Writers Guild nominations miss top Oscars contenders

Nominations for the Writers Guild of America Awards announced Thursday include some of the likely Oscar contenders, but snub others (“War Horse,” “Tree of Life”). However, only scripts written under the guild’s guidelines or those of several international partners are allowed to vie for these kudos, so many top films weren’t eligible including “The Artist,” “Shame” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”

While 265 films are 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. Last year, six of the 10 WGA nominees went on to compete at the Oscars while only four managed to do this in 2009.  

At this year’s WGA awards, Steve Zaillian competes against himself for adapting “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “Moneyball.” These bring his WGA haul to six bids with a win in 1993 for adapting “Schindler’s List” which also won him his only Oscar. His co-writer on “Moneyball” was Aaron Sorkin who won this award, as well as the Oscar, last year for “The Social Network.” Sorkin, who also contended for Original Screenplay in 1996 for “The American President,” won one of his nine TV bids for a 1999 episode of “The West Wing.”

Two-time WGA champ Alexander Payne, along with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, were cited for adapting “The Descendants.” Also in the running are 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.  

Woody Allen picked up his 20th Original Screenplay nomination for “Midnight in Paris.” He has won this award four times (“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 for both these awards this year. His WGA compeitition is: “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”). 

Among this year’s leading Oscar contenders for Best Original Screenplay, “The Artist” and “Beginners” were ineligible with the WGA as were “The Iron Lady,” “Like Crazy,” “Margin Call,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Melancholia,” “Rango,” “Shame” and “Take Shelter”.

Of the leading Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar contenders, “My Week with Marilyn” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” were out of the running at the WGA as were “Albert Nobbs,” “Carnage,” “Drive,” “Jane Eyre” and “The Skin I Live In.”

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These awards, will be handed out on Feb. 19, in simultaneous ceremonies on both coasts at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. The TV nominees were announced on Dec. 7. 

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.

Written by Will Reiser; Summit Entertainment

Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig; Universal Studios

“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

“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

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

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

“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

Screenplay by Wim Wenders; Sundance Selects

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

Written by Manish Pandey; Producers Distribution Agency


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