2024 Oscars: Best Adapted Screenplay Predictions

With the final voting complete, the 96th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 10 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT. We update predictions through awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2024 Oscar picks.

The State of the Race

Summer blockbusters “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” are back to vying against each other in this category (along with many others, including Best Picture) now that the Academy has switched two-time screenwriter Oscar nominees Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s outrageous based-on-an-unwritten-character scenario from Original back to Adapted.

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Also nominated twice for screenwriting, Christopher Nolan (“Memento,” “Inception”) painstakingly created a twisty ticking-bomb timeline for “Oppenheimer,” which is adapted from Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s lauded tome “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.” Every word counts as a gamut of real-life characters move in and out of the frame, always centered on the point-of-view of scientist Oppenheimer and his moral quandaries about creating the atom bomb that eventually fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Winning the coveted — and often predictive of a Best Picture nomination — People’s Choice Award at Toronto was “American Fiction” (MGM/Orion), television-writer-turned-director Cord Jefferson’s adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 novel “Erasure,” starring Jeffrey Wright, which went on to win the Critics Choice, BAFTA, Indie Spirit, and the USC Scripter Awards. But it never has competed with “Barbie.”

Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy on the set of "Oppenheimer"
Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy on the set of “Oppenheimer”Courtesy Universal Pictures

“Barbie” could be boosted by a sympathy vote for Gerwig, who didn’t make the Oscar cut for Best Director. When Ben Affleck missed a Best Director slot for “Argo,” the movie surged to a Best Picture win. That won’t happen here, but Adapted Screenplay “Barbie” could win. “Oppenheimer,” with 13 nominations, may lose a few.

Winning the Grand Prix at Cannes and gaining steam at the fall festivals was writer-director Jonathan Glazer’s chilling “The Zone of Interest,” starring Sandra Hüller, based on the Martin Amis novel set behind the scenes at Auschwitz, which was submitted by the UK for Best International Feature Film.

More prospective nominees emerged from the fall festivals. Winning the Golden Lion at Venice and wowing Telluride was the fantastical (and feminist) coming-of-age saga “Poor Things” (Searchlight), by Yorgos Lanthimos, director (“The Favourite”) and screenplay nominee (“The Lobster”). He reunites with his “The Favourite” Oscar nominees Emma Stone and co-writer Tony McNamara, adapting Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel. Is it too risqué for Academy voters? They are not as stodgy as they used to be.

Contenders are listed in order of likelihood to win.

Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach (“Barbie”)
Cord Jefferson (“American Fiction”)
Christopher Nolan (“Oppenheimer”)
Jonathan Glazer (“The Zone of Interest”)
Tony McNamara (“Poor Things”)

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