Who will get Oscar noms for Best Adapted Screenplay? -- We pick ''The Departed,'' ''Little Children,'' ''Thank You for Smoking,'' and ''Notes on a Scandal''

By Dave Karger
Updated January 12, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

It’s been 28 years since the screenplay for a remake earned a spot in this race, but William Monahan’s talky and surprisingly funny work on The Departed — a retooling of the Hong Kong drama Infernal Affairs — ensures that streak will end. Another safe bet is Todd Field and Tom Perrotta’s kinda-faithful, kinda-not adaptation of Perrotta’s multilayered suburban novel Little Children. Rookie filmmaker Jason Reitman used Christopher Buckley’s satiric book Thank You for Smoking as the jumping-off point for a riotous takedown of the lobbying industry, while Patrick Marber’s adaptation of Zoë Heller’s page-turner Notes on a Scandal was as juicy as the source material. Who’ll be the fifth? Bill Condon, who won this category for Gods and Monsters, could make the list again for Dreamgirls — though musicals usually have a tough time scoring screenplay nods. And Flags of Our Fathers boasts two lauded writers (Apollo 13‘s William Broyles Jr. and Crash‘s Paul Haggis) but seems to have lost ground lately. So give the last slot to Alfonso Cuarón and his small army of writers (five in all) behind the artfully bleak Children of Men. It’s rare for such an expansive writing team to make the cut, but luckily for Cuarón et al., the Oscar ballot lists only the movies’ titles, not the number of writers.

For Your Consideration

Bringing the guerrilla comedy of Da Ali G Show to the big screen, Sacha Baron Cohen and his cadre of writers turn the real-life folks his faux-Kazakh reporter encounters into unwitting co-writers, spinning a viciously satirical tale from fiction and reality. This high-wire-act approach to storytelling is radical. Does it deserve a nod? Why not?