the USC Writer Awards has announced its nominees for its 34th annual ceremony, recognizing the best film and television adaptations. Netflix topped the movies category with three films making the cut, all from female screenwriters who also directed their films: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,”The power of the dogby Jane Campion andWho passed” by Rebecca Hall. This is the first nomination for the three acclaimed filmmakers.
Joel Coen, twice nominated for ‘No Country for Old Men’ (2007), for which he won with his brother Ethan, and ‘True Grit’ (2010), won credit for adapting his black-and-white rendition of “The Tragedy of Macbeth” for Apple Original Films and A24. It’s a huge pick-up for the film, as no film adaptation of the cursed play was recognized in the screenplay category at the Oscars.
Another significant boost was given to “Dunesand its three scribes, Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve. The sci-fi adaptation seems intended to run the gamut of craft categories. Yet his biggest hurdle has been whether he can land a spot in the prestigious screenplay categories. Past sci-fi films such as “Avatar” (2009) and “Gravity” (2013) have failed with the writers’ branch, but another Villeneuve-directed picture, “Arrival” (2016), has found its way to a nod to the Oscars. Perhaps it’s a good sign that the Warner Bros. proceed to the vote for the nomination.
Snubs for the precursor group included “CODA” by Sian Heder, “Nightmare Alley” by Guillermo del Toro and Kim Morgan, “Tick, Tick…Boom!” by Steven Levenson and “West Side Story” by Tony Kushner. Long (but still notable) duds were “The Green Knight”, “House of Gucci”, “The Last Duel”, “No Time to Die”, and “The Tender Bar”. “Drive My Car” by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe, was not eligible.
Former ‘Moonlight’ (2016) winner Barry Jenkins was nominated for his illustrious ‘The Underground Railroad’, which aired on Amazon Prime Video. Additionally, Jenkins will receive the USC Libraries Literary Achievement Award for his contributions to cinematic storytelling, including his work adapting the 2017 Scripter winner “Moonlight” (2016) and the 2019 nominee “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
Alongside Jenkins’ limited series are Hulu’s “Dopesick,” Netflix’s “Maid,” HBO Max’s “Station Eleven,” and Disney Plus’ “WandaVision.”
The nominated films are:
“Dune” (Warner Bros) – Eric Roth, Jon Spaiths and Denis Villeneuve (based on the novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert)
“The Lost Daughter” (Netflix) – Maggie Gyllenhaal (based on the novel “The Lost Daughter” by Elena Ferrante)
“Passing” (Netflix) – Rebecca Hall (based on the novel “Passing” by Nella Larsen)
“The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Jane Campion (based on the novel “The Power of the Dog” by Thomas Savage)
“The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple Original Films/A24) – Joel Coen (based on the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare)
The television nominees are:
“Dopesick” (Hulu) – Danny Strong, for episode “The People vs. Purdue Pharma” (based on the non-fiction book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” by Beth Macy)
“Maid” (Netflix) – Molly Smith Metzler, for episode “Dollar Store” (based on the memoir “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land)
“Station Eleven” (HBO Max) – Patrick Somerville, for episode “Wheel of Fire” (based on the novel “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel)
“The Underground Railroad” (Prime Video) – Barry Jenkins, for episode “Indiana Winter” (based on the novel “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead)
“WandaVision” (Disney Plus) – Jac Schaeffer, for episode “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” (based on Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
The Scripter is a strong barometer for the Oscars in adapted scenario. Fourteen previous Oscar winners have made stops at the important guild, including “Schindler’s List” (1993), “The Social Network” (2010), “The Big Short” (2015) and “Call Me by Your Name ” (2017). Last year, amid a global pandemic, the band had their least predictive show, with just two of their five Academy nominees receiving attention: “Nomadland” and “One Night in Miami.” The eventual winner, “The Father”, was completely snubbed.
The Scripter 2022 Selection Committee selected the finalists from a panel of 69 films and 42 television adaptations. Howard Rodman, a USC professor and former president of the Writers Guild of America, chaired the committee. The selection committee also included film critics Leonard Maltin, Anne Thompson and Kenneth Turan, writers Janet Fitch and Walter Mosley, screenwriters Mark Fergus and Erin Cressida Wilson, producers Mike Medavoy and Gail Mutrux, and deans of the USC Elizabeth Daley and Catherine Quinlan.
The Scripters are scheduled to be held in person on Saturday, February 26 at the University of Southern California.
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