Looking for the true indicator of the five nominees for best adapted screenplay?  We may have found it in the USC Scripter Awards.  Established in 1988 to honor the screenwriter as well as the author of the work in which the screenplay is based, this honor is not contingent on strict Writer's Guild rules.  Therefore, this year's nominees are much less surprising than the WGA's were earlier this week.  The 2011 finalists are:

"127 Hours"
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, adapted from the Aron Ralston autobiography "Between a Rock and a Hard Place"

"The Ghost Writer"
Roman Polanski, adapted from journalist Robert Harris' novel "The Ghost'

"The Social Network"
Aaron Sorkin, adapted from Ben Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money and Betrayal"

"True Grit"
Joel and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis

"Winter's Bone"
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini and author Daniel Woodrell

Both "Ghost Writer" and "Winter's Bone" were deemed ineligible for WGA nods in the adapted category.  Also notable is yet another non-acting honor for "127 Hours." That seems to indicate the Academy may have popped in Danny Boyle's masterwork at home instead of seeing it at the theater which would be good news for Fox Searchlight who is still trying to snag a best picture nod for the drama.

The selection committee was chaired by Naomi Foner (Oscar nominated screenwriter of "Running on Empty" and, um, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal's feisty mom) which selected the five finalists from 73 entrants.  The 58-member committee includes many Academy members and screenwriters such as Eric Roth and Robin Swicord and noted authors such as Michael Chabon.

The winner will be announced at a banquet on Feb. 4.