The 33rd USC Scripter awards were held tonight in a virtual ceremony, awarding works in film and television adapted from novels, autobiographies, plays and magazine articles. Unique among groups that award adapted screenplays, the USC Scripter awards both the adapter and the original source.
The winner for film was Chloé Zhao and Jessica Bruder for Searchlight Pictures’ Nomadland based on the nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder. The winner for television was Scott Frank and Walter Tevis for the episode “Openings,” from Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, based on the novel by Walter Tevis.
Last year’s USC Scripter winners were Greta Gerwig’s script for Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Phoebe Waller-Bridge for Fleabag (television). Eight of the last 10 winners of the Scripter Award have gone on to win the Oscar for Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network (2010), The Descendants (2011), Argo (2012), 12 Years a Slave (2013), The Imitation Game (2014), The Big Short (2015), Moonlight (2016) and Call Me by Your Name (2017). This year, the USC Scripter winner was announced before the Oscar nominations, which are Monday, March 15.
Traditionally held in the historic Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library at the University of Southern California, the USC Libraries announced the winning authors and screenwriters to a worldwide audience on Saturday evening, online at scripter.usc.edu.
The 2021 Scripter selection committee selected the finalists from a field of 87 film and 65 episodic series adaptations. Howard Rodman, USC professor and past president of the Writers Guild of America, West, chairs the 2021 committee.
Serving on the selection committee, among many others, are film critics Leonard Maltin, Anne Thompson and Kenneth Turan; authors Michael Chabon and Janet Fitch; screenwriters Greta Gerwig, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby; producers Jennifer Todd and Paula Wagner; and USC deans Elizabeth Daley of the School of Cinematic Arts and Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries.
Here are the winners and nominees in film and television for the 33rd USC Scripter Awards.
Mike Makowsky for HBO’s Bad Education based on the New York magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker
Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt for A24’s First Cow based on the novel “The Half-Life” by Jon Raymond
Screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson and playwright August Wilson for Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Chloé Zhao for Searchlight Pictures’ Nomadland based on the nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder – WINNER
Screenwriter and playwright Kemp Powers for Amazon Studio’s One Night in Miami based on his play of the same name
Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, for the episode “Meet the Lord,” from Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird, based on the novel by James McBride
Sally Rooney and Alice Birch for the fifth episode of Hulu’s Normal People, based on the novel by Sally Rooney
Ed Burns and David Simon for the sixth episode of HBO’s The Plot Against America, based on the novel by Philip Roth
Scott Frank for the episode “Openings,” from Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, based on the novel by Walter Tevis – WINNER
Anna Winger for the first episode of Netflix’s Unorthodox, based on the autobiography “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots” by Deborah Feldman
Photos courtesy of 20th Century Studios and PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX