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In yet another surprise (though I guess there should be none by now with this film), "Argo" has picked up an interesting win en route to the Oscars. Journalist Joshua Bearman (article, "The Great Escape"), author Antonio Mendez (book, "The Master of Disguise") and screenwriter Chris Terrio ("Argo") have taken the USC Scripter Award over some heated competition.
Most might have surmised that Tony Kushner and Doris Kearns Goodwin had the right combination to win such a prize, which recognizes adapted screenplays and their source material in a given year. Indeed, many of its past winners have erred on the side of prestige even when Oscar didn't. But more and more, the committee has whipped with the awards season winds like a weathervane, and that certainly appears to be the case this year. Or maybe people just really like this movie.
The question is, though, does Terrio have an angle on the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar? I have argued as much for a number of weeks now. Despite the presence of Best Picture nominees like "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook" in the category, it seems to me that the industry is collectively a big fan of Ben Affleck's film and will chalk it up wherever it makes sense. And the tension of the screenplay and film editing would make fair partners with a Best Picture prize.
But that's my logic. Ask others and they'll disagree. Tony Kushner is a name commanding respect. "Life of Pi" was taken from an "unfilmable" novel. "Silver Linings Playbook" (which shouldn't be underestimated in the category, mind you) snaps and crackles with dialogue and uplift. But all of that pales next to the fact that "Argo" has been "chosen," it seems. It's possible the big mid-phase lull gave some AMPAS members pause, but that's hard to quantify.
So, as I said in the podcast yesterday, I expect "Argo" to move right on through a WGA win next week (which carries more weight than Scripter, mind you, and could certainly go another way) and eventually grab the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. We'll see if that actually happens.
In addition to the annual Scripter prize, the Literary Achievement Award was also presented, to Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana.
Once again, your 25th annual Scripter Award winner:
Joshua Bearman, author of "The Great Escape" (article) Antonio J. Mendez, author of "The Master of Disguise" (book) and Chris Terrio, screenwriter
Remember to keep track of the season via The Circuit.