Oscar Category Shift: ‘Whiplash’ Considered Adapted, Not Original, Screenplay

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Whiplash screenplay
Miles Teller in Whiplash

Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

At the beginning of the season I had Damien Chazelle‘s screenplay for Whiplash in the Adapted Screenplay category, believing the short film that came before the feature was where it all began. As a matter of fact, the short film was actually an “adaptation” of Chazelle’s feature screenplay, made in an effort to get raise the money to get the feature made. So, I moved it over to the Original Screenplay category, where I’ve had it ever since… until now.

Now, Pete Hammond at Deadline is reporting the Academy has listed Chazelle’s screenplay as an Adapted screenplay and done so without informing Sony Pictures Classics. Making matters more complicated, the Writers Guild of America considers it an original screenplay and will most likely be among their Original Screenplay nominees tomorrow, January 6, when their nominations are announced.

Hammond relays the following story sent to him from screenwriter John Gatins (Flight):

“I just tried to vote for Whiplash for a Screenplay Oscar nom and I couldn’t find it as a selection on my ‘help list’ — I searched and searched- I finally switched to the ADAPTED CATEGORY and I found it there. The Academy has made a HUGE mistake!!! They are gonna have to ask the writers’ branch members to re-vote….and it makes this whole voting process off kilter. HELP!!!…Unless Whiplash is NOT an original- am I crazy? Haven’t I read 100 articles about Damien wherein he tells the story of his life being the inspiration for the flick?”

Hammond goes over instances where situations such as this have happened before — Frozen River, Sling Blade — but the big question is how many will make the effort of finding it in the Adapted category before voting and how many will just ignore it altogether rather than making the effort?

That said, I’ve updated my predictions for the two categories as a result of this news, they are now as follows:

Original Screenplay

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
  3. Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  4. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
  5. Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Get the full field here.

Adapted Screenplay

  1. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  2. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  3. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
  4. Nick Hornby (Wild)
  5. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Get the full field here.

What’s most interesting about this is I’ve currently listed Chazelle’s screenplay at #5 as I do believe it will still be nominated. Thing is, while I didn’t see it having a chance at winning the Original category, should it make the nomination field at the Oscars it very well could win the category and I would definitely move it up as high as second right away if it does.

This also allows me the chance to move Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler screenplay into the field of five in the Original category. A screenplay I’ve only just recently received and you can download it for yourself right here.

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