods involve book / real-life
adaptations, as do 4 of 5 Best Supporting Actress noms. Stallone (Creed) and Leigh (The Hateful Eight) being the outliers.

Finally, 5 of 5 Best Director nominations go to directors of adaptations; 4 based on books or true-life stories, and 1 a reboot of an earlier film.

Given these numbers, adaptations cannot help but sweep the actual awards as well.

Details on specific adaptations below.

BEST PICTURE

The Big Short: based on the nonfiction book by Michael
Lewis. The Blind Side and Moneyball—also based on books by
Lewis—were Best Picture nominees in 2009 and 2011.

Bridge of Spies: based on the Cold War shootdown of an American
spy plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Brooklyn: based on the novel by Colm Toibin—whose earlier
novel The Blackwater Lightship and short story A Priest in the
Family
were also adapted (in 2004 and 2014).

Mad Max: Fury Road: clearly based on (and a retelling of) Mad Max,
though writer/director George Miller refuses to classify it as either sequel or reboot.

The Martian: based on Andy Weir’s self-epublished debut novel.

The Revenant: based on Michael Punke’s novel The Revenant: A Novel
of Revenge
, and the real-life experiences of American frontiersman Hugh Glass.

Room: based on Emma Donoghue’s novel.

Spotlight: based on the Boston Globe‘s investigation into child
molestation by Catholic priests, and the Church’s efforts to cover it up.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Big Short: based on the nonfiction book by Michael
Lewis. The Blind Side and Moneyball—also based on books by
Lewis—were Best Picture nominees in 2009 and 2011.

Brooklyn: based on the novel by Colm Toibin—whose earlier
novel The Blackwater Lightship and short story A Priest in the
Family
were also adapted (in 2004 and 2014).

Carol: based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt.
Highsmith’s works have been adapted over a dozen times, for film
and television series; the most familiar titles being Strangers
on a Train
(1951 and 1996), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1960 and 1999),
and The Two Faces of January (2014).

The Martian: based on Andy Weir’s self-epublished debut novel.

Room: based on Emma Donoghue’s novel.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bridge of Spies: based on the Cold War shootdown of an American
spy plane over the Soviet Union in 1960.

Ex Machina [not an adaptation]

Inside Out [not an adaptation]

Spotlight: based on the Boston Globe‘s investigation into child
molestation by Catholic priests, and the Church’s efforts to cover it up.

Straight Outta Compton: based on the rise and fall of hip hop group N.W.A., and named after their first album.

BEST ACTOR

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

BEST ACTRESS

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

DIRECTOR

Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Steve Jobs is based on the nonfiction book by Walter Isaacson, while Trumbo is based on Bruce Cook’s nonfiction book.

With 39 of 42 major Academy Award nominations going to adaptations (or performances in adaptations), and 16 of the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time being adaptations (see The 100 Highest-Grossing Adaptations of All Time—there has never been a better time for authors and other storytellers looking to make the jump to Hollywood.


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