The authors and screenwriters of A Dangerous Method, The Descendants, Jane Eyre, Moneyball and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy have been named finalists for the 24th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award.
The winning writers and screenwriters will be announced at a black-tie ceremony to be held Feb. 18 in Doheny Memorial Library.
The 2012 finalists, in alphabetical order by film title, are screenwriter Christopher Hampton for A Dangerous Method, adapted from the nonfiction book A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein by John Kerr and the 2002 stage play The Talking Cure by Hampton; screenwriters Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for The Descendants, adapted from Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel (itself an expansion of her first published short story, “The Minor Wars”); screenwriter Moira Buffini for Jane Eyre, adapted from the 1847 book by Charlotte Brontë; screenwriters Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin for Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game; and screenwriters Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan and author John le Carré for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Established by the Friends of the USC Libraries in 1988, the Scripter honors the screenwriter(s) of the year’s most accomplished cinematic adaptation, as well as the author(s) of the written work upon which the screenplay is based.
Zaillian and Sorkin are past Scripter recipients, while Payne, Hampton and le Carré are former Scripter finalists.
Zaillian won for his screenwriting on Awakenings, Schindler’s List and A Civil Action. In 2008, Zaillian was the first recipient of the Scripter Literary Achievement Award, which recognizes a writer’s sustained contribution to the art of adaptation.
Sorkin won the Scripter for his screenplay for The Social Network. Payne was a Scripter finalist for his work on About Schmidt and Sideways; Hampton for his work on Carrington and Atonement; and le Carré for The Constant Gardener.
Other previous Scripter winners include the screenwriters and authors of L.A. Confidential, The English Patient, Fried Green Tomatoes and 84 Charing Cross Road.
Co-chaired by Golden Globe-winning screenwriter Naomi Foner and USC screenwriting professor and vice president of the Writers Guild of America, West, Howard Rodman, the Scripter selection committee chose the five finalists from a field of 109 eligible films, up from the previous record of 73 adaptions set last year.
“Our nominees span centuries, subject and genre,” Foner said. “What they have in common is excellence, imagination and freshness of vision – making the telling of each story new again as it takes the journey from print to film.”
The 32-member selection committee includes film critics Kenneth Turan and Leonard Maltin; Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman and chief executive officer Tom Rothman; screenwriters Eric Roth, Geoffrey Fletcher, Tom Schulman, Gale Anne Hurd and Wesley Strick; film producer Gail Mutrux; author Michael Chabon; and USC deans Catherine Quinlan (libraries), Elizabeth M. Daley (cinematic arts) and Madeline Puzo (theatre).
“This year we cite five beautifully written films, each of which has strong literary origins,” Rodman said. “We honor all of the authors and screenwriters, even as we face the near-impossible task of choosing, from among these five, the Scripter Award recipient.”
The studios distributing the Scripter finalist films and the publishing houses – for those screenplays based on published works – are Sony Pictures Classics for A Dangerous Method, published in 1993 by Alfred A. Knopf Inc. (book) and Faber and Faber in 2003 (play); Fox Searchlight Pictures for The Descendants, published by Random House in 2007; Focus Features for Jane Eyre, originally published in 1847, with a film tie-in edition published by Vintage; Columbia Pictures for Moneyball, published by W. W. Norton & Co. Inc. in 2003; and Focus Features for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, with a film tie-in edition published by Penguin USA.
Academy Award winners Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford will return this year as honorary dinner chairs.
Paul Haggis – a 2005 Scripter winner for his screenplay for Million Dollar Baby and the recipient of two Academy Awards for his film Crash – will be honored with the 2012 USC Scripter Literary Achievement Award.
For more information about the Scripter – including information on tickets and sponsorship opportunities – visit http://scripter.usc.edu