May 10, 2021

Oscars Best Adapted Screenplay: The Father or Nomadland?


The vast majority of Gold Derby’s users are predicting one of two scripts to win Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars: “Nomadland” (by Chloe Zhao) or “The Father” (by Florian Zeller and Christopher Hampton). Since “Nomadland” is the front-runner for Best Picture, you’d think it would be a pretty safe bet to prevail for its writing. But we’ve been getting mixed messages during the awards season that makes it look like a total toss-up.

“Nomadland” and “The Father” went head-to-head for Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes, but they both lost to “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which is an original script competing in a different Oscar category, so no help there. They battled again at the Critics Choice Awards, where “Nomadland” won, so that gave us an indication of its strength.

Normally we’d get some clarity from the Writers Guild Awards, which are presented by industry peers just like the Oscars are, but because the WGA has stricter awards rules than most other Hollywood unions, neither “Nomadland” nor “The Father” were even eligible to be nominated. “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” won Best Adapted Screenplay there instead.

Most recently we heard from the BAFTAs, who awarded “The Father.” Could that have just been the home-field advantage for esteemed British writer Hampton? Not necessarily. The British academy liked “Nomadland” enough to give it Best Picture, Best Director (Zhao), and Best Actress (Frances McDormand), so it’s not like it had any kind of disadvantage with UK voters. So maybe that’s the right guidepost for Oscar. Especially since this is the only category where the academy can recognize Zeller and Hampton’s achievement, while Zhao can still be honored as a director, producer, and editor of “Nomadland.”

As of this writing “Nomadland” still has the best odds overall, with the vast majority of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed picking it to win. However, more of Gold Derby’s Editors think “The Father” has the edge (including myself). Our Top 24 Users and All-Star Top 24, who have gotten the best prediction scores in recent years, both give “Nomadland” the edge, but by narrow margins.

So is it really just a two-way race between these films against “One Night in Miami,” “Borat” and “The White Tiger”? And if so, which way do you think it will go?

oscars best picture predictions widget

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