Consider the sources: A biography, a short story, a classic fantasy novel, an adult comic, and a picture book have been turned into the leading contenders for this year’s screenplay adaptation Oscar. Let’s start with a sure thing: Akiva Goldsman’s script for A BEAUTIFUL MIND will overcome criticism that it whitewashes the life of John Forbes Nash Jr. and land a nomination in tribute to the deft midmovie structural trick Goldsman pulls off. Rob Festinger and Todd Field’s IN THE BEDROOM brilliantly expands an Andre Dubus story into a full-blown portrait of two families and a town; it won top honors from the National Board of Review. And Peter Jackson, his wife Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens have won praise from both fans and newbies with the first installment of THE LORD OF THE RINGS.

The last two slots could go to SHREK, a William Steig book turned into a joke (and money) machine by Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, and Roger S.H. Schulman — and GHOST WORLD, director Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes’ uncompromising version of Clowes’ comic. But both films are vulnerable to the well-liked BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY and IRIS, or to possible late-winter surges from BLACK HAWK DOWN or THE SHIPPING NEWS, both of which will have to overcome the four-word perception writers in this category dread most: The book was better.

For your consideration


For your consideration

Even though its twisty plot relies entirely on circuitous coincidences, for sheer insight into the lives of unhappy couples, no other film matched the Aussie import LANTANA, adapted by Andrew Bovell from his play Speaking in Tongues.

A Beautiful Mind
  • Movie
  • 135 minutes