It continues to be a good week for American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Her, Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska. All followed up yesterday’s Producers Guild nominations with WGA noms this morning, making it 2-for-2 in the early guild contests of this new year. The WGA also gave a much-needed shot of adrenaline to August: Osage County, which was bypassed by the PGA but had three SAG nominations earlier and now an adapted screenplay bid for Tracy Letts that keeps it alive. But the news continues to be bad for the Coen brothers, who are usually awards darlings.
After being snubbed by SAG and yesterday’s PGA announcement, the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis also was bypassed by the WGA, even though it was eligible to be nominated for Original Screenplay. That’s the biggest surprise of the day. (Read the full list of WGA Awards nominees below.) Writers have loved their work in the past. Since the guilds often closely parallel Oscar nominations and have many of the same members, it does not bode well for the chances of the CBS Films release, which started the season by winning the Grand Prize (2nd) at Cannes but has not gotten much traction since. One source close to the film’s campaign told me this morning they think Inside Llewyn Davis will fare better under the more specialized Academy preferential voting system as opposed to the popularity contests of the guilds. Passionate fans of the film will have a better chance to be heard by giving it first-place votes.
Among other films eligible under WGA rules but omitted from the list: Nicole Holofcener’s most acclaimed film to date, Enough Said, was overlooked for Original Screenplay — a surprise given that the WGA nominated her previous film, Please Give, in 2010. Danny Strong’s ambitious script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler also missed the cut as it the film itself did at PGA and the Golden Globes. It is nominated for three SAG awards. And Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron’s original script for one of Oscar’s front-runners, Gravity, failed to impress the writers, who perhaps saw it as more of a technical achievement. Warner Bros has been trying to change that perception and has widely circulated the intricate and complex script but to no avail, at least as far as the WGA is concerned.
Although they offered a strong list of contenders this morning, the Writers Guild Of America’s nominations have to be kept in check since the guild only includes those screenplays that were produced under their signatory agreements. That generally means many independent films, foreign productions and others are not even considered. Among the victims of the policy this year are Fox Searchlight’s awards juggernaut 12 Years A Slave. The John Ridley screenplay adapted from Solomon Northup’s book fell victim to the guild’s guidelines but almost certainly will be Oscar-nominated, even possibly a front-runner. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope’s adapted script for Philomena also should figure strongly in the Oscar race, though ineligible here. And Ryan Coogler’s acclaimed original screenplay for Fruitvale Station, also WGA-ineligible, will continue to have a shot at Oscar. Several other original indie scripts — notably Destin Cretton’s Short Term 12 (which has an Academy connection as it won its homegrown Nicholl Fellowship Award) and Cannes Palme d’Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color, also not allowed to compete at WGA — might have a better chance on when Oscar nominations are announced January 16, though competition for a slot as Original Screenplay is particularly fierce.
Here’s the full list of WGA Awards nominations:
American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Columbia Pictures
Blue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
Dallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Focus Features
Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.
Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson; Paramount Pictures
August: Osage County, Screenplay by Tracy Letts; Based on his play; The Weinstein Company
Before Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan; Sony Classics
Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures
Lone Survivor, Written by Peter Berg; Based on the book by Marcus Lutrell with Patrick Robinson; Universal Pictures
The Wolf of Wall Street, Screenplay by Terence Winter; Based on the book by Jordan Belfort; Paramount Pictures
Dirty Wars, Written by Jeremy Scahill & David Riker; Sundance Selects
Herblock – The Black & The White, Written by Sara Lukinson & Michael Stevens; The Stevens Company
No Place on Earth, Written by Janet Tobias & Paul Laikin; Magnolia Pictures
Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks; Written by Alex Gibney; Focus Features