More than 400 years after writing “Macbeth,” William Shakespeare has been nominated for a Hollywood award for his early 17th-century classic. “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” director Joel Coen’s adaptation of the Bard’s tragedy, has been named a finalist at the 34th annual USC Libraries Scripter Awards, where the nominations go to both the screenwriter of an adaptation and the original author on which the adaptation is based.
On a list unveiled by USC Libraries on Wednesday morning, Shakespeare is joined by three other deceased authors and one who is (probably) still alive but refuses to reveal her (?) real name. Finalists in the Scripters’ film category are “Dune,” with a screenplay by Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve from the novel by Frank Herbert, who died in 1986; “The Power of the Dog,” adapted by Jane Campion from the novel by Western writer Thomas Savage, who died in 2003; “Passing,” written by Rebecca Hall from the novel by Nella Larsen, who died in 1964; and “The Lost Daughter,” adapted by Maggie Gyllenhaal from the novel by Elena Ferrante, the pen name for an Italian author who remains steadfastly anonymous.
All five films are written or co-written by their directors. Film adaptations that didn’t receive nominations from the selection committee include “West Side Story,” “Nightmare Alley” and “Cyrano.”
In the Scripters’ television category, the finalists were episodes of “Dopesick,” “Maid,” “Station Eleven,” “The Underground Railroad” and “WandaVision.” Barry Jenkins, who was nominated for the “Underground Railroad” episode, was also chosen as recipient of the USC Libraries Literary Achievement Award for works that included 2017 Scripter winner “Moonlight” and 2019 finalist “If Beale Street Could Talk.”
Scripter finalists are chosen by a selection committee of critics, authors, film professionals and academics. Former WGA, West president Howard Rodman chairs the committee.
Over the years, about two-thirds of Scripter finalists go on to receive Oscar nominations in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Between 2011 and 2018, the same film won both awards for eight years in a row, though agreements between Oscar and Scripter voters have otherwise been rare.
The Scripter ceremony is currently scheduled to take place at an in-person ceremony in the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC campus, COVID-19 safety protocols permitting.
Here is the list of finalists from the Scripter press release:
The finalist writers for film adaptation are, in alphabetical order by film title:
- Screenwriters Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts, and Denis Villeneuve, for “Dune” based on the novel by Frank Herbert
- Maggie Gyllenhaal for “The Lost Daughter” based on the novel by Elena Ferrante
- Rebecca Hall for “Passing” based on the novel by Nella Larsen
- Screenwriter Jane Campion and author Thomas Savage for “The Power of the Dog”
- Screenwriter Joel Coen and playwright William Shakespeare for “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
The finalist writers for television are, in alphabetical order by series title:
- Danny Strong, for the episode “The People vs. Purdue Pharma,” from “Dopesick,” based on the nonfiction book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America,” by Beth Macy
- Molly Smith Metzler for the episode “Dollar Store,” from “Maid,” based on the memoir “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land
- Patrick Somerville for the episode “Wheel of Fire,” from “Station Eleven,” based on the novel by Emily St. John Mandel
- Barry Jenkins for the episode “Indiana Winter” from “The Underground Railroad,” based on the novel by Colson Whitehead
- Jac Schaeffer for the episode “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience,” from “WandaVision” based on Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby