BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
- Adam McKay & Charles Randolph for THE BIG SHORT, based on the book by Michael Lewis
- Nick Hornby for BROOKLYN, based on the novel by Colm Toibin
- Phyllis Nagy for CAROL, Based on the novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
- Drew Goddard for THE MARTIAN, based on the novel by Andy Weir
- Emma Donoghue for ROOM, based on her novel
Who Will Win?
This is a tough category. This will be between The Big Short and Room.
Usually known for broad comedies like Anchorman, Step Brothers and pretty much any comedy starring Will Ferrell, Adam McKay took a giant leap out of his comfort zone to deal with the subject of the 2008 economy collapse. He tried to do it with The Other Guys, but the message got lost in the buddy cop tropes. So, he joins co-writer Charles Randolph to tell a true life tale of the few investors who predicted the housing bubble would burst and made financial investments against the US Economy.
He took an even greater risk by applying a Meta style to the film. Throughout the film, Ryan Gosling speaks directly to the audience to inform them of the story at hand. Not only that, but other characters will turn to the audience and correct anything said by the character. He even has actresses Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez and Chef Anthony Bourdain play themselves as they explain complicated investment terms.
As a plus, they will outright admit when a scene in the film is inaccurate to what really happened. Acknowledging the fact it’s a film might turn a few people off, but it’s nice for someone to take a gamble on this.
When it does tell a story, it still works. Even if you don’t understand the Housing market, the characters are still entertaining to watch. Each character’s given his own unique personality, from the khaki shorts wearing numbers genius Michael Burry to the loudmouth crusader Mark Baum.
In contrast, Room is a more personal film. Adapted from her own novel, Emma Donoghue tells a tale of Jack, a five year old boy who’s spend his whole life locked up in a shack along with his mother. This is a devastating subject to focus on, and yet Donoghue somehow creates a reassuring tale of perseverance against horrible odds.
The strength of the script is that it’s told mostly from the innocent perspective of Jack. Seeing the shack as his whole world, Jack wakes up every morning saying good morning to all inanimate objects. He regards this as normal life. When his mother finally reveals there’s a wider world, he refuses to believe it at first, but then accepts it.
When he and his mother finally escape, Jack finds the outside world full of wonders. But he’s also painfully shy about exploring it. At this half of the film, we see more of the mother’s perspective. Though no long physically imprisoned, she is now internally imprisoned by her trauma. It becomes her journey of recovery and Jacks’ journey of opening up. At the same time, the script also shows how this tragedy affects those close to her, especially the Grandmother.
It’s a battle between the experimental and the personal. I’m going to predict the academy will go for the experimental The Big Short due to its subject matter.