‘Little Women,’ ‘Jojo Rabbit,’ ‘The Two Popes’ Land Nominations for USC Scripter Awards

“Dark Waters” and “The Irishman” are also singled out for awards that go to the screenwriters and the authors of the works on which film and television adaptations are based

Little Women
"Little Women" / Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures

“Dark Waters,” “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Little Women” and “The Two Popes” have been nominated as the best film adaptations of 2019 by the USC Libraries Script Awards, which were announced on Wednesday morning.

The Scripter Award celebrates both the screenwriters of film and television adaptations and the original authors of the material on which they are based – which means that the nomination for “Little Women,” example, goes both to writer-director Greta Gerwig and to 19th-century novelist Louisa May Alcott, who wrote the 1868 novel on which the film is based.

“The Two Popes” is the only nominee in which the screenwriter and original author are the same person, with Anthony McCarten adapting his play “The Pope.” His script was judged to be an original screenplay rather than an adaptation by the Writers Guild of America, but the Academy classifies it as an adaptation for Oscar contention, and the Scripters agreed.

Of the nominees, “Dark Waters” is probably the biggest surprise, with other contenders for that slot including “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Just Mercy” and “Joker.”

The television nominees are episodes of “Fleabag,” “Fosse/Verdon,” “Killing Eve,” “Unbelievable” and “Watchmen,” “Fleabag” writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge being the sole nominee honored for adapting her own work.

The nominees were chosen from 61 film and 58 television adaptations by a jury chaired by USC professor and former WGA, West president Howard Rodman and consisting of critics, authors, screenwriters, producers and academics.

Scripter Award juries seldom saw eye-to-eye with Oscar voters in the early years of the award, which is now in its 32nd year. In this century, though, Scripter nominees and winners have come to closely parallel Oscar nominees and winners in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

Since 2000, about two-thirds of the Scripter nominees have gone on to receive Oscar nominations, though only two of the five did so last year. The 2018 awards also broke an eight-year streak of the Scripter winner going on to win the Oscar, with “Leave No Trace” winning the Scripter but not being nominated for the Oscar, and “BlacKkKlansman” winning the Oscar without a Scripter nomination.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC campus.

Film nominees:

Matthew Carnahan and Mario Correa for “Dark Waters” based on the New York Times Magazine article “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare” by Nathaniel Rich

Steven Zaillian for “The Irishman” based on the nonfiction work “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt

Taika Waititi for “Jojo Rabbit” based on the novel “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens

Greta Gerwig for “Little Women” based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott

Anthony McCarten for “The Two Popes” based on his play “The Pope”

Television nominees:

Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the first episode of “Fleabag” based on her one-woman play of the same name

Joel Fields and Steven Levenson for the episode “Nowadays” from “Fosse/Verdon,” based on the biography “Fosse” by Sam Wasson

Emerald Fennell for the episode “Nice and Neat” from “Killing Eve,” based on the novel “Codename Villanelle” by Luke Jennings

Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman for the first episode of “Unbelievable,” based on the article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong

Damon Lindelof and Cord Jefferson for the episode “This Extraordinary Being” from “Watchmen,” based on the comic book series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons