The Original and Adapted Screenplay Oscar race changed dramatically this week when the AMPAS writers branch ruled that both Moonlight and Loving were eligible for Adapted Screenplay, not Original Screenplay. The Writers Guild had previously determined that they qualified for Original, but the Academy disagreed.
Moonlight, it is based on the stage play, In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, but it was never actually produced. The writer of the play, Tarell Alvin McCraney, has a “story by” credit on the Moonlight script, but it was completely reworked by Director Barry Jenkins.
Loving is an original screenplay by Jeff Nichols but was originally written as an HBO documentary titled, The Loving Story by Nancy Buirski. Sheis listed as a producer on the Feature Film version. The Academy has determined that both sufficiently are based on pre-existing material to be classified as adaptations rather than originals.
Moonlight was one of the front-runners for Original Screenplay, but this now completely changes the Adapted Screenplay category by putting Lion, Fences, Silence, Nocturnal Animals, Sully, Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge further down the list. And greatly improves the chances of a win for La La Land and Manchester by the Sea in the Original Screenplay category. Both Moonlight and Loving will need to change their campaigns accordingly.