This is the real fight between Jojo Rabbit and Little Women and it looks like Hitler might win this time.
This category presents a bit of a conundrum for Academy voters. They clearly like Jojo Rabbit (even if critics are sharply divided) and it won the TIFF People’s Choice Award in September and that all but secures it a top 8 win somewhere. No one expect maybe Bong Joon Ho has charmed Hollywood in this season’s awards circuit than Taika Waititi, who is charming, funny, wacky and genuinely honored by the positive attention he and his film have gotten. He’s also been the directing force behind critically acclaimed television (What We Do In the Shadows, The Mandalorian) and Marvel blockbusters (Thor: Ragnarok). The town loves this guy. He’s got BAFTA and WGA in his pocket, both wins against Little Women and was a DGA nominee. He’d also be the first indigenous person to win this Oscar (as its first nominee ever) and in a year of very few non-white nominees it help put him in phenomenally good shape to win.
Greta Gerwig did what seemed almost unthinkable; make yet another version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel into something interesting and relevant. Gerwig took Alcott’s prose and post-publication intent to heart and crafted a version of Little Women we haven’t seen before and used non-linear storytelling in a thrilling way for a type of period piece that is used to a staid and stale presentation. It’s fiery and feisty and brims with energy, wit and compassion and now it’s a $100M-grossing blockbuster. The uproar over another year of all-male directing nominees could work in her favor with voters that want a place to reward her, the only place they can reward her. As one of the only five women ever nominated for Best Director in the Academy’s 92-year history (for 2017’s Lady Bird), Gerwig comes in with Critics Choice and the USC Scripter (winning both against Jojo Rabbit). Here’s a dreary stat for you: if Gerwig (or Krysty Wilson-Cairns in original screenplay for 1917) loses here it will be the first decades since the 1960s that see no female winner in either screenplay category. The last was Diablo Cody original screenplay for 2007’s Juno.
History-wise, the Golden Globes really cock up this category since they don’t separate Adapted and Original and give out a single Screenplay award. They lean heavy on original screenplays there, with 8/10 being non-adapted works. Oddly enough, the two times they have gone adapted gave us the only screenplay to run the entire season of every precursor (The Social Network) and one that won everything except for the Globe (when the non-Oscar nominated Steve Jobs beat eventual Oscar winner The Big Short).
The only precedent this decade for an Oscar win with only Critics Choice and the USC Scripter this decade is 12 Years a Slave and that was a PGA co-winner, DGA and Oscar directing nominee and the Best Picture winner. Last year, BlacKkKlansman came in with just BAFTA but it proved enough. It was also the best place the Academy had to honor Spike Lee with a competitive Oscar since he wasn’t winning Best Director over Alfonso Cuarón or Best Picture against Green Book.
If you go just a year before this decade, in 2009, when Up in the Air won absolutely everything – the Globe, Critics Choice, WGA, USC and BAFTA – and then lost the Oscar to Precious in one the most shocking surprises ever in this category, it shows there is room for an upset here. It’s a slim one, but it’s there.
Here are my ranked Final Oscar predictions for Adapted Screenplay with a chart of a decade of related precursors and history.
|1. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)||BAFTA, CCA, USC, WGA|
|2. Little Women (Sony/Columbia)||BAFTA, CCA, USC, WGA|
|3. The Irishman (Netflix)||BAFTA, CCA, GG, USC, WGA|
|4. The Two Popes (Netflix)||BAFTA, CCA, GG, USC|
|5. Joker (Warner Bros)||BAFTA, CCA, WGA|