WGA Awards Nominations Announced

Related: What Do WGA Film Nominees Mean For Oscar?

The WGA unveiled its nominations for theatrical motion pictures this morning in three categories: Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay and Documentary Screenplay. Winners will be announced February 17 at simultaneous Writers Guild Awards ceremonies in LA and NY. Among the usual awards-season names missing include Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Amour, Beasts Of The Southern Wild and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which were excluded from the nomination ballots for not being produced under guild jurisdiction or under a collective bargaining agreement in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the UK. Oscar guidelines are less restrictive. Here are the nominees announced today out of the 112 eligible screenplays:

Flight, Written by John Gatins; Paramount Pictures
Looper, Written by Rian Johnson; TriStar Pictures
The Master, Written by Paul Thomas Anderson; The Weinstein Company
Moonrise Kingdom, Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola; Focus Features
Zero Dark Thirty, Written by Mark Boal; Columbia Pictures

Argo, Screenplay by Chris Terrio; Based on a selection from The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired Magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman; Warner Bros. Pictures
Life of Pi, Screenplay by David Magee; Based on the novel by Yann Martel; 20th Century Fox
Lincoln, Screenplay by Tony Kushner; Based in part on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin; DreamWorks Pictures
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Screenplay by Stephen Chbosky; Based on his book; Summit Entertainment
Silver Linings Playbook, Screenplay by David O. Russell; Based on the novel by Matthew Quick; The Weinstein Company

The Central Park Five, Written by Sarah Burns and David McMahon and Ken Burns; Sundance Selects
The Invisible War, Written by Kirby Dick; Cinedigm Entertainment Group
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Written by Alex Gibney; HBO Documentary Films
Searching for Sugar Man, Written by Malik Bendejelloul; Sony Pictures Classics
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Written by Brian Knappenberger; Cinetic Media
West of Memphis, Written by Amy Berg & Billy McMillin; Sony Pictures Classics

Feature films eligible for a Writers Guild Award were exhibited theatrically for at least one week in Los Angeles during 2012 and were written under the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA) or under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement of the Writers Guild of Canada, Writers Guild of Great Britain, Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild, or the New Zealand Writers Guild. Theatrical screenplays produced under the jurisdiction of the WGA or an affiliate Guild must have been submitted for WGA awards consideration.

Documentaries eligible for a Writers Guild Award featured an onscreen writing credit and were exhibited theatrically in Los Angeles or New York for one week during 2012. While credited documentary writers were required to join the WGAW’s Nonfiction Writers Caucus or the WGAE’s Nonfiction Writers Caucus to be considered, scripts need not have been written under WGA jurisdiction to be eligible for awards consideration.

The Writers Guild Awards honor outstanding writing in film, television, new media, videogames, news, radio and promotional writing, and graphic animation. The awards will be presented jointly in all competitive categories during simultaneous ceremonies on Sunday, February 17, 2013, in New York at the B.B. King Blues Club and in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott L.A. LIVE. For more information, please visit http://www.wga.org or http://www.wgaeast.org.

  1. No Django Unchained? Was it not eligible. Always consider it something of a given that QT gets the screenplay nom from all the relevant guilds / awards cereminies.

  2. Was THE HOUSE I LIVE IN not eligible?! It’s one of the most rigorous and focused docs I’ve ever seen–a brilliantly written argument. What gives?

  3. Zero Dark Thirty is one of the most overrated films in some time. The story is linear, episodic and has no surprises. Anyone who didn’t see the car exploding on the base coming from miles away (no pun intended) has never seen a movie before, not to mention that entire sequence adds nothing to the story.

    1. Of course we saw it coming, but it didn’t ruin the moment. it was awesome because it was like watching a train wreck in progress. And come on, Tin Man, it didn’t add anything? it didn’t speak to the fact that these agents who had already sacrificed their personal lives to track Bin Laden down also ended up sacrificing everything for the sake of the homeland? it’s not a classic, it definitely was too long, but calling it one of the most overrated movies in sometime might be overstating your disdain.

      1. We don’t know what the agents sacrificed because we knew nothing about them personally, a failure of the screenplay which made it hard to care about any of them, most importantly the lead. The female agent who got blowed up was particularly unlikeable and it was written in such a “this-is-my-baby” way that she almost seemed more concerned with getting credit than with the larger objective. Let me also say that I loved The Hurt Locker and have nothing against Boal or Bigelow other than for making a tedious film.

    2. Zero Dark Thirty should not be eligible in the original screenplay category it’s based on various books and other factual material. It’s definitely an adapted screenplay so it’s in the wrong category.

    3. Yup to all that–ZDT was a big disappointment. The story should have been the raid and the Seals who pulled it off, but Bigelow + Boal had spent years developing their How-We-Didn’t-Get-Osama script, with the female CIA agent at its center, and they just updated that. Talk about losing the plot…. As for FLIGHT, it’s astonishing that it got nominated–the script was a witless blueprint for a snooze of a film. My money’s on SILVER LININGS. Haven’t been a huge Russell fan in the past, but this was a wonderful, funny, heartfelt, and thoroughly surprising piece of writing that deserves all the recognition it’s getting.

  4. Now that a film like Flight receives a nomination because Tarantino refused to play by the Guild’s ridiculous rules, maybe more people will understand this system is nothing but a fraud.

    Of that list, I would say Looper is the best and Flight is the worst; Argo is the best and Pi is the worst. I can’t talk about the Docs, as I’ve only seen TCP5.

