A night at the Scripter Awards

Posted by · 11:17 am · January 31st, 2009

Cover of Q&A by Vikas SwarupUSC’s Scripter Awards ceremony is moving on up.  It’s evolved form an intimate gathering to a full spread awards dinner over the years, and last night’s festivities marked the first time the Scripter winner was unveiled at the show rather than beforehand.

It gave the atmosphere a tinge of anticipation.  Even with the “Slumdog” writing on the wall, the Scripter is a place where the adapted screenplay race can at least find some variety.  Or at least it used to be.  Like any precursor as of late, it seems the Scripter might be bent on predicting Oscar.  So of course, Simon Beaufoy’s name was called (along with “Q&A” author Vikas Swarup) for “Slumdog Millionaire,” and the steamroller keeps moving.

Jamie Lee Curtis was a nice enough emcee, bringing her signature brand of dry, slightly crazy humor to the table (a slight shift from Jason Alexander last year).  Earlier in the evening, Michael Chabon accepted the Literary Achivement Award (not a Lifetime Achievement Award, as last year’s introductory recipient Steven Zaillian made loudly clear).  Zaillian was on hand to present the honor and Chabon’s speech was touching, funny and certainly humble.  The best line: “I think it was Vladimir Nabokov who said, “Keep giving me prizes.  Prizes are awesome. (Laughter spreads throughout the room.)  He had the Russian accent, so…”

Chabon was also quite self-deprecating, noting that he had no creative input into the screenplays adapted from his work that seem to be met with success or at the very least production (2000’s “Wonder Boys” and the upcoming “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh”).  But five years of his toiling away at an adaptation of his own “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” has not even yielded a green light, he said.  “I was lucky enough to work on the second ‘Spider-Man’ film,” he said.  “You know the part where Spider-Man is holding up that big wall at the end and he says, ‘Hi,’ and Mary Jane says, ‘Hi,’ and Peter says, ‘This is really heavy’?  That was me.”

As for the night’s big honor, I thought Eric Roth and Robin Swicord might have a shot with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” or Justin Haythe, even, for “Revolutionary Road.”  After all, former winners have included “Children of Men,” “Capote,” “Million Dollar Baby,” “Capote,” “Mystic River” and “Seabiscuit” (in a tie), “The Hours,” “Wonder Boys,” “The Hurricane,” “A Civl Action,” “The English Patient,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “A River Runs Through It,” “Fried Green Tomatoes,” “Awakenings,” “The Accidental Tourist” and “84 Charing Cross Road,” none of them eventual Oscar winners for Best Adapted Screenplay.  That’s 16 out of 20.

But with added exposure for the Scripter comes, perhaps, added pressure to be relevant.  And the story of the year is nothing if not “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Swarup was not on hand to accept the award with Beaufoy.  He was back home in India, but Beaufoy used the majority of his brief speech to single out what Swarup’s novel has meant to his personal and professional life.

“I went to India when I was 18 I was rather scared of it,” he said.  “And I read his novel as a 41-year-old and I thought, ‘I’ve got to go back, this sounds amazing.’  He changed the way I wrote and he changed my life by my going back to India and has made everything different from now on and for the rest of my life, so, to Vikas.”

And so the season keeps chugging.

→ 5 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

5 responses so far

  • 1 1-31-2009 at 2:04 pm

    movielocke said...

    why the assumption that a slumdog win means they’re caving to pressure to be relevant.

    God forbid the people vote for the movie they thought was best! that can’t possibly be the explanation, or the reason why they cast a vote. No, they all, as individuals, nefariously conspire to not vote for the film they thought was the best but for the film they think should win the oscar. they so completely undervalue their own award–probably the only award these folks vote on–that they don’t treat voting at all seriously.

    Yup, it’s simply that they want to be relevent and influential and that is what commands their vote, not their personal opinions. right.

    you know why slumdog won the scripter?

    Because a lot of people really fucking like it. sorry it’s boring for bloggers that an independent film lacking distribution that is mostly in another language with no stars and child torture featured prominently is such a dull and unexciting story, it must be rough covering such a boring landscape as this oh-so-predictable-obvious-oscar-bait-frontrunner film winning awards.

  • 2 1-31-2009 at 4:08 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Just a thought, movielocke.

  • 3 1-31-2009 at 4:10 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    And FYI, you clearly haven’t read closely if you think I perceive the ‘Slumdog’ sweep as “boring.”

  • 4 1-31-2009 at 4:17 pm

    john said...

    soon enough slumdog will no longer be the flavor of the month and people will realize that while it is a nice movie… it was not worthy of a season sweep, here’s a hope the academy has some sense that some love-affairs are fleeting…

  • 5 1-31-2009 at 5:45 pm

    Glenn said...

    But isnt this a prize for the movie AND the original text? And so many people say the book is bad. Oh well…