‘Ghost Writer’ surprises as one of five USC Scripter finalists

Posted by · 5:00 pm · January 5th, 2011

The USC Libraries Scripter Award is an annual honor (now in its 23rd year) in recognition of “the best adaptation of the printed word into film.” It is one of the more unique awards along the circuit as it is not only awarded to the screenwriter but the source material’s author, as well.

Past winners have included “Schindler’s List,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “No Country for Old Men,” obvious picks in their respective years. But the nature of the award has also generally allowed for some outside-the-box thinking, witnessed in nominations for “Get Shorty,” “The Bourne Supremacy” and “Iron Man,” among others over the years.

A few years ago the rules for eligibility were extended to include screenplays based on pieces of journalism, comic books and even other screenplays. This is why, it should be noted, that “Toy Story 3” is not eligible for the honor this year: It is a screenplay based on separately created characters rather than the written word.  Also not eligible are foreign language films.

The slate of finalists, as always, is decided upon by a large selection committee. You can peruse their names at the USC website. It’s an interesting mix of authors, journalists, screenwriters and academics, which tends to yield a somewhat unique set of contenders.

This year, I was dead on with my guesses, correctly expecting “The Ghost Writer” to join other key adaptations in this year’s Oscar race.  You can check out the full list of finalists at The Circuit.

The winners will be revealed at this year’s awards ceremony and dinner, which will take place on Saturday, February 4. After a year away from the event (I missed it last year due to the Santa Barbara Film Festival), I’m looking forward to attending once again.

Click here for last year’s list of finalists and winners.  And keep track of the Best Adapted Screenplay race as it unfolds via the category’s dedicated page here.

[Photo: Simon & Schuster]

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 1-05-2011 at 5:04 pm

    Jake D said...

    Big get for 127 Hours, which has not been feeling like a sure thing in Adapted.

    But mostly- awesome for Ghost Writer. Still one of my favorite films of the year, and the screenplay is obviously essential.

  • 2 1-05-2011 at 5:12 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Not surprised at all to see The Ghost Writer crop up here — it’s got an elegantly literary air that many of the heavier hitters in this category don’t.

    I still feel strongly that it’s going to “surprise” on Oscar nomination morning.

  • 3 1-05-2011 at 5:16 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I’ve been leaning that way for a while now but don’t really know what to bump.

  • 4 1-05-2011 at 5:20 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “The Town” not showing up here is semi-interesting. Too pulpy, despite a reasonably respectable source?

  • 5 1-05-2011 at 5:25 pm

    Graysmith said...

    Good choices, very happy for The Ghost Writer. A nice bump up for Winter’s Bone too, after the WGA-ineligibility.

    I also can’t help but feel like True Grit could upset The Social Network here. Just the fact that the Coens went back to the original book to “do it right” unlike the John Wayne film should be mighty pleasing to this crowd. The Social Network is a brilliant screenplay, but how much of it is faithfully adapted from the book?

  • 6 1-05-2011 at 5:29 pm

    Graysmith said...

    If The Ghost Writer’s gonna get any Oscar nominations it’d have to be for Desplat’s score and/or the screenplay. Longshots both, probably.

  • 7 1-05-2011 at 5:39 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “The Social Network is a brilliant screenplay, but how much of it is faithfully adapted from the book?”

    You mean considering it’s not adapted from the book at all? :)

  • 8 1-05-2011 at 6:28 pm

    JJ1 said...

    If ‘The Pianist’ almost won BP 8 years ago, I just wonder if ‘Ghost Writer’ has enough to sneak into the 10.

  • 9 1-05-2011 at 6:33 pm

    Graysmith said...


    Well that’s what I wanted to say, but didn’t because I really don’t know either way the nature of the adaptation. It always seemed like it was more of a book used for research than something that was actually adapted. Wasn’t there another book involved too that Sorkin was drawing from..?

    Anyway, given the Scripter penchant for adaptations of well-known books I’d say True Grit should be the favourite, no? Even if the Coens won this award just a few years ago.

  • 10 1-05-2011 at 6:39 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It wasn’t even used for research. Sorkin wrote his script independent of Mezrich’s book and even claims he never read it until after he finished the script. That, to me, is an original screenplay. But twist it into being based on the original pitch for the book and voila, you can sell a lot of books in addition to everything else.

    Dolla billz, y’all.

  • 11 1-05-2011 at 8:38 pm

    j said...

    Hmm, I wonder what the possibility would have been of Pixar finally winning a screenplay Oscar if TSN had been classified Original.

  • 12 1-05-2011 at 9:40 pm

    Maxim said...

    I agree that this particular award is interesting (and awarding the author in an ADAPTED field for I guess the verve their their work worked on by someone else is nonsensical but still undeniably agreeable) Do these awards actually carry much weight?

  • 13 1-05-2011 at 10:04 pm

    Ben M. said...

    As much as I like The Ghost Writer, I don’t think it has a strong BP chance and feel we will see the list come from the 11 presumed major contenders. Sadly, I fear Ghost Writer will be shut out, though screenplay and/or score would be its best shots.

    Actually, in the unlikely case that we were to get a lone director this year, Ghost Writer, along with Another Year, are the films I could see getting such a nom since both are very much “director’s pictures” and both come from academy favorite filmmakers.

  • 14 1-06-2011 at 6:19 am

    Anita said...

    Very happy about this. Is there any sense of how the Academy members feel about The Ghost Writer? Are they more or less receptive to Polanski since The Pianist (taking into account the new members)? Does it have enough support to get into the Director and Picture categories, alongside Adapted Screenplay and Original Score?