Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The 2011 USC Scripter Awards - finalists announced

The USC Libraries have announced their finalists for this year's Scripter Awards. They are The Ghost Writer, 127 Hours, The Social Network, True Grit and Winter's Bone.  Both The Ghost Writer and Winter's Bone were deemed ineligible for the WGA Awards in the adapted category

The Scripter Awards are for film adaptations of literary works and given to both the screenwriter and the author of the original work. Though the definition of adaptation has broadened to include newpaper and articles and comic books, the choices this year are all from books. Three are from novels while two are based more-or-less on non-fiction works.

I say more-or-less because no one seems to have noticed that The Social Network isn't a true adaptation. It was written concurrently with the book “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal” and Aaron Sorkin has said that he didn't consult it. Rather he says each wrote his own version of the story, adding “I don’t remember getting written material and didn’t get a look at any of the book until the screenplay was almost finished.”

With previous instances of concurrent story writing such as Christopher Nolan's Memento, AMPAS and other groups deemed the screenplays to be original rather than adapted.

All five, however, are strong candidates. I would single out either The Ghost Writer or 127 Hours, as especially strong adaptations but ultimately, I would choose 127 Hours as the year's finest adaptation. While the others represent very good writing, 127 Hours takes a book that even the author and subject of the story didn't believe could be made into a film, except as a documentary. Yet Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy found a way to take the story of Aron Ralston being trapped in a canyon for 5 days and make it thoroughly engaging. without any dull moments. I don't believe any other writers could have pulled it off.

Last year's Scripter Award went to Up in the Air by author Walter Kirn and screenwriters Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner. Before that, current nominees won the two previous Scripter Awards with the Coen brothers winning with 2008’s No Country for Old Men, and Beaufoy winning for 2009’s Slumdog Millionaire.

The selection committee is chaired by Naomi Foner and consists of 58 filmmakers, actors and writers, actors, such as Lawrence Kasdan, Ed Harris, Callie Khouri, Eric Roth, Peter Sarsgaard, Kenneth Turan and Steven Zaillian. They chose the five finalists from 73 entrants.

The winners will be announced on on February 4 at an awards banquet at the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC campus.

The 2011 Scripter nominees

The Ghost Writer
Roman Polanski, screenwriter

Robert Harris, author (novel, “The Ghost”)

127 Hours
Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy, screenwriters

Aron Ralston, author (book, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”)

The Social Network

Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter

Ben Mezrich, author (book, “The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal”)

True Grit
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, screenwriters

Charles Portis, author (novel, “True Grit”)

Winter’s Bone
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, screenwriters

Daniel Woodrell, author (novel, “Winter’s Bone”)

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