The writer of "Captain Phillips" was given top honors by his peers on Saturday at the annual Writers Guild Awards, a strong predictor of success in the screenplay categories at the Oscars in a month's time.
"Captain Phillips," inspired by the events of a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates, earned writer Billy Ray the prize for best adapted screenplay. The film was based on Richard Phillips' 2010 memoir "A Captain's Duty" about the ordeal.
"I also owe quite a debt to Captain Richard Phillips, who survived something that I know would've killed me," Ray said accepting the award. "It's really Captain Phillips who wrote this story; I just wrote it down."
It is the first Writers Guild Awards for Ray.
Winners of the awards handed out by the Writers Guild of America for original screenplay and adapted screenplay have gone on to win the corresponding Oscar awards for eight of the past 10 years.
"Captain Phillips" is not considered a front-runner for the best picture Oscar, which will be handed out on March 2.