(Welcome to the Oscar Guide, your chaperone through the Academy’s 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 24, with the Best Picture finale on Friday, February 22.)
After three straight years of original screenplay-based films ruling the roost, the Best Picture race this year resumes its relationship with the Best Adapted Screenplay category, as the three arguable frontrunners for the top prize are locked in closer combat here. As it stands, the presentation of this award will be a key moment, potentially telling us a lot about how the rest of the evening is going to go. If “Argo” wins, you can probably ease into your seat; if it’s something else, we might still have a race.
The Academy wasn’t given a surfeit of options in this category, especially with such prestige adaptations as “Anna Karenina” and “On the Road” proving to be either fast faders or non-starters. The field they ended up with, then, was an obvious one, comprising five of the six adaptations in the Best Picture race. (The sixth, the sung-through “Les Miserables,” was never going to feature for its writing.) It’s a shame that the widely beloved WGA nominee “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” couldn’t make the cut, but with one higher-profile, Guild-ineligible indie favorite lying in wait as a replacement, these were always the likeliest five.
The nominees are...