HAMMOND: WGA Nominations Exclude 'The Artist' But Don't Offer Many Surprises

WGA Awards Nominations Announced

The Writers Guild nominations seemed to fall right in line with expectations, with one glaring exception. The noticeable absence of Oscar frontrunner The Artist in Original Screenplay was not a diss but simply because that film — written by its director, Michel Hazanavicius — was ineligible under the WGA’s award rules as it was not produced under a guild contract. Mike Mills’ Focus Features film Beginners was similarily ineligible in the Original Screenplay category along with titles like Shame and Margin Call, with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Drive among those in the Adapted Screenplay lineup.

The Writers Guild, unlike SAG, DGA or PGA, will only consider movies made under their auspices, which means often that likely Oscar nominees in the writing categories are often AWOL at the WGA, which believes these awards should be restricted to union-approved productions. Animated and foreign films also regularly fail to make the cut at WGA but often wind up on the Academy’s list, so the absence of Paramount’s Rango for instance shouldn’t be an indication of its ultimate chances with Oscar.

Certainly The Artist, even though it is a silent film, will likely be nominated by the Academy’s writers branch at the expense of one of the WGA’s strong list of nominees: 50/50, Bridesmaids, Midnight In Paris, Win Win and Young Adult. Terrence Malick’s Cannes winner The Tree of Life, missing from the WGA lineup along with the WGA-ineligible screenplay for the Iranian Oscar entry A Separation, would also appear to be strong contenders to replace one or two of the WGA choices when Academy Award nominations are announced January 24.

In the adaptation category that includes The Descendants, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Help, Hugo and Moneyball, potential Academy possibilities missing WGA script nods include War Horse, Drive, and George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s The Ides Of March. Also shut out were a pair of Warner Bros contenders — Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and (not so surprisingly) the final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 — neither of which showed up in other guild contests so far. Dustin Lance Black’s original script for Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar was also bypassed by the WGA membership.

The WGA announcement this morning brought continued good news for Universal’s unexpected awards-season darling Bridesmaids. In addition to Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s script in the Original Screenplay group, it also landed significant PGA and SAG nominations to add weight to its growing chances of landing a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Usually the pedigree of so many guild nods would indicate a strong chance in the Academy’s Best Pic lineup, but the guild bounty is likely to stop here, as Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig would seem a long shot for a Directors Guild nomination.

Sony should be happy to see a nomination for Steven Zaillian’s adapted screenplay for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as its back-to-back PGA and WGA nods this week have upped its Oscar chances. Until now, prospects have looked rather dim, with previous buzz centering primarily on star Rooney Mara. It was a good day for Zaillian, who will be competing against himself as his Moneyball (written with Aaron Sorkin) was also nominated.

The last of the major above-the-line guild nominations will be announced Monday morning, when the DGA weighs in with its all-important and telling list that should define this wide-open year even more.

  1. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” should be renamed Extremely Pretentious and Incredibly Offensive. Painful to watch so many missteps. Just terribly executed yet a good book. Perhaps some books should remain unadapted.

  2. I like how Dragon Tattoo got nominated without having screeners, member viewings or….A SCRIPT TO READ!

    1. There were several screenings for guild members and I ran into several WGA members at a Dragon Tattoo screening.

  3. Young Adult, really? I’m not a DC-basher, but that script was truly decent at best. Hell, Mission Impossible IV, as ‘popcorn’ as it is, was a more impressive script/film.

    1. Totally agree with you on this one. Young Adult was the only holiday movie I saw that felt actually painful. So mean-spirited in its treatment of small town Minnesota (shot in New York!).

      1. It wasn’t entirely shot in NY… some parts of it were shot in MN. And I read the script before I saw the movie and I loved it. I’m glad Cody is getting the recognition she deserves. It’s not a movie for everyone but it’s a damn good movie.

    2. Completely disagree. I thought the script was one of the years best and I read it before I even saw the movie. And some of the film was indeed shot in MN… not entirely in NY. I loved the movie and I’m glad it’s getting recognition. Now on to those acting nominations…

    3. Loved Young Adult. Diablo Cody did an incredible job with the script. Loved this film. Everything about it was fresh and original.

  4. Even if the Artist were produced under a guild contract, I’m not sure it would really merit a nomination for writing. While the movie has great style, charm, and performances, it’d be hard for me to vote for the writing of a film with no dialogue and a paper-thin story. The Artist will get plenty of acclaim and nominations by the Oscars, but I hope the Academy takes a page from the WGA and does not nominate it for writing.

    1. Agreed. WHile I like the movie I must admit after hearing so much hoopla about it since Cannes, I was expecting something beyond brilliant. It was at the top of my “to see” list and I went with a great deal of excitement. The movie was simply good, charming and novel. Also it was way too long IMO and in fact, I dozed off a few times.

      1. If you “dozed off a few times,” it’s no wonder you weren’t impressed, as you undoubtedly missed some key plot points.

  5. Agreed. Dreadful movie. The only real part was the day it was based on. Dreadful characters, scenario and dialog. Maybe some books should remain as remainders.

  6. “Certainly The Artist, even though it is a silent film…”

    When are people going to stop confusing “screenwriting” with “the talking parts”?

    We’re all old enough to know that the dialogue of a film is only a portion of the work of writing a screenplay, right? Ultimately, the heavy lifting is in the storytelling — and that’s the spine, structure, conceits and point of view of the tale. That exists independent of the dialogue.

    I know this confusion let’s DGA members and actors think they “wrote” the script because they think they can take credit for all the things that don’t involve dialogue, but really… at least this site should know better.

    1. Sorry, but I beg to differ. Dialogue is a HUGE component of writing. And while storytelling and structure are indeed important, dialogue conveys just as important amount of character, voice, and point of view. Ask any writer who has sat in front of computer thinking of the perfect line or even word to express something. I don’t “confuse screenwriting for the talking parts,” but I also don’t minimize the hard work writers do giving their characters voices.

      1. If you want to assume I was *denigrating* the value of dialogue in any way, that’s your business.

        But I can assure you that you didn’t contradict my post in any way.

  7. First , come Oscar night A Separation should have no problem winning for original script. If there is justice in the world it will also get at least picture and director. Best of the year.

    Second, what the h*** is wrong with the guilds this year ? Bridesmaid ??? Yeah, women who behave as childish as the fratboys in-so-called comedies of the past 20 odd years. That’s some gold right there. Empowerment !!! Hillarious.

  8. Gotta say, YOUNG ADULT is so one-note for me. She creates an anti-hero with no redemption, and people are giving her credit for, what, being novel? PT Anderson does this every time he writes a film, and with a lot more layer, depth, and thought to it.

    There are way better anti-heroes than a bitch who wants her high school life back.

    1. Wow, I am so sick of people dismissing the film and Diablo Cody. I’ll admit I wasn’t the biggest Cody fan when Juno came out because the dialogue was way too cutesy and annoying. But she really proved herself with Young Adult. And the film goes a hell of a lot deeper than “a bitch who wants her high school life back”– it’s not that simple and I thought Charlize Theron does a magnificent job of giving a layered and biting performance. You should watch the movie again without so much judgement and you might discover things that you hadn’t noticed before. I recently did that with Drive and I enjoyed it more the second time than the first time.

  9. As a WGA member, I will not be voting for any film that did not send a screener. If they believe we’re not worthy enough to receive the end result on disc, then, piss on ’em…

  10. Uh, duh, The Artist had no writer credit listed. Quite glaring. Did it write itself? Hence, no nomination for a non-writer.

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