USC Scripter Award nominations include Oscar frontrunners ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,’ ‘Nomadland’ …

The USC Scripter Award, now in its 33rd year, honors films adapted from novels, short stories, comic books, journalism, and other screenplays with both the source material and the adapted screenplay feted. This year’s nominees include three of our five leading contenders for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars — “Nomadland,” “One Night in Miami,” and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom — as well as seventh-ranked “First Cow” and the telefilm “Bad Education.”

The biggest snubs were “The Father” by Christopher Hampton, which ranks fourth by our odds, and “News of the World” by Paul Greengrass and Luke Davies, which ranks fifth.

The Scripter has forecast 14 of the eventual Oscar winners for Best Adapted Screenplay. Eight of those were in the past decade: “Call Me By Your Name” (2017) “Moonlight” (2016), “The Big Short” (2015), “The Imitation Game” (2014), “12 Years a Slave” (2013), “Argo” (2012), “The Descendants” (2011), and “The Social Network” (2010).

The other repeat winners were “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), “No Country for Old Men” (2007), “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “L.A. Confidential” (1997), “Sense and Sensibility” (1995), and “Schindler’s List” (1993).

Last year, four of the Oscar nominees for Adapted Screenplay first contended here:  Oscar winner “Jojo Rabbit,” Scripter winner “Little Women,” “The Irishman,” and “The Two Popes.” The fifth Scripter slot was filled by “Dark Waters” while the Oscars included “Joker.”

The Scripter award and the Oscar also went to two different films in 2019 (“Leave No Trace” and “BlacKkKlansman,” respectively), marking the first of two consecutive deviations after eight straight years of matches. If it happens again this year, it can virtually be counted on as a bonafide trend.

This year’s five contenders are:

“Bad Education”
Screenplay: Mike Makowsky
Source: Robert Kolker’s New York Times magazine article, “The Bad Superintendent”

“First Cow”
Screenplay: Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichert
Source: Raymond’s novel, “The Half-Life”

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Screenplay: Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Source: August Wilson’s play of the same name

Screenplay: Chloé Zhao
Source: Jessica Bruder’s nonfiction book of the same name

“One Night in Miami”
Screenplay: Kemp Powers
Source: Powers’s play of the same name

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