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WGA Preview

The WGA (Saturday night) is going to differ from the Oscars this year, in all likelihood, because of the simple fact that many of the films up for the screenplay award were not eligible for the WGA. This is probably more applicable to original screenplay than adapted since Up in the Air is dominating in the adapted category across the board.

The last few years since Oscar had its date change there really hasn’t been time for reflection on any of the categories, but most especially screenplay. You’ll note from the charts below that the Oscars have matched up with the WGA for wins 100% in the last five years. The last really odd thing to ever happen to disrupt this process was American Splendor, which seemed to throw a major wrench in the Oscar works. Prior to that year, 2003, the WGA and Oscar match-ups were it and miss.

There are two ways this race can go. The first is that we will see nothing but upsets at the Oscars on March 7th. We might see totally different screenplay winners, for instance, than we’ve been seeing. The reason for this is that it isn’t down to five Best Pictures any more. There are ten now. And even though there are still only five director slots, there are still those extra five titles dangling out there. All of them, except Avatar and The Blind Side, have a screenplay nomination. That opens things up a bit more in terms of what films might win for Screenplay, especially since they are usually the consolation prize for the movie not winning Best Picture.

In an ordinary year you might look at a screenplay nod for A Serious Man and think, well, it didn’t make the Big Five so it can’t win the WGA or the Oscar for screenplay. That would be a good guess in any year prior to this one. Now you look at A Serious Man and you think, well, it did get a Best Picture nod. That ups its chances considerably.

Still, we don’t have any other year to compare with this one so we have to just go on what we know so far. Generally speaking, except for Bowling for Columbine, the screenplay winners for the WGA are usually the ones that are also nominated for the Oscar. That is almost always true about the guilds in general, especially the major guilds.

Since Inglourious Basterds, In the Loop, District 9, The Messenger, Up, and An Education were all ineligible for the WGA, things are bumped off the rails even more. It could mean that, for the first time in five years, there will be a mis-match in Original Screenplay.

If you believe that the Oscars are a three-film race between Avatar, The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds, you are probably going to predict that Quentin Tarantino wins for screenplay. At this point, I don’t see how he can lose. Working in The Hurt Locker’s favor is its strength so far with the major guilds, which will be strengthened by a WGA win. That doesn’t mean it will then go on to win the Oscar, but it gives it a leg up where it didn’t have one before.¬† When Memento was all of the talk about town and it wasn’t eligible for the WGAs, it never recovered to then win the Oscar, even though everyone believed it should have. It lost to a Best Picture nominee, Gosford Park. But Inglourious Basterds is not Memento.¬† Basterds is a robust Best Picture contender that just the won the SAG ensemble. Again, I don’t see how it can lose.

Two things working against Tarantino – the first is that he’s already won in the screenplay category. The Academy likes to spread the wealth around. It does happen that writers win twice for the same category but it is rare, especially when their film isn’t going to win Best Picture. The second reason is that Inglourious Basterds is a revenge fantasy story. There are going to be a lot of older Academy members, who may or may not be Jewish, who just might not relate to this story. The Hurt Locker is “about something.” In fact, it is probably the only original screenplay that has a much broader social theme than the other four, except perhaps The Messenger. The Hurt Locker is a more serious movie than Basterds. It feels like the more “grown-up” story. And finally, the Hurt Locker’s Oscar win might be a consolation prize for Avatar winning Best Picture.

We’ll have to wait and see how the WGAs turn out but for now, I’m going with The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air for the WGAs and Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air for the Oscar. I might change my mind later.

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
-Austin Film Critics
-Critics Choice
-Central Ohio Film Critics
-Kansas City Film Critics
-Online Film Critics
-San Diego Film Critics
-San Francisco Film Critics
-Toronto Film Critics
-Washington DC Area Film Critics

Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
-Boston Film Critics
-National Board of Review
-National Society of Film Critics

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
-Chicago Film Critics
-Nantucket Film Festival

Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Up
-Phoenix Film Critcs

Oren Moverman, Alessandro Camo The Messenger
-Berlin Film Festival

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Here is the Reitman/Turner collection so far:
-Austin Film Critics
-Chicago Film Critics
-Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics
-Phoenix Film Society
-Kansas City Film Critics
-Los Angeles Film Critics
-National Board of the Review
-Southeastern Film Critics
-Toronto Film Critics
-Washington, DC Film Critics
-Broadcast Film Critics (Critics Choice)
-Golden Globe
-USC Scripter

Armando Iannucci, In the Loop
-British Independent Film Awards
-New York Film Critics

Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell, District 9
Nick Hornby, An Education

won WGA | won Oscar


Original WGA Oscars
The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man A Serious Man
500 Days of Summer Up
The Hangover The Messenger
Avatar Inglourious Basterds
Adapted WGA Oscars
Up in the Air Up in the Air
Crazy Heart In the Loop
Star Trek District 9
Precious Precious
Julie & Julia An Education
Original WGA Oscars
Milk Milk*
Burn After Reading Frozen River
The Visitor Happy-Go-Lucky
The Wrestler In Bruges
Vicky Cristina Barcelona Wall-E
Adapted WGA Oscars
Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire+
Doubt Doubt
Frost/Nixon Frost/Nixon*
Benjamin Button Benjamin Button*
The Dark Knight The Reader
Original WGA Oscars
Diablo Cody, Juno* Diablo Cody, Juno*
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton*
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl
Judd Apatow, Knocked Up Brad Bird, Ratatouille
Adapted WGA Oscars
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood*
Joel, Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men Joel, Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men+
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sean Penn, Into the Wild Sarah Polley, Away from Her
James Vanderbilt, Zodiac Christopher Hampton Atonement*
Original WGA Oscars
Babel Babel*
The Queen The Queen *
Stranger than Fiction Letters from Iwo Jima*
Little Miss Sunshine Little Miss Sunshine *
United 93 Pan’s Labyrinth
Adapted WGA Oscars
The Departed The Departed+
Thank You for Smoking Notes on a Scandal
Little Children Little Children
Borat Borat
Devil Wears Prada Children of Men
Original WGA Oscars
40 Year Old Virgin Syriana
Crash+ Crash+
Cinderella Man Match Point
Good Night, and Good Luck Good Night *
Squid and the Whale Squid and the Whale
Adapted WGA Oscars
Brokeback Mountain Brokeback Mountain*
Capote Capote*
Constant Gardener Constant Gardener
History of Violence History of Violence
Syriana Munich*
Original WGA Oscars
The Aviator The Aviator*
Eternal Sunshine Eternal Sunshine
Garden State Vera Drake
Hotel Rwanda Hotel Rwanda
Kinsey The Incredibles
Adapted WGA Oscars
Before Sunset Before Sunset
Mean Girls Finding Neverland*
Million Dollar Baby Million Dollar Baby+
Sideways Sideways*
Motorcycle Diaries Motorcycle Diaries
Original WGA Oscars
Bend it Like Beckham The Barbarian Invasions
Dirty Pretty Things Dirty Pretty Things
In America In America
Lost in Translation Lost in Translation*
The Station Agent Finding Nemo
Adapted WGA Oscars
American Splendor American Splendor
Cold Mountain City of God
Mystic River Mystic River *
Seabiscuit Seabiscuit*
Original WGA Oscars
Far From Heaven Far From Heaven
Gangs of New York Gangs of New York*
Antwone Fisher Talk to Her
My Big Fat Greek Wedding Greek Wedding
Bowling for Columbine Y Tu Mama Tambien
Chicago Chicago+
The Hours The Hours*
About Schmidt The Pianist*
Adaptation Adaptation
About a Boy About a Boy
Original WGA Oscars
Gosford Park* Gosford Park*
The Man Who Wasn’t There Amelie
Monster’s Ball Monster’s Ball
Moulin Rouge Memento
The Royal Tenenbaums The Royal Tenenbaums
Adapted WGA Oscars
A Beautiful Mind A Beautiful Mind+
Black Hawk Down Shrek
Bridget Jones’s Diary In the Bedroom*
Ghost World Ghost World
The Fellowship of the Ring Fellowship of the Ring*
Original WGA Oscars
Erin Brockovich Erin Brockovich*
Almost Famous Almost Famous
Best In Show Gladiator+
Billy Elliot Billy Elliot
You Can Count On Me You Can Count On Me
Adapted WGA Oscars
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
Chocolat Chocolat*
High Fidelity O Brother Where Art Thou?
Traffic Traffic*
Wonder Boys Wonder Boys
Original WGA Oscars
American Beauty American Beauty+
Being John Malkovich Being John Malkovich
Magnolia Magnolia
The Sixth Sense The Sixth Sense*
Three Kings Topsy-Turvy
Adapted WGA Oscars
The Cider House Rules The Cider House Rules*
Election Election
The Insider The Insider*
October Sky The Green Mile*
The Talented Mr. Ripley The Talented Mr. Ripley
Original WGA Oscars
Bulworth Bulworth
The Opposite of Sex Life Is Beautiful *
Shakespeare In Love* Shakespeare In Love+
Saving Private Ryan Saving Private Ryan*
The Truman Show The Truman Show
Adapted WGA Oscars
Gods and Monsters Gods and Monsters
A Civil Action The Thin Red Line*
Primary Colors Primary Colors
A Simple Plan A Simple Plan
Out Of Sight* Out Of Sight


