Who's up for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar
Since most of this year's Best Picture contenders are adaptations, expect the competition in this category to be particularly tough. Anthony Minghella won nominations for his last two adaptations (1996's ''The English Patient'' and 1999's ''The Talented Mr. Ripley'') and will probably make it three in a row with ''Cold Mountain.'' Likewise, Brian Helgeland, who won in 1997 for cowriting ''L.A. Confidential,'' could be back in the hunt for his work on ''.'' And writers (who do the nominating) should be wowed by Peter Weir's seamless melding of two Patrick O'Brian novels into ''.''
Then the race tightens. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens were overlooked last year for ''The Two Towers,'' but voters will probably reward the stunning scale of their achievement on ''.'' We think the fifth slot will go to the witty, innovative script for ''American Splendor'' by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (like Jackson and Walsh, a married writing team). The ''Seabiscuit'' script by (a two-time nominee) is the likeliest spoiler here, but writers could also recognize the artistry of and Shawn Lawrence Otto's '','' or Olivia Hetreed's ''.''