Closer: Clive Coote
January 07, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Best Adapted Screenplay 2005: Oscar’s likely contenders

Remember those behemoths fighting for a nomination in this category last year (The Return of the King, Cold Mountain, Master and Commander)? Well, this year’s contenders are a quieter, more personal lot — with the exception, of course, of Hollywood veteran Alvin Sargent’s agile script for Spider-Man 2.

Since their film has won almost every preliminary award out there, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor can expect to have more glasses raised to them for Sideways. (The two were nominated in this category in 2000 for their Election script.) Other likely nominees include Golden Globe darlings Patrick Marber, who adapted Closer from his own stage play, and David Magee, who has been bringing grown men to tears with his script for Finding Neverland. That leaves two spots. One could go to Paul Haggis for turning a short story in F.X. Toole’s Rope Burns into Million Dollar Baby.

The other is more of a toss-up. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who won the Best Original Screenplay award in 2002 for Amélie, could enter the race, but only if his romantic WWI drama, A Very Long Engagement, starts to generate a bit more critical support (and box office dollars). Same could be said for Larry Gross’ We Don’t Live Here Anymore, last summer’s portrait of two couples interlocked by infidelity. But we believe that will ride off with the final nomination for his exhilarating story of a young Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries.

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