Sssssshhhhhhhhh!!… the librarians are deliberating… and the winner will be the recipient of the 26th annual Scripters Award, bestowed by the USC Libraries, a group that seems to have its own Dewey Decimal System of prognostication. (Actually, USC collects a varied group of critics, academics and screenwriters to vote on the best adapted screenplays every year.) At a time of year when every half-baked assemblage of film nerds is declared to have its own crystal ball of Oscar glory, the Libraries has a fairly envious track record (especially if Oscars are your business): They’ve picked five of the last six Best Adapted Screenplay winners and when they’ve been off the Academy track, frankly, some of their picks have been better.
It’s heartening to see not just the screenwriting but the SOURCES getting recognition. This year, the Scripter nominees – one of whom has been dead for 150 years -- are as follows. (The honor is intended for “the screenwriter or screenwriters of the year’s most accomplished cinematic adaptation as well as the author or authors of the written work upon which the screenplay is based”):
Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty, authors of “A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea,” and screenwriter Billy Ray, for “Captain Phillips.”
For “Philomena,” author Martin Sixsmith, who wrote the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee,” and screenwriters Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope.
Novelist Tim Tharp and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for “The Spectacular Now.”
Solomon Northup, author of his memoir “Twelve Years a Slave,” and screenwriter John Ridley for “12 Years a Slave.”
Screenwriters Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne for “What Maisie Knew,” adapted from the novel by Henry James.
“They don't necessarily consider themselves as a bellweather for the Oscars,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the selection committee is comprised of authors, screenwriters, producers, critics and academics “so it's bound to have slightly different choices than some of the other awards - see this year's nomination of ‘What Maisie Knew.’
“But they have been accurate in choosing a winner who has gone on to win an Oscar five out of the last six years, so I don't think their acumen for honoring future winners can be discounted.”