+Won Best Picture

*nominated for Best Pic


2008: Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire+
Milk Milk*
2007: No Country for Old Men No Country for Old Men+
Juno Juno*
2006: The Departed The Departed+
Little Miss Sunshine Little Miss Sunshine*
2005:Brokeback Mountain Brokeback Mountain*
Crash Crash+
2004: Eternal Sunshine Eternal Sunshine
Sideways Sideways*
2003: Lost in Translation Lost in Translation*
American Splendor Return of the King+
2002: The Hours* The Pianist*
Bowling for Columbine Talk to Her
2001: A Beautiful Mind A Beautiful Mind+
Gosford Park Gosford Park*
2000: Traffic Traffic*
You Can Count on Me Almost Famous
1999: American Beauty American Beauty+
Election The Cider House Rules*
1998:Shakespeare in Love Shakespeare in Love+
Out of Sight Gods and Monsters
1997: L.A. Confidential L.A. Confidential*
As Good as it Gets Good Will Hunting*
1996: Sling Blade Sling Blade
Fargo Fargo*
1995: Braveheart The Usual Suspects
Sense and Sensibility Sense and Sensibility*
1994: Forrest Gump Forrest Gump+
Four Weddings/Funeral Pulp Fiction*
1993: Schindler’s List Schindler’s List+
The Piano The Piano*
1992: The Crying Game The Crying Game *
The Player Howards End*
1991: The Silence of the Lambs The Silence of the Lambs+
Thelma and Louise Thelma and Louise
1990: Dances with Wolves Dances with Wolves+
Avalon Ghost*
1989: Driving Miss Daisy Driving Miss Daisy+
Crimes and Misdemeanors Dead Poets Society*
1988: Dangerous Liaisons Dangerous Liaisons*
Bull Durham Rain Man+
1987: Roxanne The Last Emperor+
Moonstruck Moonstruck*
1986: A Room with a View A Room with a View*
Hannah and Her Sisters Hannah and her Sisters*
1985: Witness Witness*
Prizzi’s Honor Out of Africa+
1984: The Killing Fields Amadeus+
Broadway Danny Rose Places in the Heart*
1983: Tender Mercies Tender Mercies*
Reuben, Reuben Terms of Endearment+
1982: Missing Missing*
Tootsie Gandhi+
1981: Reds Chariots of Fire+
On Golden Pond On Golden Pond *
Rich and Famous
1980:Ordinary People Ordinary People+
Airplane, Private Benjamin
Melvin and Howard Melvin and Howard
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer Kramer Vs. Kramer+
Breaking Away Breaking Away*
The China Syndrome, Being There
1978: Midnight Express Midnight Express*
Coming Home Coming Home*
Heaven Can Wait
Movie, Movie
1977: Annie Hall Annie Hall+
Julia Julia*
The Turning Point, Oh, God
1976: All the President’s Men All The President’s Men*
Network Network*
Pink Panther Strikes Again
1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest+
Dog Day Afternoon Dog Day Afternoon*
The Sunshine Boys
1974: Godfather Part II Godfather Part II+
Chinatown Chinatown*
Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Blazing Saddles
1973: A Touch of Class The Exorcist*
Save the Tiger, Paper Moon The Sting+
1972: The Godfather The Godfather+
The Candidate The Candidate
What’s Up, Doc? Cabaret
1971: The French Connection The French Connection+
The Hospital The Hospital
Kotch; Sunday, Bloody, Sunday
1970: Patton Patton+
M*A*S*H M*A*S*H*
I Never Sang for My Father, The Out-of Towners
1969: Midnight Cowboy Midnight Cowboy+
Butch Cassidy Butch Cassidy/Sundance Kid *
Goodbye, Columbus; Bob, Ted, Carol and Alice
1968:Lion in Winter The Lion in Winter*
The Producers The Producers
Funny Girl, Odd Couple
1967: The Graduate In the Heat of the Night+
Bonnie and Clyde Guess Who’s Coming… *
Thoroughly Modern Millie
1966: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? A Man for All Seasons+
The Russians are Coming A Man and a Woman
1965: A Thousand Clowns Dr. Zhivago*
The Sound of Music, The Pawnbroker Darling*
1964: Becket Becket
Dr. Strangelove, Mary Poppins Father Goose
1963: Hud Tom Jones+
Lillies of the Field How the West Was Won
1962: The Kill a Mockingbird To Kill a Mockingbird *
That Touch of Mink, Music Man Divorce Italian Style
1961: the Hustler Judgment at Nuremberg
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, West Side Story Splendor in the Grass
1960: The Apartment The Apartment+
Elmer Gantry Elmer Gantry
The Bells are Ringing
1959: The Diary of Anne Frank Room at the Top *
Some Like it Hot, Five Pennies Pillow Talk
1958: Gigi Gigi+
The Defiant Ones The Defiant Ones
Me and the Colonel
1957: 12 Angry Men Bridge on the River Kwai+
Love in the Afternoon Designing Women
Les Girls
1956: Around world/80 Days Around world/80 Days+
The King and I The red Balloon
Friendly Persuasion
1955: Marty Marty+
Mr. Roberts Interrupted Melody
Love Me/Leave Me
1954: On the Waterfront On the Waterfront+
Sabrina, Seven Brides/Seven Bros. The Country Girl
1953: From Here to Eternity From Here to Eternity+
Lili, Roman Holiday Titanic
1952: High Noon, The Quiet Man Lavender Hill Mob
Singing in the Rain Bad and Beautiful
1951: An American in Paris An American in Paris+
A Place in the Sun A Place in the Sun*
Father’s Little Dividend
1950: All About Eve All About Eve+
Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard *
Broken Arrow, Annie Get Your Gun
1949: All the King’s Men All the King’s Men+
A Letter to Three Wives, on the Town Battleground*
1958: The Snake Pit Treasure of the Sierra Madre*
Sitting Pretty, Easter Parade