Oscars: 'Two Popes' Screenplay Categorization Locked (Exclusive)

Two Popes - Publicity Still 3 - H 2019
Peter Mountain

There has been some uncertainty about which Oscar Anthony McCarten's script for Fernando Meirelles' The Two Popes — an acclaimed drama about the relationship between the former Pope Benedict XVI and the current Pope Francis — will be promoted for this awards season: best original screenplay or best adapted screenplay.

The Hollywood Reporter can exclusively confirm that McCarten regards it as an adapted screenplay, and that Netflix will push it accordingly. McCarten previously wrote the scripts for the films that three of the last five best actor Oscar winners landed their statuettes — Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour and Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody.

The original incarnation of the Two Popes script, Netflix asserts, was McCarten's play The Pope, which debuted at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton, England, in June 2017, and which McCarten then expanded. The film, however, spent quite a bit of time in postproduction, so McCarten, in between the unveiling of the play and the world premiere of the film at the Telluride Film Festival on Aug. 31, also had time to write a book, The Pope: Francis, Benedict, and the Decision That Shook the World, published in January of this year.

It certainly seems preferable this year to compete in the relatively thin adapted screenplay category (the other main contenders appear to be another Netflix film, The Irishman, as well as Joker, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and Jojo Rabbit) over the jam-packed original screenplay field (which includes Marriage Story, another Netflix title, plus Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite and The Farewell, among others).