Oscars: The Best Lines From This Year's Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Adapters_Words - P 2015
Courtesy of Everett Collection

Adapters_Words - P 2015

It takes a special kind of talent to turn books into movies — or, in Damien Chazelle's case, turn a short film into a longer one.

This story first appeared in the Jan. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

American Sniper: Jason Hall

Taya to Chris: "I need you to be human again. I need you here."

Hall came to Hollywood to be an actor — and almost made it, landing a recurring role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While researching Sniper, he formed an unlikely friendship with Chris Kyle, the late Navy SEAL on whom the film is based.

The Imitation Game: Graham Moore

Commander Denniston: "Enigma isn't difficult. It's impossible. The Americans. The French. The Russians. The Germans. Everyone thinks Enigma is unbreakable."

Alan Turing: "Good! Let me try, and we'll know for sure."

Moore was writing a TV comedy pilot for Fox when he bumped into Game co-producer Nora Grossman, who told him about her plans to adapt Andrew Hodges' biography of World War II code-breaker Alan Turing. Moore called it his "dream assignment."


Inherent Vice: Paul Thomas Anderson

Shasta: "I think they're working on some creepy little scheme."

Doc: "To make off with the hubby's fortune? Yeah, I think I've heard of that happening once or twice. And you want me to do what exactly?"

Shasta: "They want me in on it. They think I'm the one who can reach him when he's vulnerable. Or as much as he ever gets."

Doc: "Bare-ass and asleep."

Anderson considered adapting other Pynchon novels — Gravity's Rainbow and The Crying of Lot 49 — before settling on this story of a hippie private detective.



The Theory of Everything: Anthony McCarten

Stephen: "A physicist can't allow his calculations to be muddled by a belief in a supernatural creator."

Jane: "Sounds less of an argument against God than against physicists."

It took McCarten nearly 10 years — and dozens of script revisions — to convince Stephen Hawking's ex-wife, Jane Hawking, to allow him to make a movie based on her 1999 memoir, Music to Move the Stars: A Life With Stephen Hawking (later released in the U.S. as Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen).

Whiplash: Damien Chazelle

Fletcher: "The truth is, I don't think people understand what it is I did at Shaffer. I wasn't there to conduct. Any idiot can move his hands and keep people in tempo. No, it's about pushing people beyond what's expected of them. And I believe that is a necessity because without it, you're depriving the world of its next Armstrong, its next Parker."

Chazelle's script about a music student and his sadistic teacher seems like it would belong on the previous page, with the original screenplays, since it's an "adaptation" of Chazelle's own Sundance award-winning 18-minute short film, which itself is based on the writer-director's own turbulent years playing drums in a high school band.