Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney have received a prestigious boost in the run-up to the Academy Awards.
The film’s screenplay — written by Jenkins, based on McCraney’s original story — earned the USC Scripter Award at the university’s 29th annual ceremony Saturday evening.
Since 1988, the University of Southern California’s Board of Councilors Libraries has honored printed works and the screenwriters who adapt them for the big screen. Both the author of the initial publication and the film scribe receive the award.
Each of the 2017 USC Scripter film nominees — Moonlight, Arrival, Hidden Figures, Lion, and Fences — also nabbed corresponding Oscar nominations. Since 2010, each screenplay that has won the Academy Award for best adapted screenplay has also taken the USC Scripter.
Moonlight, about a young black boy’s sexual maturation on the streets of Miami, was inspired by McCraney’s stage production and scored eight total Oscar nominations in January. As McCraney’s play was never produced, however, distributor A24 had initially campaigned Moonlight for a nomination in the Oscars’ original screenplay category, though the script was later deemed eligible only for a nod as an adapted work.
On the television side, FX’s The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, and The Run of His Life author Jeffrey Toobin) and AMC’s The Night Manager (David Farr and author John le Carré) tied for the Scripter’s top prize for episodic projects. This year marks the second time a USC Scripter prize has gone to a television production: Last year, HBO’s Show Me a Hero bagged the group’s inaugural TV accolade.