Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski, Robert Harris):
The script, cowritten by Polanski and novelist Robert Harris, is smart and ironic. Their style is simple and unfettered by needless genre tropes. The characters are written consistently with economical and effective dialogue. All around, a chilling and intelligent exercise in constructing tension.
Never Let Me Go (Alex Garland):
The film as a whole may have gone down as an admirable miss, but Garland's adaptation of Kuzuo Ishiguro's book is an elegant study of character and theme; themes about mortality, the intangibility of love, and how in the grand scheme of things, the amount of time we spend on this earth cannot quantify the lives we lead.
Rabbit Hole (David Lindsay-Abaire):
Lindsay-Abaire opens up his Pulitzer-winning play for the screen so effectively that you never would have guessed that it was based on a play. Understated grief and tactful humour mix to form an interesting emotional flavour. A fine study of not only coping with loss, but coping with other people's coping.
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin):
If the movie has to belong to anyone, it's Aaron Sorkin. His loose adaptation of
Ben Mezrick's book slices through the perceived glory of the Internet with a cynical but perspicacious edge, extrapolating from a small group of characters to make comment on broader societal virtues and faults. The dialogue is deliciously verbose.
True Grit (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen):
Despite the conspicuous absence of their usually idiosyncratic personality, the Coens' faithful retelling of Charles Portis' novel provides a rip-roaring adventure tale with smooth character arcs, well-appointed comic relief, and delighfuly antiquated dialogue. Impeccably paced to boot.
Just missed: The American, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, The Town, The Way Back