‘The Descendants’ and ‘Midnight in Paris’ win WGA Awards

Midnight in Paris” won Woody Allen his fifth Original Screenplay award from the Writers Guild of America on Sunday while Alexander Payne claimed his third Adapted Screenplay prize for “The Descendants,” along with collaborators Nax Faxon and Jim Rash. (See TV report here.)

Only scripts written under the guild’s guidelines or those of several international partners are allowed to vie for these kudos. Three of this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Original Screenplay — “The Artist,” “Margin Call” and “A Separation” — were ineligible as was one of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar contenders — “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

While 265 films were in the running for Best Picture at the Oscars, only 33 of these had original scripts that could vie for WGA recognition while just 55 had adapted screenplays that could contend. Only five of the 10 WGA nominees are contending at the Oscars. Last year, six of the 10 WGA nominees went on to compete at the Oscars while only four managed to do this in 2009.  

Payne and Jim Taylor won the Adapted Screenplay award in 1999 (“Election”) and 2004 (“Sideways”). They reaped Oscar bids for both, winning for the latter. Among those Payne and his new collaborators edged out this year was double nominee Steve Zaillian (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Moneyball”). His co-writer on “Moneyball” was Aaron Sorkin who won this award, as well as the Oscar, last year for “The Social Network.” Also in the running were John Logan who reaped his second movie WGA bid for adapting “Hugo” and first-time nominee Tate Taylor who adapted his friend Kathryn Stockett‘s bestseller “The Help” and helmed the hit movie.  

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This was Allen’s 20th WGA bid. His other four WGA wins were: “Annie Hall,” 1977; “Broadway Danny Rose,” 1984; “Hannah and Her Sisters,” 1986; “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” 1989. Allen won the Oscar for “Annie Hall” and “Hannah” and is a strong contender this year. His WGA compeitition was: “Young Adult” scripter Diablo Cody, who won this prize and the Oscar in 2007 for “Juno,” two-time nominee Tom McCarthy (“Win Win”) and first-time contenders Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”) and Will Reiser (“50/50”). 

These awards were handed out in simultaneous ceremonies on both coasts at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. 

Among those Sorkin defeated at both kudos last year were the adapters of “127 Hours” and “True Grit.” However, two of his Oscar rivals — “Toy Story 3” and “Winter’s Bone” — were ineligible to contend at the WGAs. 

The eventual Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay — “The King’s Speech” — was also ineligible for the WGA award as was another Oscar nominee — “Another Year.” Oscar contender Christopher Nolan won that prize for “Inception” edging out, among others, Oscar rivals “The Fighter” and “The Kids Are All Right.”

In 2009, the four WGA contenders deemed Oscar worthy were: WGA winner “The Hurt Locker” which repeated at the Oscars and “A Serious Man” on the original front and eventual champ “Precious” and WGA winner “Up in the Air” on the adapted side. Two of the eventual five Oscar nominees for Best Original Screenplay — “Inglorious Basterds” and “Up” — were ineligible for WGA consideration. Likewise, three of the Best Adapted Screenplay contenders — “District 9,” “An Education” and “In the Loop” — were left out of the running by the WGA.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“50/50” 
Written by Will Reiser; Summit Entertainment

“Bridesmaids”
Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig; Universal Studios

X – “Midnight in Paris
Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics

“Win Win”
Screenplay by Tom McCarthy; Story by Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni; Fox Searchlight

“Young Adult”
Written by Diablo Cody; Paramount Pictures

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
X – “The Descendants
Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming; Fox Searchlight

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian; Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, originally published by Norstedts; Columbia Pictures

“The Help”
Screenplay by Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett; DreamWorks Pictures

“Hugo”
Screenplay by John Logan; Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; Paramount Pictures

“Moneyball”
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin; Based on the book by Michael Lewis; Columbia Pictures

BEST DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY
X – “Better This World”
Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega; Loteria Films

“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
Written by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek; Oscilloscope Pictures

“Nostalgia for the Light”
Written by Patricio Guzmán; Icarus Films

“Pina”
Screenplay by Wim Wenders; Sundance Selects

“Position Among the Stars”
Script by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich, Leonard Retel Helmrich; HBO Films

“Senna”
Written by Manish Pandey; Producers Distribution Agency

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