Year in Review: Best Adapted Screenplays of 2012

6 Jan

Rant. Rave. Review. 2012Finally, we get into the more “legitimate” awards area with the best adapted screenplays. This category recognizes screenwriters who have crafted a script written exclusively for a film, but is based on a different source material, such as a novel, theatrical production or TV show. This is the hardest category for me to critique since I have no screenwriting experience and have not read the scripts for the films (which can usually be found online once a movie is out). However, I have seen each film and have kept in mind some of the basics of a strong screenplay when critically evaluating them. Contrary to common understanding, a screenplay is much more than dialogue.

In the case of the adapted screenplay category, a screenwriter has to take a work that is not his own and make it cinematic. This could entail making some pretty drastic changes or taking creative liberties with the source material, but the screenwriters must walk the fine line of not losing the greatness of the original work. It is less about creating a world for the audience to become immersed in, and more a task of building a bridge for them to cross into somebody else’s story. In some cases, that can be harder than making something completely on your own.

There are some great screenplays listed below, each with an interesting story behind them. For instance, a pair of novels many said to be un-adaptable due to their unique and complex narrative structures absolutely flourished and amazed many who saw Life of Pi and Cloud Atlas. David O. Russell, the writer and director of Silver Linings Playbook, managed to adapt a respectful and tasteful take on bipolar disorder, spurred by his own son’s personal battles with the same disorder. Tom Stoppard took the well-worn tale of Anna Karenina and re-imagined it in a more contemporary setting with an ambitious narrative presentation. Stephen Chbosky adapted and directed his own critically acclaimed novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, for our viewing pleasure. Finally, Tony Kushner and Chris Terrio took pieces of America’s past right out of our textbooks and entertained you for over two hours with a history lesson in both Lincoln and Argo.


5. Tony Kushner, Lincoln


4. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook


3. David Magee, Life of Pi


2. Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower


1. Chris Terrio, Argo


Honorable Mentions (alphabetized)

-Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas

-Ben Lewin, The Sessions

-John J. McLaughlin, Hitchcock

-Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

-Tom Stoppard, Anna Karenina


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