Friday, January 3, 2014

Writers Guild nominations

Hot on the heals of yesterday's PGA announcement, the WGA has chimed in with their selections for the year's best screenplays... at least those that were eligible. It rankles every year that a number of the most highly touted films of the year are not qualified for the guild's honour, and this year's list of ineligibilities include likely Oscar nominees 12 Years a Slave and Philomena, among others.

Full list of nominees (and comments) after the cut.

Original Screenplay
American Hustle by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen
Dallas Buyers Club by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
Her by Spike Jonze
Nebraska by Bob Nelson

The biggest surprise is the film which wasn't nominated despite being eligible: The Coen brothers' brilliant Inside Llewyn Davis. After missing with SAG and PGA beforehand, and now with the writers who I'd have thought would surely chalk it up, the film is on thin ice for its Best Picture prospects.

In lieu of Llewyn (alongside presumed Oscar frontrunners American Hustle, Her, Nebraska, and Blue Jasmine) is Dallas Buyers Club, which has now scored with all three major guilds that have so far announced. Although a nod from the DGA next week seems unlikely, this trifecta of industry citations bodes well for a Best Picture nomination.

Adapted Screenplay
August: Osage County by Tracy Letts
Before Midnight by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips by Billy Ray
Lone Survivor by Peter Berg
The Wolf of Wall Street by Terence Winter

Over in the Adapted field, which is already thin enough without the disqualifications of Slave and Philomena, the only left field nominee is Peter Berg's Lone Survivor. More likely a product of limited choices than of passionate support for the film, I wouldn't expect to translate to an Oscar nod. The question is: which of the six presumed contenders will fall off the Academy's lineup? I imagine that 12 Years a Slave and Captain Phillips, the only sure-thing Best Picture nominees of the bunch, are safe, along with Before Midnight (because... how do you NOT nominate that for writing?). But any permutation of the other three -- August: Osage County, The Wolf of Wall Street, Philomena -- feels plausible.

Documentary Screenplay
Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill & David Riker
Herblock – The Black & The White by Sara Lukinson & Michael Stevens
No Place on Earth by Janet Tobias & Paul Laikin
Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley
We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks by Alex Gibney

As for the docs, only two of the WGA's picks are on the Oscar shortlist: Dirty Wars and Stories We Tell. I'm expecting the latter to win with this guild, as Polley's ingenious and labyrinthine structure truly stands out as a singular feat.

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