In a shocking turn of events, the film academy has deemed that Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, will contend in the Best Adapted Screenplay category at the 2024 Oscars rather than Best Original Screenplay.
Backlash Over Unexpected Category Placement
The decision, announced on January 3, just weeks before Oscar nomination voting begins, has sparked controversy and debate. As an original story not based on any existing material, “Barbie” was widely expected to campaign in the Original Screenplay race.
However, the Academy ruled that because the film draws from the pre-existing intellectual property of the Barbie brand and doll, it must compete as an adapted work. Many have questioned this determination given that the new movie is not directly adapted from any previous Barbie story.
Greta Gerwig co-wrote the script with her partner Noah Baumbach. Their brilliant track record — including Gerwig’s Oscar nods for “Lady Bird” and “Little Women” — made “Barbie” a presumed frontrunner for Original Screenplay glory.
The unexpected category placement threatens to diminish its chances by positioning it against formidable adapted works like “Women Talking” and “She Said.” It may also impact Gerwig’s Best Director Oscar hopes.
| Key Details |
| Film | “Barbie” |
| Writers | Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach |
| Previous Category | Original Screenplay |
| New Category | Adapted Screenplay |
| Release Date | July 2024 |
What Led to the Surprise Decision?
“Barbie” was widely tipped as an early Oscars 2024 frontrunner across multiple categories including Picture, Director, Actress and Original Screenplay. But questions emerged about its appropriate category placement given its basis on the iconic Mattel brand.
Variety notes that the Academy previously ruled that films drawing from pre-existing IP must campaign in Adapted categories. Recent examples include “The Lego Movie” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”
But because “Barbie” is not directly adapting any one existing Barbie story, producers reportedly sought clarification from the Academy about category eligibility in early December 2022.
On January 3rd, the verdict came back – much to the disappointment of Team Barbie which was hoping to compete in the less competitive Original race.
How Will This Impact the Film’s Oscars Chances?
The adapted placement brings “Barbie” up against fierce competition like Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” and Maria Schrader’s “She Said” about Harvey Weinstein. It seems unlikely to triumph over these lauded works.
By diminishing hopes for a Screenplay trophy, the move also impacts Greta Gerwig’s Director bid. Her chance to become the first woman to score multiple directing nominations relies heavily on writing success to strengthen her case.
On the plus side, a high profile Oscar campaign can provide great exposure for “Barbie” ahead of its July release. But the adapted misplacement wasn’t what Team Barbie envisioned. Gerwig and Baumbach’s script must now overcome unfair categorization to earn Oscar attention.
What’s Next for “Barbie” and Team Barbie?
All eyes will be on the Oscar nomination announcements on January 24th to see if “Barbie” can overcome the adapted placement to score Screenplay, Director, Actress and Picture nods.
It remains eligible in most other categories including Original Score and Song where it could find Oscar success. But without screenplay traction, Best Picture recognition seems doubtful.
The coming awards season publicity will fuel anticipation for the summer tentpole release. But the script’s demotion from original to adapted status casts early doubt on its critical reception.
Can the power duo of Gerwig and Baumbach overcome these hurdles to bring Oscar and box office glory to “Barbie”? After this early Oscars setback, the plastic fantastic dreams of this fake feminist icon face their first test.
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