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The Top 25 Best Adapted Screenplay Winners So Far

Spike Lee

Alright folks, time for another one. Continuing a tradition I’ve been keen on for years, I’m ranking the new crop of Academy Award winners. For nearly all of the Oscar categories, you’ll see me list the top 25 recipients of that prize. Sometimes, our newest winner will appear. Other times, they’ll be relegated to the Honorable Mention category. Who knows, maybe one or two won’t even make the cut? It’s a list series that I’ll do each and every single year, in the weeks after the ceremony concludes. So, while this is a fun way to think about the Oscars in the aftermath of the latest telecast, it’s also a beginning for another column here on the site. Of course, definitely show us your own lists as well, in the comments section below. We’re definitely keen to know what you think!

This week, it’s a pretty big one…the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Often the spot for prestige fare to shine, it’s also a place where major Best Picture hopefuls (and winners) see their writers rewarded. The other screenplay category may seem “cooler” on the whole, but if you look at some of the scribes who have emerged victorious in Adapted Screenplay, they’re no slouches. This is also the spot where Spike Lee finally got his Academy Award, winning for BlacKkKlansman. For my money, Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network is tops here. Where do Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller rank for The Father, our most recent Adapted winner? Well, you’re in luck, as you can read on below to find out the answer…

Here now are what I consider to be the 25 best winners of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, to date:

Aaron Sorkin

25. 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
24. Brokeback Mountain (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana)
23. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel & Kevin Willmott)
22. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo)
21. No Country for Old Men (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
20. Sideways (Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor)
19. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo)
18. Traffic (Stephen Gaghan)
17. The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty)
16. Moonlight (Tarell Alvin McCraney and Barry Jenkins)
15. The Departed (William Monahan)
14. MASH (Ring Lardner Jr.)
13. Kramer vs. Kramer (Robert Benton)
12. Marty (Paddy Chayefsky)
11. Midnight Cowboy (Waldo Salt)
10. Judgment at Nuremberg (Abby Mann)
9. Argo (Chris Terrio)
8. To Kill a Mockingbird (Horton Foote)
7. Forrest Gump (Eric Roth)
6. The Silence of the Lambs (Ted Tally)
5. Schindler’s List (Steven Zaillian)
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben)
3. All the President’s Men (William Goldman)
2. Casablanca (Philip G. Epstein, Julius J. Epstein and Howard Koch)
1. The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)

Honorable Mentions: The Big Short (Adam McKay and Charles Randolph), The Father (Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller), Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi), Ordinary People (Alvin Sargent), Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton), and Terms of Endearment (James L. Brooks)

Florian Zeller

Stay tuned for another category later on this week or early next week!

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  1. This was a tough one. My list went 50 deep with what I consider great films and scripts so getting it down to 25 and 35 for the H/M’s was very difficult. Great job again.

    1. L.A. Confidential
    2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    3. Silence of the Lambs, The
    4. Godfather, The
    5. To Kill a Mockingbird
    6. Godfather Part II, The
    7. Departed, The
    8. All About Eve
    9. No Country for Old Men
    10. Casablanca
    11. Social Network, The
    12. In the Heat of the Night
    13. Kramer vs Kramer
    14. Sideways
    15. Exorcist, The
    16. BlacKkKlansman
    17. MASH
    18. Descendants, The
    19. Dangerous Liaisons
    20. From Here to Eternity
    21. Midnight Cowboy
    22. Terms of Endearment
    23. Judgement at Nuremberg
    24. French Connection, The
    25. Father, The
    H/M – All the President’s Men, Argo, Beautiful Mind, A, Doctor Zhvago, Jojo Rabbit, Miracle on 34th Street, On Golden Pond, Ordinary People, Schindler’s List, Traffic

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Written by Joey Magidson

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