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Writers Guild Nominees and Their Oscar Competition

The Writers Guild of America nominations are always interesting to look at -- we love discovering what other writers admire --  but they are greatly overvalued in terms of Oscar prognostication. The tricky part is remembering what's not eligible. The Academy doesn't require you to be a member to receive nominations for your cinematic achievement. Some guilds do and the Writers Guild is notoriously strict about qualification. So several key Oscar-seeking movies were NOT eligible for these honors.

Bridesmaids won a WGA nomination but the Oscar shortlist is far more competitive.

Not Eligible, Therefore We Know Nothing About Their Oscar Prospects: 
(Original) Take Shelter, Martha Martha Marcy May Marlene, Beginners, The Artist, Shame, Margin Call, The Iron Lady, Rango, Melancholia, and Like Crazy
(Adapted) Drive, My Week With Marilyn, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Jane Eyre, Carnage, Albert Nobbs, and The Skin I Live In

 ... and quite a few of those -- especially the originals -- seem like definite threats in the Oscar Screenplay races

The WGA Nominations (Three Categories) are  AFTER THE JUMP


  • 50/50 - Will Reiser
  • Bridesmaids - Annie Mumulo and Kristen Wiig
  • Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen
  • Win Win - Thomas McCarthy
  • Young Adult - Diablo Cody

Eligible but not nominated: Tree of Life
What Does it Mean? Good news for all of these nominees surely but with so many major Oscar contenders left on the ineligibility list it's still a super tight race for Oscar's short list.  Give the industry love for Bridesmaids, and that writers are less averse to comedy achievements than other branches, you'd think it was a strong contender but I'm guessing that the improv heavy nature of the film -- amply evident in the DVD extras -- might give some writers pause about honoring it with an Oscar nomination, as funny as it is.



  • The Descendants -Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -Steven Zaillian; Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson
  • The Help -Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett
  • Hugo -John Logan; Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
  • Moneyball - Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin; Based on the book by Michael Lewis

Eligible but not nominated: Extremely Loud, The Ides of March, War Horse
What Does it Mean for Oscar? That's very bad news for the eligible snubbees since most major contenders were eligible. That's very good news for Dragon Tattoo which might be more of a threat than we thought. The others are very expected choices. This list could theoretically repeat with Oscar, since most of the major exclusions in terms of eligibility are in the Original Screenplay race. But I still think Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a major threat here.


For some reason there are six nominees in this category this year.  

  • Better This World -Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega
  • If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front -Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek
  • Nostalgia for the Light -Patricio Guzmán
  • Pina -Wim Wenders
  • Position Among the Stars -Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich, Leonard Retel Helmrich
  • Senna - Manish Pandey

Pina, a very enjoyable dance documentary, is the oddest choice here. It mostly consists of performances and interludes where dancers talk about what they learned working with Pina Bausch. Senna continues to do well in awards season despite the Oscar shut out.

Related: Oscar Screenplay Predictions

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Reader Comments (18)

It would be interesting if "Tree of Life" -- which has missed out on the Big 3 guilds so far -- ends up with a Best Picture nod instead of "Bridesmaids," which has gone 3/3 so far. I hope Malick gets a DGA nomination.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthonyDC

I am hoping Martha Marcy May Marlene will make a play at the Oscars.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternic

Yay Bridesmaids, 50/50, and Young Adult!!!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Yay for 50/50 and I'm also hoping for Martha Marcy to make it at the Oscars.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbia

I'm not really feeling the If a Tree Falls nod in documentary, either, but I'm guessing a couple of these (hopefully Nostalgia and Senna) were way out in front, and the six-wide field reflects a logjam of movies that split a lot of votes pretty evenly behind them.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

So who is gonna win original at the WGA? Woody?

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike F

ADAPTED: in terms of Oscar, I think IDES OF MARCH will boot out DRAGON TATTOO.

ORIGINAL: I still think the Plummer buzz plus the deeply personal nature of Mill's script will keep BEGINNERS from falling out.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyanSt

I have to say, these are both excellent lists and if these do end up being the Oscar nominees as well, I won't be TOO disappointed. Although I'm a little bit surprised that The Help got in. Does anyone really think that was a great feat of screenwriting?

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Oh and also, it's always funny to me when people claim The Tree of Life's prospects to be dead after every guild award for which it isn't nominated. The HFPA, the Producers and the Writers were NEVER going to go for Tree of Life. If Malick gets shut out of DGA, though... I shudder to think.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I don't know about Martha Marcy May Marlene's writing prospects...but it needs to make it for editing. I, like Martha, had trouble figuring out what was past and what was present because of the editing. LOVED IT.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon

So happy for 50/50 and Young Adult, both of which I hope go on to score Oscar nods!!!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee

As happy as I am that Young Adult got in here, my sense is that there's not enough overall support for it to carry over into an Oscar nomination. I hope I'm wrong, but it just seems to be too much of a divisive film to win the kind of support it needs going in. I actually think A Separation has a decent shot here, if the buzz increases over the next few weeks.

As for the Adapted Screenplay category, I think this will be a 4/5 match with Oscar, with Girl with the Dragon Tattoo being booted in favor of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn-Paul

Also, Nathaniel, I'm not sure the improvisational nature of Bridesmaids will affect its chances of a screenplay nomination. It certainly hasn't prevented Mike Leigh from being nominated 5 times in this category. I think they judge much more by the product as it appears on screen than they do as it was written (and really, who could blame them, unless they're expected to read each screenplay and compare them to the filmed versions?).

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn-Paul

John-Paul: I'm baffled by the Academy's approach to Mike Leigh's process. He should have four special awards for improv and one original screenplay nom (Secrets & Lies) at this point. Also: most things that are heavily improvised are on record as such. They don't actually need to read the screenplay, they just need to track down a news article or film review.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'm not sure Bridesmaids will be affected by it's improvisational nature - Borat was nominated, wasn't it?

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

Philip, Volvagia, John-Paul -- i only bring it up because with something like Mike Leigh films the screenplay is created through rehearsal with the actors but it's an actual screenplay. With Bridesmaids if you actually watch the outtakes it seems like what they had -- at most -- was a loose scenario for every scene and then they just winged it.

that's probably a gross oversimplification but i was shocked at how the scenes lead you to believe that they could just go off and do whatever the hell they wanted ;)

January 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

No, I get what you're saying completely haha. I just figured if Borat was nominated, the same thing happened. Unless it worked that way too, where the script was created off of what was said. That's interested, I didn't know that was a method haha.

I still hope it gets nominated. :D

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

@John Paul- Yeah, I totally know what you mean in regards to YA but I think it will have enough support within the writing community for it to be nominated. I would hope the Academy would be up for nominating at the very least the screenplay of one of the most challenging and ballsy films of the years if they're going to inevitably not nominate the picture, director, supporting actor, and (fingers crossed that this doesn't happy) the leading lady.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee
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