Oscar 2019: Best Adapted Screenplay–Spike Lee Vs. Barry Jenkins?

We often pay more attention to the film’s director and actors than to its literary source, be it original or adapted.

This year, of the five contenders for the Best Adapted Screenplay (see below), the toughest competition is between BlacKkKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk.

It’s probably a coincidence that both frontrunners are African American stories, helmed by black directors: Spike Lee (who has never been nominated for Best Director) and Barry Jenkins, who has been nominated, for Moonlight, which won the Best Picture.

Lee has skillfully directed BlacKkKlansman, but he co-wrote it with other collaborators, while Jenkins is the sole scripter of a fine adaptation of James Baldwin’s acclaimed novel.

Moreover, while BlacKkKlansman is a superb collaborative effort, If Beale Street feels more like a personal (auteurist) achievement.

Would these factors be in favor of If Beale Street? Hard to tell at this point.

Oscar voters are likely to choose Regina King as Best Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk. King has won critics awards as well as Golden Globe, but failed to be nominated by her peers for the SAG kudo.

Academy members may feel that BlacKkKlansman should get some recognition, and, realistically, this is the only category.

BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott)

As good a movie Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born is, there’s no denying that it’s the third remake of a tale first told in 1937, and then again in 1954, so its chances are iffy.

It’s worth noting that only one screenplay, Can You Ever Forgive Me? was co-written by a male and a female (Nicole Holofcener).

The safest prediction to make in this category is to say that it will NOT be the Coens’ scenario for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees: Rank Ordered in Chances to WinBlacKkKlansman,

1. If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins

2. Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel and Kevin Willmott

3. Can You Ever Forgive me, Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty

4. A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper, Will Fetters and Eric Roth

5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Stay tuned!

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