The USC Libraries has revealed the finalists for the 33rd annual USC Libraries Scripter Award, which honors the year’s best film and television adaptations, as well as the works on which they are based. 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 Oscar and Emmy nominees Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”). The year before was atypical, as the Scripter Award went to “Leave No Trace” screenwriters Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini (and author Peter Rock), who were not nominated for the Oscar.
Past winners of both the Scripter and the Oscar include “Call Me by Your Name,” “Moonlight,” “The Big Short,” and “The Imitation Game.” In fact, before 2019, eight Scripter Award winners went on to win Oscars. This year, streaming giant Netflix dominated, with three nominees (one film, two series), including “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “Unorthodox,” and “The Queen’s Gambit.”
The finalist writers for film adaptation are, in alphabetical order by film title:
Mike Makowsky for “Bad Education” based on the New York magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker
Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt for “First Cow” based on the novel “The Half-Life” by Jon Raymond
Screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson and playwright August Wilson for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” based on the nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder
Screenwriter and playwright Kemp Powers for “One Night in Miami”
The finalist writers for episodic series are, in alphabetical order by series title:
Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, for the episode “Meet the Lord,” from “The Good Lord Bird,” based on the novel by James McBride
Sally Rooney and Alice Birch for the fifth episode of “Normal People,” based on the novel by Sally Rooney
Ed Burns and David Simon for the sixth episode of “The Plot Against America,” based on the novel by Philip Roth
Scott Frank for the episode “Openings,” from “The Queen’s Gambit,” based on the novel by Walter Tevis
Anna Winger for the first episode of “Unorthodox,” based on the autobiography “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots” by Deborah Feldman
Traditionally held in the historic Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library at the University of Southern California, the USC Libraries will this year announce the winning authors and screenwriters to a worldwide audience on Saturday, Mar. 13, 2021, online at scripter.usc.edu.
Chaired by screenwriter and USC professor Howard Rodman, the 2021 Scripter selection committee selected the finalists from a field of 87 film and 65 episodic series adaptations; serving on the selection committee, among many others, are film critics Leonard Maltin and Kenneth Turan; authors Lisa Belkin, Michael Chabon, and Janet Fitch; screenwriters Mark Fergus, Greta Gerwig, Larry Karaszewski, Wesley Strick, and Erin Cressida Wilson; producers Tony Ganz, Gail Mutrux, Jennifer Todd, and Paula Wagner; and USC deans Elizabeth Daley of the School of Cinematic Arts and Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries.
The USC Libraries will announce the winning authors and screenwriters on Saturday, March 13, 2021, online at scripter.usc.edu, rather than the usual convivial formal dinner held in the USC Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library.