    1. Looper is lazy story-telling. Your main character just sits on a farm and does nothing for half the movie. So many holes in that script and movie. It got a nom for the idea, not the script.

      The writing in Flight is top notch. Gets my vote.

    1. The disbelief is shared. The writer was lucky that the arcane eligibility requirements weakened the field. It’s a truly horrid piece of work; here’s hoping it does not get an Oscar nomination.

  5. The WORST part of The Master was the messy screenplay, which introduced threads of interesting ideas then promptly dropped them. For example, the scene where Amy Adams masturbates Hoffman in the bathroom was a terrific well-written scene that had nothing to do with anything in the film before or after. Anderson-who is an excellent director-seriously needs to collaborate with an ACTUAL WRITER to organize his thoughts and add structure to his all-over-the-place ideas. The WGA should know better than to support his stupid, auteurist ramblings.

    1. Gonna have to disagree with you, Snarkfest. If PTA had indeed stuck to the script, IMHO it would’ve been a far better movie, instead of something that nuked itself of all energy in the 3rd act. The script’d 3rd act had great tension, the movie died after the window-to-the-wall sequence. In fact, of all PTA’s scripts (and I’ve read them all) this is his most traditionally-structured. Hits traditional plot points in a way his other scripts don’t. Go back and read it and you’ll see. I agree with you, though, there were lots of missed opportunities in this story, but I fault PTA the director far more for than than PTA the writer for that.

      1. I’m a WGA member and did I read the script. Anderson’s “traditional plot points” are non-existant. Hoffman’s son confesses to Phoenix that his dad is a fraud. Very interesting plot twist in the movie that offers lots of promises and intrigue. Then Anderson has the son disappear for the rest of the movie until one scene at the end with nothing further said about the subject. Yet another story thread that is introduced, then dropped never to be explored by anyone in the film again. Sorry, this is lazy, bad “writing.” I’ll say it again: if he COLLABORATES with an ACTUAL WRITER, then HIS BEAUTIFUL DIRECTION will not go to waste on another confusing, non-commercial bore-fest. By the way, I find this true of ALL his films, especially BOOGIE NIGHTS, a subject I know a lot about as I have a scholarly interest in pornography.

  6. I don’t understand why Lincoln is getting all this critical acclaim. Probably the most overrated film of the year. The Dark Knight Rises should take its place in the adapted screenplay category. Sure it had its flaws, but altogether it was a much more rounded film than Lincoln.

  7. I hope a few writers enjoy today because the Academy will be replacing a few on these lists.

    I’m going to bet Flight makes it to the Oscars, but Looper isreplaced by QT’s Django Unchained.

    And while I thought Les Mis was a disster, I’m sure it’s going to knock off the FAR better Perks of Being a Wallflower…

  8. So happy to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower nominated. I will be really, really upset if the Academy ignores it.

  9. Go Rian Johnson! Thrilled to see some well-deserved love for Looper, one of the best films of the year. So happy it wasn’t overlooked.

  10. Think the original screenplay category is weakest in a long time. Number of worthy entrants in the adapted category. Not sure what the background on Zero dark Thirty is, but wonder if it truly qualifies as an original script as its based on so much source material. Don’t think the script or movie is all that special, will be curious to see where it winds up at the B.O.

  11. Why all this love for “Perks of a Wallflower?” Its dialogue was incredibly precious. It was full of cliches. The groovy guy and the cool girl who take on the nerdy misunderstood kid is such recycled crap. Any film that has a scene of a teenager screaming out the window of a fast moving car while the cool guy smiles at the wheel – I’m sorry, that’s not a good film. Pretentious, so pretentious. I guess people have forgotten all those dreadful teen movies from the 80s.

    1. Word! Had to push eject on the screener after 25 minutes. Wallflower might have been okay if Buck Henry and Cameron Crowe had never been born, and even then, only if you’d never seen Garden State.

      After, I popped in Flight and watched the whole damn thing. Not proud. But there you have it.

  12. I thought ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ was better than all of the other original screenplay nominees. Clever, good character arcs.

  13. I’ve read all the original screenplay scripts, and something about “flight” — regardless of whether you liked the film — soars on the page. Reading it was so enjoyable, including that incredible stairwell scene that I just can’t get out of my head. That’s what great writing is about.

    Meanwhile, I can’t really say that a scene from “Zero Dark” or “Lincoln” struck me as memorable.

    In terms of adapted screenplay, “Silver Linings” was a remarkable adaptation of material that could have quickly gone south in the wrong screenwriter’s hand. A yeoman’s effort from a very good book. Just my two Abe Lincolns.

    1. “Flight” made me want to go on a three-day bender to eradicate the memory of it from my brain.

  14. I too have read the scripts and flight and silver linings stood out. and i agree on the stairwell scene. Great writing.

  15. Origami Rose… why so much hate for “Flight”? If you were to read the six page “stairwell scene” with its ruminations on cancer and death you will see some exquisite craftsmanship. Admittedly, the rest of the film may not hold up as a paragon of writing, but that scene alone, when coupled with the twenty-five pages of the plane in distress, were some terrific scribe work. Maybe you will diss Gatins screenplay, but can you at least offer up an example of writing that bested the aforementioned scenes (ie, stairwell, plane crash sequence) from “Flight”? Methinks you’d be hard-pressed to do so. I concur that “Flight” — good as I believe it to be — will likely benefit from a weakened field. Still, I feel it beats “Juno”, an actual academy award winner in spite of Diablo Cody’s words splattered, like a doodle that can’t be undid, upon the page.

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