‘Descendants,’ ‘Moneyball,’ ‘Tinker Tailor’ among USC Scripter nominees

Don’t expect all the nominees for the USC Scripter Award — “A Dangerous Method,” “The Descendants,” “Jane Eyre,” “Moneyball” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” — to make the line-up for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. Among those leading Academy Award contenders snubbed: “The Help,” “Hugo” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

This prize, now in its 24th year, 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, the Scripter has forecast just seven of the eventual Oscar champs. Three of those instances were recent: “The Social Network” last year, “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) and “No Country for Old Men” (2007). The other repeat winners were “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “L.A. Confidential” (1997), “Sense and Sensibility” (1995) and “Schindler’s List” (1993).

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Last year, “The Social Network” faced three of the other four Scripter nominees — “127 Hours,” “True Grit” and “Winter’s Bone” — at the Oscars. The fifth Scripter contender, “The Ghost Writer,” was edged out at the Oscars by “Toy Story 3” which was ineligible for consideration here.  

In 2009, “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.

This year’s nominees are: 

A Dangerous Method,”
Screenplay: Christopher Hampton
Source: Non-fiction book “A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud and Sabina Spielrein” by John Kerr and 2002 play “The Talking Cure” by Hampton

The Descendants
Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Source: Novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, which was an expansion of her short story “The Minor Wars”

Jane Eyre
Screenplay: Moira Buffini 
Source: Novel by Charlotte Bronte

Screenplay: Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chevrin 
Source: Nonfiction book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” 
Screenplay: Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan
Source: Novel by John le Carre

The 32-member selection committee considered 109 entries. Paul Haggis, who won the Scripter in 2004 for “Million Dollar Baby” but lost the Oscar to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for “Sideways,” will be feted with the Literary Achievement Award. The awards will be handed out Feb. 18 at USC’s Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library.

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