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The Top 25 Best Adapted Screenplay Winners So Far (Updated)

Alright my friends, it’s time for another one of these. 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 this time around for The Father, our Adapted winner from last year? And what of Sian Heder and CODA, the newest recipient? 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. CODA (Sian Heder)
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: 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley), The Big Short (Adam McKay and Charles Randolph), The Father (Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller), Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi), Ordinary People (Alvin Sargent), and Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton)

Sian Heder

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


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1 year ago

This one is so hard! Trying to narrow down the choices and leave out so much!

1. LA Confidential
2. Sense and Sensibility
3. The Philadelphia Story
4. Casablanca
5. The Silence of The Lambs
6. Precious
7. The Pianist
8. The Best Years of Our Lives
9. To Kill A Mockingbird
10. Argo
11. Miracle on 34th Street
12. A Room With A View
13 , JoJo Rabbit
14, Dangerous Liaisons
15. In the Heat of the Night
16. The Imitation Game
17. Moonlight
18. Schindler’s List
19. CODA
20. All the President’s Men
21. Blackkklansman
22. The Big Short
23. Ordinary People
24. A Letter to Three Wives
25. Brokeback Mountain

HM 12 Years A Slave , All About Eve , Julia , Judgment at Nuremberg, A Beautiful Mind, Traffic, It Happened One Night, The Descendants, The Treasure of The Sierra Madre

Brian H.
Brian H.
1 year ago

Finally getting around to these lists. Just pulled up my comment from your list last year and I guess Cuckoo’s Nest got a little better than LA Confidential in the last year since I had the 1 and 2’s opposite. It’s funny how things move up in the mind just depending on what I’m thinking that particular day or what I re watched and didn’t recently. Tons of great winners. I’d say it goes about 40 deep of great screenplays and about 15 deep of really special ones.

1.      One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
2.      LA Confidential
3.      Godfather, The
4.      Casablanca
5.      Silence of the Lambs
6.      Social Network, The
7.      Godfather Part II, The
8.      No Country for Old Men
9.      To Kill a Mockingbird
10.  Sideways
11.  All the Presidents Men
12.  Departed, The
13.  French Connection, The
14.  BlackKkKlansman
15.  Midnight Cowboy
16.  Coda
17.  All About Eve
18.  Descendants, The
19.  Kramer vs Kramer
20.  Terms of Endearment
21.  In the Heat of the Night
22.  Father, The
23.  Judgement at Nuremberg
24.  Argo
25.  Mash
H/M – Amadeus, Big Short, Exorcist, From Here to Eternity, Jo Jo Rabbit, Moonlight, Ordinary People, Schindler’s List, Traffic, 12 Years a Slave



Written by Joey Magidson

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