Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method
Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method

The 2012 finalists for the USC Scripter Awards, honoring both screenwriters and the original authors of adapted screenplays, are the following:

  • Christopher Hampton for A Dangerous Method, adapted from John Kerr’s nonfiction book A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein and Hampton’s own 2002 stage play The Talking Cure;
  • Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash for The Descendants, adapted from Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel (itself an expansion of her short story “The Minor Wars”);
  • Moira Buffini for Jane Eyre, adapted from Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel;
  • Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin for Moneyball, from Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game;
  • Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan for their adaptation of John le Carré’s thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Notably absent from the Scripter Award shortlist are Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (adapted by Lee Hall and, more surprisingly, Richard Curtis from Michael Morpurgo’s novel) and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (adapted by John Logan from Brian Selznick book).

Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin are past Scripter winners, while Alexander Payne, Christopher Hampton, and John le Carré are all former Scripter finalists. Zaillian won in 1991, 1994, and 1999 for, respectively, Penny Marshall’s Awakenings, Steven Spielberg’s Best Picture Oscar winner Schindler’s List, and the Zaillian-directed A Civil Action. Additionally, in 2008 Zaillian was the first recipient of the Scripter Literary Achievement Award.

Sorkin won the Scripter award in 2011 for David Fincher’s The Social Network. Payne has been a Scripter finalist for his work on About Schmidt (2002) and Sideways (2004). Hampton was nominated for Carrington (1995) and Atonement (2007). Le Carré was in the running for The Constant Gardener (2005).

Directed by David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method stars Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, and Keira Knightley. Directed by Alexander Payne, The Descendants stars George Clooney and Shailene Woodley. Directed by Cary Fukunaga, Jane Eyre stars Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska. Directed by Bennett Miller, Moneyball features Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Robin Wright. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy stars Gary Oldman.

Co-chaired by Golden Globe-winning screenwriter Naomi Foner (Running on Empty, Bee Season) and USC screenwriting professor and vice president of the Writers Guild of America, West, Howard Rodman, the 32-member Scripter selection committee — which includes the likes of Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan, and screenwriters Eric Roth, Geoffrey Fletcher, Tom Schulman, Gale Anne Hurd, and Wesley Strick — picked the five finalists out of a record 109 eligible films.

The winning writers and screenwriters will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 18, in the historic Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library on the USC campus. Academy Award winners Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford will return as honorary dinner chairs.

Also at the Scripter ceremony, former winner Paul Haggis ( for the Clint Eastwood-directed Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby) will be handed the 2012 USC Scripter Literary Achievement Award. In addition to Million Dollar Baby, Haggis has written or co-written The Last Kiss (2003), In the Valley of Elah (2007), The Next Three Days (2010), and the two James Bond films starring Daniel Craig, Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). Haggis has also penned the story for the highly popular videogame Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Viggo Mortensen/A Dangerous Method photo: Liam Daniel / Sony Pictures Classics

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