Who's up for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar
First things first: ADAPTATION is an adaptation. Of what, we're not exactly sure. Regardless, previous nominee Charlie Kaufman even managed to squeak a fictitious collaborator -- ''brother'' Donald Kaufman -- past the Writers Guild and onto the ballot.
Two other writers who've snagged a major critics' prize this year are Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, whose ABOUT SCHMIDT won kudos from the L.A. critics and should land the pair, who also wrote 1999's Election, their second Oscar nod. Bill Condon, the winner in this category for 1998's Gods and Monsters, also deserves praise for CHICAGO. The lone rookie could be David Hare, who converted Michael Cunningham's time-jumping novel THE HOURS into a star-magnet screenplay.
Christopher Hampton (who won for 1988's Dangerous Liaisons) and Robert Schenkkan transferred THE QUIET AMERICAN to the screen, though they could get crowded out of this tight race. Ditto for NICHOLAS NICKLEBY's skillful compressor, Douglas McGrath, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN's Jeff Nathanson, THE PIANIST's Ronald Harwood (nominated for 1983's The Dresser), ROAD TO PERDITION's David Self, and 25TH HOUR's David Benioff. The culprits? THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS' team of Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson (all nominated last year), and newcomer Stephen Sinclair.