‘If Beale Street Could Talk,’ ‘Black Panther’ Land Nominations for Scripter Award

As a nominee alongside screenwriter Barry Jenkins, the late James Baldwin joins a line of Scripter Award-nominated authors that includes Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King and Henry James

Last Updated: January 15, 2019 @ 7:24 AM


Thirty one years after his death, esteemed author James Baldwin has been nominated for his first Hollywood award. Baldwin is now a nominee for the 31st Annual USC Libraries Scripter Award, an honor that recognizes both the author of an original work (in his case, Baldwin’s 1974 novel “If Beale Street Could Talk”) and the writer of its film or television adaptation (Barry Jenkins, the “Beale Street” writer-director).

“If Beale Street Could Talk” is one of five films nominated for this year’s Scripter Award, along with “Black Panther,” “Leave No Trace,” “The Death of Stalin” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

In addition to Baldwin and Jenkins for “Beale Street,” the nominated writers are screenwriters Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole and original character creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for “Black Panther”; screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and author Lee Israel for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”; screenwriters Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin and David Schneider and graphic novelists Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin for “The Death of Stalin”; and screenwriters Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini and novelist Peter Rock for “Leave No Trace.”

In the television category, a tie produced six nominees: episodes of “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Looming Tower,” “Patrick Melrose” and “Sharp Objects,” plus the miniseries “A Very English Scandal.”

The nominations were announced on Tuesday by the USC Libraries, which launched the Scripter Award in 1988 and uses the annual dinner and awards ceremony as a fundraising event.

The nomination puts Baldwin, Stan Lee and the others in a long line of notable authors who have been nominated for the Scripter Award. Their predecessors include Anne Tyler (“The Accidental Tourist”), Stephen King (“The Shawshank Redemption”), Jane Austen (“Sense and Sensibility”), James Ellroy (“L.A. Confidential”), Henry James (“The Wings of the Dove”), Grahame Greene (“The End of the Affair”), Cormac McCarthy (“No Country for Old Men”), J.R.R. Tolkien (all three “The Lord of the Rings” books and movies), John le Carre (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “The Night Manager”) and Doris Kearns Goodwin (“Lincoln”).

Of this year’s nominees, Barry Jenkins is a past winner, having received the award for 2016’s “Moonlight.” Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini are past nominees for “Winter’s Bone.”

“Black Panther” is the first Marvel movie to be nominated for the award, and the second comic-book film after “Wonder Woman” last year.

On the television side, “The Handmaid’s Tale” screenwriter Bruce Miller and author Margaret Atwood won last year for another episode of that show.

Although the Scripter Award was launched as a somewhat idiosyncratic award with a literary bent, it has come to closely parallel the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Since 2000, about two-thirds of the 92 Scripter nominees have gone on to receive Oscar nominations.

For the last eight years in a row, the winner of the Scripter has also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The nominees were chosen by a selection committee composed of authors, screenwriters, critics, producers and academics, and chaired by USC professor and former WGA, West president Howard Rodman.

The Scripter Award ceremony will take place on Feb. 9 in the Edward L. Doheny Library on the USC campus in Los Angeles.

The Scripter Award nominees:

Finalists for film adaptation:

Screenwriters Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole for “Black Panther,” based on the character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Screenwriters Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and author Lee Israel for “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

Screenwriters Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, and David Schneider for “The Death of Stalin,” based on the graphic novel by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin

Screenwriter Barry Jenkins and author James Baldwin for “If Beale Street Could Talk”

Screenwriters Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini for “Leave No Trace” based on the novel “My Abandonment” by Peter Rock.

Finalists for television adaptation:

Tom Rob Smith, for the episode “The Man Who Would Be Vogue” from “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” and author Maureen Orth for the nonfiction book “Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History”

Bruce Miller and Kira Snyder, for the episode “Holly” from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and author Margaret Atwood

Dan Futterman and Ali Selim, for the episode “9/11” from “The Looming Tower,” and author Lawrence Wright

David Nicholls for the episode “Bad News,” from “Patrick Melrose,” based on the series of novels by Edward St. Aubyn

Marti Noxon for the episode “Vanish,” from “Sharp Objects,” and author Gillian Flynn

Russell T. Davies, for “A Very English Scandal,” and author John Preston