More of a fun little bridge in-between announcements rather than a list you can lay action on when crafting your Oscar prediction list, the USC Scripter Nominations came in last night. Established in 1988, the Scripter is an annual honor by the Friends of the USC Libraries "in recognition of the best film adaptation of a book or novella." Unlike the Oscars though, this award for adaptation goes to both the screenwriter and the original author. I wonder who will show up if the award goes to Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire.
Who knew that was an adaptation, right? The USC nominating committee apparently did in a list not entirely racked in surprises. Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner's version of Walter Kim's Up In The Air has been the most honored adaptation of the year thus far. Nick Hornby's take on Lynn Barber's memoir, An Education, remains in the conversation. And Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell's District 9 is quickly becoming one to watch out for in the nomination fields. It's one of only two adaptations nominated by both the Golden Globes and the BFCA. Making its first appearance in this category for the season is Scott Cooper's adaptation of Thomas Cobb's Crazy Heart.
Of the adaptations in the running for the Oscar, all but Crazy Heart have to be put within the top six for their chances. Since 1999 only 28 of the 50 Scripter nominees have been matched by the Oscars. And just 23 of the 50 have received a Best Picture nomination. Therefore the numbers barely dictate 3 of these 5 will be nominated and if you choose to play that game then Up In The Air, An Education and District 9 would be the odds-on favorites. Crazy Heart is facing some rather stiff competition if this is the only script nod it is destined to receive. Wes Anderson & Noah Baumbach's take on Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox has won three awards to date (from San Francisco, San Diego & Utah) and received two other nominations from the BFCA and the Online Film Critics Society. In The Loop, the updating of British television's The Thick of It, has also received notices from the OFCS and the Chicago Film Critics Association. Either one or both could later displace Precious and/or Crazy Heart on Feb. 2.
While the hopes of adaptations of A Single Man, The Road and The Informant continue to fade (Invictus and The Lovely Bones haven't received nomination one), the bigger shame of the nominating committee comes in failing to nominate Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers for their wonderful adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Ten sentences turned into ninety-some minutes of one of the more profound children's tales in years and somehow the voters failed to recognize the "literary artistry and collaborative process of turning a book into a screenplay." Instead they chose a by-the-numbers tale of a drunken artist seeking redemption and the guilty non-pleasure tale of a girl who steals chicken, gets yelled at and is counseled by the star of Glitter. In case they misread the screenplays, the line "I'll eat you up, I love you so," is not from Precious.