USC Scripter Award nominees aren’t always Oscar contenders

Don’t expect Wednesday’s nominees for the USC Scripter_Award — “127 Hours,” “The Ghost Writer,” “The Social Network,” “True Grit” and “Winter’s Bone”– to forecast the line-up in the adapted screenplay category at the Academy Awards. This prize only honors films adapted from novels, short stories, comic books, journalism and other screenplays with both the source material and the adapted screenplay feted.

As it excludes stage-to-screen adaptations and foreign-language films, this award, now in its 23rd year, has forecast just six of the eventual Oscar champs. Two of those instances were fairly recently — in 2008 with “Slumdog Millionaire,” and the year before, with “No Country for Old Men.” The other repeat winners were “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “L.A. Confidential” (1997), “Sense and Sensibility” (1995) and “Schindler’s List” (1993).

Last year, “Up in the Air” prevailed with the Scripter jury over three of its competitors at the Oscars — “District 9,” “An Education” and “Precious” — as well as “Crazy Heart.” The fifth Oscar nominee was the adapted script for “In the Loop.” However, it was “Precious” that eventually won over academy voters.

Historically, the WGA Awards lineup has been a far better harbinger of both the Oscar nominees and the eventual winner, with the WGA champ taking the Oscar six times in the last decade. However, last year WGA winner “Up in the Air” lost the Oscar to “Precious” and this year several of the leading adapted-screenplay contenders were ruled ineligible by the WGA, including “Toy Story 3” and Scripter nominee “Winter’s Bone.”

The Scripter, administered by USC, honors “the written word, creative collaboration and the profound results of transforming one artistic medium into another.” The selection committee is chaired by Oscar-nominated writer Naomi Foner (“Running on Empty”) and includes three-time Oscar-nominated scribe Lawrence Kasdan (“The Big Chill,” “The Accidental Tourist” and “Grand Canyon”) and Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”).

Compare the nominees of both awards over the last six years (with the winner in gold):

2009 SCRIPTER
“Crazy Heart”
“District 9”
“An Education”
“Precious”
“Up in the Air”

2008 OSCARS
“District 9”
“An Education”
“In the Loop”
“Precious”
“Up in the Air”

2008 SCRIPTER
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Iron Man”
“The Reader”
“Revolutionary Road”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

2008 OSCARS
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Doubt”
“Frost/Nixon”
“The Reader”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

2007 SCRIPTER
“Atonement”
“Into the Wild”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”
“Zodiac”

2007 OSCARS
“Atonement”
“Away From Her”
“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”
“No Country for Old Men”
“There Will Be Blood”

2006 SCRIPTER
“Children of Men”
“The Devil Wears Prada”
“The Illusionist”
“The Last King of Scotland”
“Notes on a Scandal”

2006 OSCARS
“Borat”
“Children of Men”
“The Departed”
“Little Children”
“Notes on a Scandal”

2005 SCRIPTER
“Brokeback Mountain”
“Capote”
“The Constant Gardener”
“A History of Violence”
“Syriana”

2005 OSCARS
“Brokeback Mountain”
“Capote”
“The Constant Gardener”
“A History of Violence”
“Munich”

2004 SCRIPTER
“The Bourne Supremacy”
“The Door in the Floor”
“Friday Night Lights”
“Million Dollar Baby”
“Sideways”

2004 OSCARS
“Before Sunset”
“Finding Neverland”
“Million Dollar Baby”
“The Motorcycle Diaries”
“Sideways”

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