The USC Libraries has announced this year’s finalists for the 33rd annual USC Libraries Scripter Award, which recognizes the most accomplished film and episodic series adaptations. The 2021 Scripter selection committee chose the finalists from a wide selection of 87 films and 65 episodic series adaptations.

The finalist writers for film adaptation are:

  • Mike Makowsky for “Bad Education” based on the New York magazine article “The Bad Superintendent” by Robert Kolker
  • Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt for “First Cow” based on the novel “The Half-Life” by Jon Raymond
  • Screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson and playwright August Wilson for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
  • Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” based on the nonfiction book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder
  • Screenwriter and playwright Kemp Powers for “One Night in Miami”

The finalist writers for episodic series are:

  • Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, for the episode “Meet the Lord,” from “The Good Lord Bird,” based on the novel by James McBride
  • Sally Rooney and Alice Birch for the fifth episode of “Normal People,” based on the novel by Sally Rooney
  • Ed Burns and David Simon for the sixth episode of “The Plot Against America,” based on the novel by Philip Roth
  • Scott Frank for the episode “Openings,” from “The Queen’s Gambit,” based on the novel by Walter Tevis
  • Anna Winger for the first episode of “Unorthodox,” based on the autobiography “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots” by Deborah Feldman

The studios and streaming platforms distributing the finalist films and current publishers of the printed works are:

  • “Bad Education”—HBO Films and New York magazine
  • “First Cow”—A24 and Bloomsbury
  • “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”—Netflix and Plume
  • “Nomadland”—Fox Searchlight and W. W. Norton
  • “One Night in Miami”—Amazon and Modern Classics

The networks and streaming platforms broadcasting the finalist episodic series and current publishers of the works are:

  • “The Good Lord Bird”—Showtime and Riverhead Books
  • “Normal People”—Hulu and Random House
  • “The Plot Against America”—HBO and Vintage International
  • “The Queen’s Gambit”—Netflix and Vintage Contemporaries
  • “Unorthodox”— Netflix and Simon & Schuster

While the award ceremony is typically held in the historic Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library at the University of Southern California, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the winning authors and screenwriters will be announced virtually on March 13 at scripter.usc.edu.

Serving on the selection committee, among many others, are film critics Leonard Maltin, Anne Thompson and Kenneth Turan; authors Michael Chabon and Janet Fitch; screenwriters Greta Gerwig, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby; producers Jennifer Todd and Paula Wagner; and USC deans Elizabeth Daley of the School of Cinematic Arts and Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries. Howard Rodman, USC professor and past president of the Writers Guild of America, West, chairs the 2021 committee.