Alex Garland for Never Let Me Go
Flawed, certainly, but beautiful and dripping with so many great moments. It's a tricky source material to adapt and in a lot of ways, Garland accomplished much by what he chooses not to say.
David Lindsay-Abaire for Rabbit Hole
Gets its spot here for two reasons. Firstly, it's a great screenplay filled with wonderful moments that get to the core of its characters. Secondly, it's a great adaptation that never once feels like it was birthed from a stage play. The material feels tailored for the cinema in a way that few stage to film adaptations can boast.
Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Everything a great comedic script should be. Fun, well-paced, and ridiculously quotable. "I want to have his adopted babies." For sheer, unabashed comic enjoyment, I don't think think there was another film that matched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and it starts with the script.
Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network
Endlessly quotable, so deep and rich, and with a rhythm and pace that manages to feel lightning fast but never gimmicky. One of those rare scripts that's just so damn good you almost hate that you didn't write it yourself (for the writers out there). From its first scene, it hooks you and never lets go.
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for Winter's Bone
As I said in my write-up of the film, I went in expecting a fast and loose festival breakout whose sole purpose is to house a great performance. I was pleasantly surprised by its taut structure and engrossing mystery. And the words are just so good, "I already told you once with my mouth." Brilliant.
Even though the best screenplay of the year is an adaptation, it actually wasn't a huge bellweather year for adapted screenplays, at least in terms of the films I actually saw. 127 Hours is enjoyable, certainly and warrants consideration.
The Town, while a film I enjoyed, never really had a shot here because of how it stumbles in its last act. The ending, particularly. Ditto for For Colored Girls, but I'm citing it because it's Perry's most interesting work to date and quite possibly one of the most misunderstood films of the year.