Life is better than fiction for Cord Jefferson.

The American Fiction screenwriter and director nabbed an Oscar Sunday night for Best Adapted Screenplay. The critically lauded film from Amazon MGM Studios, starring Jeffrey Wright, Sterling K. Brown, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Erika Alexander, bested fellow nominees Oppenheimer, Barbie, Poor Things, and The Zone of Interest in the category.

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An image of Cord Jefferson standing on a city sidewalk looking into a camera on the set for American Fiction
American Fiction Screenwriter, Cord Jefferson

Wright and Brown were nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. American Fiction also received a Best Picture nomination, making Jefferson the only person of colour to be nominated in two separate categories at this year’s Academy Awards. The film and composer Laura Karpman were nominated for Best Original Score, as well.

Actor Jeffrey Wright standing on a street in front of several homes looking off into the distance. He is on the set for American Fiction.
Actor Jeffrey Wright playing Thelonious 'Monk' Ellison in a scene from American Fiction.
Actor Sterling K Brown sitting on a house front porch and looking off at something behind the camera in a scene from the movie, American Fiction.
Actor Sterling K. Brown playing Clifford Ellison in a scene from American Fiction.

Jefferson thanked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and said the win “means the world to me” in his speech. He also implored the industry to take chances on more small-budget films and newcomers like himself.

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“Thank you all who worked on this movie, for trusting a 40-year-old Black guy, who never directed anything before,” Jefferson said. “It has changed my life. I love you all. Thank you so much.”

What is American Fiction about?

Based on Percival Everett’s 2001 novel Erasure, American Fiction follows the professional conundrums of an erudite author named Thelonious “Monk” Ellison. Monk, who is an English literature professor, grows increasingly frustrated when publishing houses stop buying his highbrow books in favor of stereotypically Black fare from other authors.

In retaliation, Monk assumes a pseudonym and writes a trope-riddled book about Black life in the ghetto but is horrified when publishers clamour to buy the book and it becomes a huge hit. The financial success of his parody provides the money Monk desperately needs to take care of his ailing mother (played beautifully by Leslie Uggams) and only makes matters worse when it comes to his professional aspirations. Meanwhile, Monk’s family suffers a huge loss all while Monk tries to enjoy a new romance and tackle sibling rivalry.

American Fiction has been a runaway hit this award season, winning a BAFTA Film Award, a Critics Choice Award, two Film Independent Spirit Awards, and four AAFCA Awards.

How can I watch American Fiction?

American Fiction is available to stream now on Prime Video.