Netflix Leads USC Scripter Nominees With Three Women Screenwriters, ‘Dune’ Gets Needed Boost

The television nominees included "Dopesick," "Maid," "The Underground Railroad" and "WandaVision."

USC Scripter Nominees - The Power of the Dog, Passing, Dune

The USC Scripter Awards has announced its nominees for its 34th annual ceremony, recognizing the best film and television adaptations. Netflix dominated the film category with three films making the cut, all from women screenwriters who also directed their movies: “The Lost Daughter” from Maggie Gyllenhaal, “The Power of the Dog” from Jane Campion and “Passing” from Rebecca Hall. This is the first nomination for all three acclaimed filmmakers.

Joel Coen, a two-time nominee for “No Country for Old Men” (2007), for which he won with his brother Ethan, and “True Grit” (2010), was recognized for adapting his black-and-white interpretation of “The Tragedy of Macbeth” for Apple Original Films and A24. This is a huge pick-up for the movie, as no film adaptation of the cursed play has been recognized in the screenplay category at the Oscars.

Another significant boost was given to “Dune” and its three scribes, Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve. The science-fiction adaptation looks destined to run the gamut in the artisan categories. Still, its most significant hurdle has been whether it can nab a spot in the prestigious screenplay categories. Past sci-fi films such as “Avatar” (2009) and “Gravity” (2013) have come up short with the writers branch, but another Villeneuve-directed picture, “Arrival” (2016), found its way to a nod at the Oscars. Perhaps this is a good sign for the Warner Bros. film moving into nomination voting.

Snubs for the precursor group included “CODA” from Sian Heder, “Nightmare Alley” from Guillermo del Toro and Kim Morgan, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” from Steven Levenson and “West Side Story” from Tony Kushner. Long shots (but still notable) misses were “The Green Knight,” “House of Gucci,” “The Last Duel,” “No Time to Die” and “The Tender Bar.” “Drive My Car” from Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe, was not eligible.

Barry Jenkins, a previous winner for “Moonlight” (2016), was nominated for his illustrious “The Underground Railroad,” which streamed on Amazon Prime Video. In addition, Jenkins will receive the USC Libraries Literary Achievement Award for his contributions to cinematic storytelling, including his work adapting the 2017 Scripter winner “Moonlight” (2016) and the 2019 nominee “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

Recognized alongside Jenkins’ limited series is Hulu’s “Dopesick,” Netflix’s “Maid,” HBO Max’s “Station Eleven” and Disney Plus’ “WandaVision.”

The film nominees are:

  • “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Eric Roth, Jon Spaiths and Denis Villeneuve (based on the novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert)
  • “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix) – Maggie Gyllenhaal (based on the novel “The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante)
  • “Passing” (Netflix) – Rebecca Hall (based on the novel “Passing” by Nella Larsen)
  • “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Jane Campion (based on the novel “The Power of the Dog” by Thomas Savage)
  • “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (Apple Original Films/A24) – Joel Coen (based on the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare)

The television nominees are:

  • “Dopesick” (Hulu) – Danny Strong, for the episode “The People vs. Purdue Pharma (based on the nonfiction book “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America” by Beth Macy)
  • “Maid” (Netflix) – Molly Smith Metzler, for the episode “Dollar Store” (based on the memoir “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land)
  • “Station Eleven” (HBO Max) – Patrick Somerville, for the episode “Wheel of Fire” (based on the novel “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel)
  • “The Underground Railroad” (Prime Video) – Barry Jenkins, for the episode “Indiana Winter” (based on the novel “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead)
  • “WandaVision” (Disney Plus) – Jac Schaeffer, for the episode “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” (based on the Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)

The Scripter is a strong barometer for the Oscars in adapted screenplay. Fourteen previous Oscar winners made a stop with the important guild including “Schindler’s List” (1993), “The Social Network” (2010), “The Big Short” (2015) and “Call Me by Your Name” (2017). Last year, amid a global pandemic, the group had their least foretelling showing, with only two of their five nominees going on to Academy attention: “Nomadland” and “One Night in Miami.” The eventual winner, “The Father,” was snubbed altogether.

The 2022 Scripter selection committee selected the finalists from a field of 69 films and 42 television adaptations. Howard Rodman, USC professor and past president of the Writers Guild of America, chaired the committee. The selections committee also consisted of film critics Leonard Maltin, Anne Thompson and Kenneth Turan, authors Janet Fitch and Walter Mosley, screenwriters Mark Fergus and Erin Cressida Wilson, producers Mike Medavoy and Gail Mutrux and USC deans Elizabeth Daley and Catherine Quinlan.

The Scripters are scheduled to be held in-person on Saturday, Feb. 26 at the University of Southern California.