WGA Awards nominations limited as Oscar guidepost

The Writers Guild of America will reveal nominations on Friday (Jan. 4) for the 65th annual edition of its awardsfest. Only scripts written under the guild’s guidelines or those of several international partners are allowed to vie for these kudos which will be presented on Feb. 17 at the Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles. 

While 282 films are in the running for Best Picture at the Oscars, only 68 of these had original scripts that can vie for WGA recognition while just 44 had adapted screenplays that can contend. 

This year, two of our five frontrunners for the Original Screenplay Oscar — “Django Unchained” by non-guild member Quentin Tarantino and “Amour” from writer-director Michael Haneke — are out of the running with the WGA.

Tarantino won the Oscar for scripting “Pulp Fiction” in 1994 and was nominated in 2009 for “Inglorious Basterds.” And while foreign fare such as “Amour” has a hard time meeting the eligibilty requirements of the WGA, it has been welcomed by the writers branch of the academy. Just last year, Asghar Farhadi‘s script for Best Foreign-Language Film winner “A Separation” was nominated. 

Also disqualified by the WGA are Oscar hopefuls “Middle of Nowhere,” “Brave,” “The Intouchables” and “Seven Psychopaths.” 

Among our top five contenders for the Adapted Screenplay Oscar, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” won’t make the cut with the WGA. Also destined to be MIA from the WGA roster are: “Les Miserables,” “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Anna Karenina” and “Quartet.” 

Last year, only five of the 10 WGA nominees went on to contend at the Oscars. In 2010, six of the 10 WGA nominees went on to compete at the Oscars while only four managed to do this in 2009.  

Three of last year’s Oscar nominees for Best Original Screenplay — “The Artist,” “Margin Call” and “A Separation” — were ineligible with the WGA as was one of the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar contenders — “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” 

Both of last year’s WGA winners went on to repeat at the Oscars. “Midnight in Paris” won Woody Allen his fifth Original Screenplay award from the WGA while Alexander Payne claimed his third Adapted Screenplay prize for “The Descendants,” along with collaborators Nax Faxon and Jim Rash

In 2010, Aaron Sorkin won Best Adapted Screenplay at both kudos for “The Social Network.” He edged out the adapters of “127 Hours” and “True Grit” for both awards. 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.”

And 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.

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