'12 Years a Slave' Writers Win USC Scripter Award

Solomon Northup shares the honor with screenwriter John Ridley.

The writers behind 12 Years A Slave have won the 26th annual USC Libraries Scripter Award.

12 Years a Slave is based on the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup. Northup posthumously shares the honor with screenwriter John Ridley. The Steve McQueen-directed drama stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, and also features Lupita Nyong'o, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt.

Ridley choked up while acknowledging Northup and his descendants (some of whom were in attendance) while accepting his award.

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The Scripters, established in 1988, honor the screenwriter(s) and original authors of what a 33-member selection committee believes is the year's most accomplished cinematic adaptation.

The awards were held at a black-tie ceremony Saturday at USC. Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford were honorary dinner chairs for the event.

The winners beat out the writers behind four other finalists, which were chosen from 86 eligible adaptations. The 2014 finalists, in alphabetical order by film title:

12 Years A Slave (author Solomon Northup and screenwriter John Ridley); Captain Phillips (Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty, authors of A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs and Dangerous Days at Sea, and screenwriter Billy Ray); Philomena (Martin Sixsmith, author of The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, and screenwriters Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope); The Spectacular Now (novelist Tim Tharp and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber); and What Maisie Knew (novelist Henry James and screenwriters Carroll Cartwright and Nancy Doyne).

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Previous winners include the screenwriters and authors of Argo (2013), The Descendants (2012) and The Social Network (2011).

The selection committee, co-chaired by screenwriter Naomi Foner and USC professor and Writers Guild of America West vice president Howard Rodman, includes film critics Leonard Maltin and Kenneth Turan; screenwriters Geoffrey Fletcher, Lawrence Kasdan, Callie Khouri and Steve Zaillian; authors Michael Chabon and Michael Ondaatje; producers Albert Berger, Gale Anne Hurd and Mike Medavoy; and USC deans Elizabeth Daley of the School of Cinematic Arts, Madeline Puzo of the School of Dramatic Arts and Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries.