Oscars Predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay – Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller Could Upset the ‘Nomadland’ Winning Streak

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UPDATED: Apr. 21, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: Conventional wisdom says “Nomadland” will add this to its winning night, but BAFTA spoke otherwise. With six noms, “The Father” could pick up a prize somewhere, and Christopher Hampton’s legacy will help the first-time director and co-screenwriter Florian Zeller nab a win for Sony Pictures Classics.

While not bold enough to predict a Hopkins upset officially, let’s consider this a signal that before you submit your Oscar pool, take a few facts into account. Zeller’s French play “Le Père” is immensely popular in Europe, where many AMPAS members are. Co-adapting the film with scribe Christopher Hampton, the Oscar-winning writer of “Dangerous Liaisons” (1989), his legacy and respect for the 75-year-old runs deep. Adapted screenplay is a category that the film can easily pick up with what I call the “too much love as I go down the ballot” method. This means that a voter who checked off “Nomadland,” Zhao and perhaps even its star Frances McDormand in best actress, gets to the adapted screenplay category and says something similar to what one member of the writer’s branch states: “I voted for Chloe twice, and I want to spread the wealth a bit, especially in this year.” That way of thinking could be a tipping point that benefits Hampton and Zeller.

Will win: “The Father” – Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller
Could win: “Nomadland” – Chloé Zhao
Should win: “Nomadland” – Chloé Zhao
Should have been here: “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” – Charlie Kaufman

Nomadland” (Searchlight Pictures) – Chloé Zhao
Awards Circuit Winners Chart (2020-2021)
2021 Awards Season Calendar


  1. "The Father" (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller (based on the play "Le Père" by Florian Zeller)

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    "Yes. She started to laugh. Not in a mean way, you understand. There was something kind about her. I was relieved. I don’t know how to describe it to you. As if she was going to be able to... Well, as if the two of them were going to get on really well..." - Olivia Colman (Anne to Paul)

    (2007) - "Atonement" - best adapted screenplay
    (1988) - "Dangerous Liaisons" - best adapted screenplay - WINNER

    DIRECTOR: Florian Zeller
    SYNOPSIS: A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.
    STARRING: Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Anthony Hopkins, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams

  2. "Nomadland" (Searchlight Pictures)
    Chloé Zhao (based on the book "Nomadland" by Jessica Bruder)

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    "I like you. You’re a really good person. You get along with people, for the most part and... I like being around you. We should drive to the beach tomorrow if the weather is good." - David Strathairn (Dave to Fern at his son's house)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
    SYNOPSIS: After losing everything in the Great Recession, an old woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad.
    STARRING: Frances McDormand, David Strathairn, Linda May, Swankie, Bob Wells

  3. "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" (Amazon Studios)
    Peter Baynham, Sacha Baron Cohen (screenplay and story by), Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines (screenplay and story by), Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Nina Pedrad (story by) Erica Rivinoja, Dan Swimer (screenplay and story by) - (based on Borat Sagdiyev by Sacha Baron Cohen)

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    "Luckily, I discover his preference for womens with ample cheeseproducing capacity. I take my daughter to man who can help." - Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat)

    (2006) - "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" - best adapted screenplay (Baynam, Cohen, Hines, Mazer)
    DIRECTOR: Jason Woliner
    SYNOPSIS: A satire on Trump’s America that follows a Kazakh journalist who’s sent to America to deliver a gift from his government to Vice President Mike Pence. Along the way, his worldview is turned upside down and steadfast beliefs are challenged by his teenage daughter.
    STARRING: Sacha Baron Cohen, Maria Bakalova

  4. "One Night in Miami" (Amazon Studios)
    Kemp Powers (based on the play "One Night in Miami..." by Kemp Powers)

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    "Don’t suddenly talk to me like I’m stupid. You know we are far from all the same. When white folks ain’t around, you see all the lightskinned girls gather in one corner of the room. All the dark-skinned girls gather in the other. And you know, comin’ up, light-skinned cats get it harder from other black people sometimes than they do from white people." - Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown to Malcolm)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Regina King
    SYNOPSIS: A fictional account of one incredible night in 1964, where four icons of activism, sports and music – Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Sam Cooke – gathered, discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the ’60s.
    STARRING: Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom, Jr., Joaquina Kalukango, Nicolette Robinson

  5. "The White Tiger" (Netflix)
    Ramin Bahrani (based on the novel "The White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga)

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    "In the darkness, we all slept together, with legs falling one over the other like one creature, a millipede." - Adarsh Gourav (Balram)

    OSCAR HISTORY: Never nominated

    DIRECTOR: Ramin Bahrani
    SYNOPSIS: The epic journey of a poor Indian driver who must use his wit and cunning to break free from servitude to his rich masters and rise to the top of the heap.
    STARRING: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao, Mahesh Manjrekar

† = no release date scheduled / could be delayed / may not be eligible
†† = could be campaigned in the lead or supporting categories / original or adapted screenplay categories

AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Best Adapted Screenplay)

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. The most awarded films in Oscar history are “Ben-Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” at 11 statuettes. The most nominated films in Academy history are “All About Eve,” “Titanic” and “La La Land” at 14. “La La Land” is the only film of the three to have lost best picture. The biggest Oscar “losers,” meaning most nominated and walk away with zero awards, are 1977’s “The Turning Point” and 1985’s “The Color Purple” at 11 each. Only nine writers have won best adapted screenplay twice – Robert Bolt, Francis Ford Coppola, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Alexander Payne, Mario Puzo, Michael Wilson, Alvin Sargent and George Seaton. Billy Wilder had the most nominations with seven, with John Huston close behind with six. James Ivory is the oldest nominee and winner ever for “Call Me by Your Name” at 89 while Joseph L. Mankiewicz is the youngest nominee ever at 22 for “Skippy,” with Charlie Wachtel being the youngest winner at 32 for “BlacKkKlansman.”

Academy Awards Predictions (All Categories)

2021 Golden Globes Predictions (Film)

2021 SAG Awards Predictions (Film)

About the Academy Awards (Oscars)

The Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars, is Hollywood’s most prestigious artistic award in the film industry. Since 1927, nominees and winners are selected by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). 17 branches are represented within the near 10,000 person membership. The branches are actors, associates, casting directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, documentary, executives, film editors, makeup and hairstylists, marketing and public relations, members-at-large, members-at-large (artists’ representatives), music, producers, production design, short films and feature animation, sound, visual effects and writers.

  • The Oscars are scheduled for Sunday, April 25, 2021.

About the Golden Globes

The Golden Globes Awards, hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is held annually with 93 members since 1944. The group recognizes excellence in film and television across drama and comedy or musical categories. Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” holds the record for the most awards won by a single film with seven. Milos Forman’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Alan Parker’s “Midnight Express” are next in line with six each. Robert Altman’s “Nashville” has the record for most nominations received by a film with 11 while Colin Higgins’ “Foul Play,” Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part III” and Mike Nichols’ “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” share the record for receiving the most nominations and not winning a single award at seven.

  • The Golden Globes are scheduled for Feb. 28, 2021.

About the SAG Awards

The Screen Actors Guild Awards, hosted by SAG-AFTRA, is an annual award show that has become one of the most important and key indicators for the Oscars. Four films have won the most SAG awards with three: 1999’s “American Beauty,” 2002’s “Chicago,” 2011’s “The Help” and 2017’s “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Three movies have been nominated for the most SAG awards with five: 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love,” “Chicago” and 2008’s “Doubt.”

  • The SAG Awards are scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 4, 2021