It's Oscar Time: How Movie Adaptations Stack Up in the 2014 Race

Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’/Image © Paramount

In the hours leading up to this morning’s Academy Award nominations, the big question was whether a packed field in the Best Actor and Best Actress races would shut out two veteran greats -- Robert Redford for “All Is Lost” and Meryl Streep for “August: Osage County.” In the end the answer was, respectively, yes and no. Redford, whose storied career has brought in just one acting nomination for 1973’s “The Sting,” came up empty handed, while perennial Oscar favorite Streep, who until this morning had three wins and seventeen nods, pulled in another nomination.

And that’s pretty much the way the nominations went, generally living up to expectations with a few surprises along the way.

In the surprise department, Tom Hanks failed to garner a nomination for his work in “Captain Phillips” and Emma Thompson also came up short for her role as Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks.” (The latter film was almost shut out entirely, save for a sole nomination for Best Score.) Squeezing into the slots that many believed Hanks and Thompson had a lock on were Christian Bale for his performance in “American Hustle” and that wily Streep for “August: Osage County.”

In the no-surprise-here department, the Best Picture race, which can now feature up to ten nominations, honored the anticipated nine, and Best Director, which in recent years has snubbed big names (Ben Affleck anyone?) in favor of helmers of smaller films, this year kept to the big guys (if you can call Alexander Payne’s quietly captivating “Nebraska” a “big” film.)

Of course, at Signature, we’re always interested to see how movie adaptations stack up, and as they’ve been doing all awards season, they performed handily. “12 Years a Slave,” based on the autobiography by Solomon Northup, was the most honored adaptation, racking in nine nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress. Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” drawn from Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name also delivered admirably with five nominations, including one for Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort and a somewhat less expected nod for Jonah Hill in the Best Supporting Actor category. “Philomena,” based on The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, by Martin Sixsmith, got her due with four (including an acting nod for Judi Dench), and “August: Osage County” pulled in two (Julia Roberts joining Meryl Streep in the honors). And the non-adaptation adaption, Woody Allen’s A Streetcar Named Desire-inspired “Blue Jasmine,” earned two nominations for its actresses Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins.

Snub-wise, Oprah didn’t make the cut for “Lee Daniel’s The Butler,” which received no Oscar love at all, and Idris Elba for his turn in “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” was also left cold.

And finally, in the race that gets our pulses racing, Best Adapted Screenplay, there were few surprises. The honorees were, as expected, “Before Midnight,” “Captain Phillips,” “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” In another year “August: Osage County,” based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts, would likely have been shoe-in, but the five nominees have been going strong all awards season long.

So, there you have it folks. How do you think Oscar did? Snubs, surprises? Let us know in the comments.

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