The adapted screenplay nominees are less political than this year’s field of originals, but here, too, the nominees are risk-takers.
Most audacious of the field is “Borat.” The character had appeared on “Da Ali G Show,” so the film is considered adapted even though its material is entirely new.
It was written somewhat like a documentary — but not exactly, said writer-star Sacha Baron Cohen after winning the Golden Globe: “It is a movie with a three-act structure. We try to make that three-act structure work in the real world. It is fusing between the two.”
The structure and many of the jokes were scripted by the five credited writers: Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips.
“Children of Men” is also the product of five writers: helmer Alfonso Cuaron, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby. The adaptation of P.D. James’ novel brings to life a dystopian near-future where the human race has become infertile, hope is gone and chaos reigns.
William Monaghan’s “The Departed,” an adaptation of Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs,” finds its chaos closer to home, as a cop infiltrates Boston’s Irish mob and a mobster infiltrates the cops.
Monaghan tries to write on several levels. “There’s no reason,” he says, “an action film shouldn’t also make a literature professor wet himself.”
“Little Children” was adapted by Todd Field and Tom Perotta from Perotta’s novel. They broke with convention by using some of Perotta’s narration from the book, even though the narrator is voiceover-only, not a character in the film.
“The whole script was built around the idea,” Field says. “I was gonna keep Perrotta in the film as much as possible. That was my attraction (to the project).”
Patrick Marber faced major headaches in adapting Zoe Heller’s “Notes on a Scandal.” Its leads were not innately likable: one a high school teacher having an affair with a student, the other an older colleague who stalks her. Also, the book’s narrator is the stalker, who seems normal at first.
Marber decided to reveal upfront that the narrator, Barbara (Judi Dench), is somewhat unhinged, though Marber calls her “pungently realistic” in her observations.
“The old are usually portrayed as a bit uncomprehending of the modern world,” he says, “whereas Barbara is completely lucid about the depravities around her.”
It’s a tribute to Marber’s writing that in what is nearly a two-hander, both Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench scored noms for the perfs.