Don't Believe the Best-Screenplay Buzz

Esther Zuckerman
4 January 2013
Don't Believe the Best-Screenplay Buzz

The Writers Guild of America announced its nominees for best original and adapted screenplay on Friday, but let's not get too far down the rabbit hole on these little awards as a predictor for next week's Oscar nods. A number of films — most notably Django Unchained and Les Misérables — weren't so much snubbed as they never had a chance: the WGA can rule films ineligible if their authors are not members of the Guild or if they're not produced under Guild requirements.

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The nominees for original screenplay were FlightLooperThe MasterMoonrise Kingdom, and Zero Dark Thirty, while ArgoLife of PiLincolnThe Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Silver Linings Playbook got nods in the adapted category. 

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This year's big exclusions, according to HitFix and Deadline, include, on the original side, Django Unchained and Amour. On the adapted side, Anna Karenina, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Les Misérables were not going to get any love from the guild. Quentin Tarantino, for example, has never been a member of the WGA, and remains a favorite for a best original screenplay Oscar nomination. And while Tom Stoppard is a big name missing for his Anna Karenina adaptation, things are complex in these awards, Deadline explains: "The WGA requires that scripts be produced under Guild jurisdiction or under a collective bargaining agreement in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or the U.K. and that the scripts be formally submitted for consideration."  

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As Guy Lodge wrote in HitFix, nominations from the guilds can often be good Oscar predictors, but these simply aren't: "With such different pools to choose from, it's no surprise that in the last decade, only 27 of the Guild's 50 Best Original Screenplay nominees have also nabbed an Oscar nod; that figure rises to 35 in the adapted race, but it's still a low strike rate compared to other Guild awards." 

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Though a number of the Writers Guild picks aren't totally surprising. Zero Dark Thirty, The Master,  LooperLincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Argo have all won honors for their screenplays this season

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