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USC Scripter Award to ‘Leave No Trace’ Breaks Oscar Predicting Streak

The award for best adapted screenplay went to a film that was not Oscar-nominated this year, breaking an eight-year predictive streak.

Debra Granik on the set of "Leave No Trace"

On the set of “Leave No Trace”

Scott Green

The 31st-annual USC Libraries Scripter Award honored the year’s best film and television adaptations, as well as the works on which they are based, at a black-tie ceremony on Saturday in the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library at the University of Southern California. This group of academics, industry professionals, and critics (for which I vote) is often predictive of the Adapted Screenplay Oscar race.

Last year’s Scripter winners were “Call Me by Your Name” screenwriter James Ivory (who won the Oscar), and author André Aciman; past winners include “Moonlight,” “The Big Short,” and “The Imitation Game,” which all won Oscars. In fact, the past eight Scripter Award winners have gone on to win Oscars.

Hugh Grant'A Very English Scandal' film panel discussion, New York, USA - 18 Oct 2018

Hugh Grant

Paul Zimmerman/REX/Shutterstock

Not this year. Amazon Studios’ limited series “A Very English Scandal,” adapted by Russell T Davies from the book by John Preston, took home the USC Libraries Scripter Award for television, which will compete in the 2019 Emmy race. The film award went to Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini’s script “Leave No Trace” (Bleecker Street), adapted from Peter Rock’s “My Abandonment,” which was ineligible for the WGA Awards and was not nominated for the Oscars.

Only Scripter nominees “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” were also Oscar-nominated; Nicole Holofcener and Barry Jenkins were in London to attend the BAFTA awards. Surprisingly, WGA nominee Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” was left out of the Scripter race; the adapted screenplay did not beat “If Beale Street Could Talk” at the Critics Choice Awards. (As a film adaptation, Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” was ineligible for the Scripters, as it was not based on a published source.)

Peter Rock, Catherine Quinlan, “Leave No Trace” producer Anne Harrison, Howard Rodman.

Sarah Golonka

Thus the Scripters’ predictive streak is over. Author Peter Rock accepted the film award for himself and the absent writers, who took some liberties with his novel. While “a lot of the things they did were frustrating and mystifying to me,” he said, he did like the final film.

Serving on the selection committee headed by USC professor Howard Rodman, are film critics Leonard Maltin, Peter Rainer, and Kenneth Turan; authors Lisa Belkin, Nalo Hopkinson, and Michael Ondaatje; screenwriters Mark Fergus, Wesley Strick, Larry Karaszewski, and Erin Cressida Wilson; producers Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa, Brad Simpson, and Jennifer Todd; and USC deans Elizabeth Daley of the School of Cinematic Arts and Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries, among many others.

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