Best Adapted Screenplay

Back, baby. Back to not wanting to read all of these student stories and so blogging instead. I couldn’t help but feel a bruising of my ego when everyone’s comments on the last post amounted to, “you should see this film,” as though I were a cinematic idiot. There are 100 films on both of these lists. I’ve seen 79% of the best original screenplays from the last 20 years, and 72% of best adapted. Yeah. I guess that is only a C. But with grade inflation/a curve I give myself an A-. Anyway, feel free to comment and tell me which of the films in asterisks I must see.

One last thing. I’ve streamlined the listing process. I neglected to include author’s names this time, because this shit takes forever to type out. Forgive. Secondly, the winner is always listed first, my choices are in bold, and as before, films I have not seen are thus.*

1990
Dances with Wolves
Awakenings
Goodfellas
The Grifters*
Reversal of Fortune

1991
The Silence of the Lambs
Europa Europa*
Fried Green Tomatoes
JFK
The Prince of Tides*

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

Sorry, Montana! I thought A River Runs Through It was way boring.

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

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

See also the Murder by Death song, “Holy Lord, Shawshank Redemption is such a good movie!”

1995
Sense and Sensibility*
Apollo 13
Babe
Leaving Las Vegas
Il Postino*

RIP Nicholas Cage.

1996
Sling Blade
The Crucible
The English Patient
Hamlet
Trainspotting

Um… don’t get me wrong, I love this version of Hamlet, but you shouldn’t get a fucking Oscar nomination for adapting a Shakespeare play for the screen. “Look at all the artful cuts I made.” Wow. Not.

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

This was tough. All these movies were wonderful, except the one I haven’t seen, which I’m sure sucks.

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

Elmore Leonard = Detroit hero.

1999
The Cider House Rules*
Election
The Green Mile
The Insider
The Talented Mr. Ripley

2000
Traffic
Chocolat*
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Wonder Boys

There’s no such thing as a writing program student who doesn’t love the film Wonderboys. It would be like being an 80′s guy who doesn’t love Wall Street.

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

Enid in Ghost World is one of my favorite literary/film characters of all time. Although I will say that the book version of A Beautiful Mind is wonderful and graceful and nothing at all like the film. Nash is much more fascinating and complicated IRL. Also give me a break, schizophrenia doesn’t work that way.

2002
The Pianist*
About a Boy
Adaptation
Chicago
The Hours

I always go with Kaufman as a general policy.

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

2004
Sideways
Before Sunset
Finding Neverland*
Million Dollar Baby
The Motorcycle Diaries*

2005
Brokeback Mountain
Capote
The Constant Gardener*
A History of Violence
Munich*

I couldn’t choose just one; both these films are devastating. Capote is even better than you remember it being. Rent it today!

2006
The Departed
Borat
Children of Men
Little Children
Notes on a Scandal*

The first time I went off on a buddhist retreat, I had a two hour session where I watched the entirety of “The Departed” in my mind, with crystal focus, and it was surreal. Also it’s just a really good movie.

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

Again, I can’t choose. Both of these films are stuck in my brain. Atonement is so lame and shut up, I know the Divine Bell movie is supposed to be good but I’m afraid of it; it looks depressing.

2008
Slumdog Millionare
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Doubt
Frost/Nixon
The Reader

Most of these movies suck. 2008 was the worst year on record, both for the cinema and life. Seriously, check your records and think about it. The year of the mortgage crisis, the year the banks failed, the year GM went under, the year The Detroit Lions failed to win a single game, the year I graduated college, the year of personal domestic horrors I can’t go into right now, the year Benjamin Button was made…

2009
Precious
District 9
An Education*
In the Loop*
Up in the Air

2010
The Social Network
127 Hours*
Toy Story 3*
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Discuss.

3 thoughts on “Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Almost seems like it would be necessary to read the source material in order to choose a best adaptation. Of these, I’ve only read Hamlet, Trainspotting, Howard’s End, Awakenings, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Brokeback Mountain.

    PS Toy Story 3 was adapted? From what?

  2. PPS Missing comma in above post re: “Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Brokeback Mountain” suggests interesting mashup.

  3. In no particular order:

    1. A comma after the last item on the list is optional, I’m pretty sure. I go back and forth. This is wrong. One should probably be consistent.
    2. I say judge the film on its own merits, regardless of the adapted material.
    3. The academy considers sequels to be an adaptation of the original film.
    4. Jesus’ Son should have been nominated in 1999, but The Academy is filled with prudes and morons, as evidenced by me rarely agreeing on the winner.

    Aaron, I love your comments.

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