Tony Kushner, "Lincoln"

The Best Adapted Screenplay award is always a challenging choice; on the one hand, the screenplay is the creative inspiration behind the movie. On the other, the screenplay is transformed as it goes from text to action, so much so that it can be difficult to distinguish the delivery of a talented actor or actress from the strength or weakness of the film’s written backbone.

The nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay run the gamut from the surreal adventure “Life of Pi,” written by David Magee, to the subversive romcom “Silver Linings Playbook,” adapted by director David O. Russell. Yet the winner should be “Lincoln,” adapted by Tony Kushner from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s political biography “A Team of Rivals.” Kushner’s script turns the dry and bureaucratic ratification of the 13th Amendment into a compelling and human drama, one which touches on grandeur but avoids an excess of moralizing and pomp. Kushner’s Lincoln is a figure the president rarely seems in history books—an uncertain, flawed, and deeply human man.

—Staff writer Ola Topczewska can be reached at