Oscars: 5 reasons why ‘American Fiction’ will win Best Adapted Screenplay

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With mere days to go before the 96th Academy Awards, there are only a handful of top eight categories that still have some suspense. Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress all seem to be locked up at this point, and even Best Original Screenplay seems like a foregone conclusion for “Anatomy of a Fall,” which has been dominating in the category all season. However, Best Adapted Screenplay hasn’t been as predictable and could be a rare place in the top eight categories where we get a surprise. Although there is a lot of competition here, I predict Cord Jefferson to win in the category for “American Fiction.” Here are the main five reasons why …

1. “American Fiction” has been a hit with critics and audiences alike since the Toronto Film Festival.
Every year people look to the People’s Choice Award winner at the Toronto Film Festival, which usually goes on to play an important role throughout awards season. Such titles that have won this prize in recent years have been “La La Land,” “Green Book,” “Belfast” and “The Fabelmans.” At the 2023 festival, “American Fiction” won, setting up an awards run for the beloved comedy-drama that began at the Golden Globe Awards and has continued to the Oscars. On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds a 94% with 255 reviews, critics almost unanimous in their praise. Jordan Hoffman in the Messenger said, “’American Fiction’ is a hybrid of rich family drama and sharp satire, hilarious but never silly, emotional but never manipulative.” And Jourdain Searles in IndieWire said, “[The film] is an impressive debut from Jefferson, who has seamlessly made the leap from the small to big screen with a strong comedic voice and characters crafted with empathy and care.” The buzz around this film has been massive since its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and thus it’s likely to pick up at least one Oscar.

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2. The film over-performed on Oscar nominations morning.
Academy members proved they loved “American Fiction” by giving it nominations not only in the expected Best Picture, Best Actor for Jeffrey Wright, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Jefferson but also Best Supporting Actor for Sterling K. Brown and Best Score. Those latter two nominations were not expected, so “American Fiction” receiving five noms total proves there’s a lot of love for the movie and that Academy members will want to give it something. The film has an almost zero-percent chance to win in Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor and Score, so the one place they can reward “American Fiction” is in Adapted Screenplay, and that’s what they are going to do.

3. It won Best Adapted Screenplay at BAFTA without being nominated in any other category.
The biggest sign that “American Fiction” has a lot of strength behind it going into the Oscars was its win in the Best Adapted Screenplay category at BAFTA. Now, if the movie had won at BAFTA with it also being nominated in Best Film, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and potentially other categories, this still would’ve been a big deal. But what made this shocking to most awards pundits was that BAFTA voters snubbed “American Fiction” for nominations in every category except Adapted Screenplay. Thus, it seemed obvious BAFTA would’ve gone with any movie but this one for their Adapted Screenplay prize; however, they still chose “American Fiction,” which shows this film is unstoppable on its way to Oscar night in this particular category.

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4. Its closest competition, “Barbie,” has had category confusion and lost strength in recent weeks.
Again, Best Adapted Screenplay the Oscars this year is a competitive category, with the other nominees being “Barbie,” “Oppenheimer,” “Poor Things” and “The Zone of Interest.” Nothing has a zero-percent chance of a win here, although “The Zone of Interest” and “Poor Things” haven’t been able to win in Best Adapted Screenplay all season, and oddly enough “Oppenheimer” has also been ignored for wins in this category as well. The one other film some argue has enough strength to overtake “American Fiction” is “Barbie” since it’s won screenplay prizes so far this season, and both Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach have many Oscar nominations behind them without any wins. However, category confusion has hurt “Barbie” here, with many thinking it’s an original screenplay and not an adapted one. And “Barbie” dominance on awards season has faded in recent weeks, with the film not winning anything at BAFTA or SAG.

5. Ultimately no movie has the strength to overcome “American Fiction.”
Despite some significant competition in the category, I believe Cord Jefferson for “American Fiction” is going to take this one. The other four nominees will win in other categories at the 96th Academy Awards, but not in Best Adapted Screenplay!

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