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WGA Preview

4,500 PGA members, 100,000 SAG members and 14,500 DGA members went ass over elbow for Argo.  It hardly seems likely that the WGA will do any differently. Funny how uniform this has all become. It didn’t used to be that way. But a consensus vote is a consensus vote and the voters have decided that Argo is the best picture of 2012.  It is no doubt a bittersweet success because no one will know for sure whether it was the movie or the perceived snub. But perhaps being able to look at those awards every year for the rest of his life will soothe the pain a bit.

Here is what we do know about the nominees.

*–Oscar nominated

Adapted Screenplay
* Tony Kushner, Lincoln: 
New York Film Critics, National Society of Film Critics, Boston Society of Film Critics, Broadcast Film Critics, Central Ohio Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics, San Francisco Film Critics
* Chris Terrio, Argo: Los Angeles Film Critics, Austin Film Critics, Florida Film Critics, Kansas City Film Critics, San Diego Film Critics, Southeastern Film Critics, Scripter

* David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook: National Board of Review, BAFTA, Washington DC Film Critics
* David Magee, Life of Pi
  Stephen Chbosky, Perks of Being a Wallflower

Lincoln is ahead in terms of prestigious critics awards. But who cares about that right?  Argo has pulled ahead with the Scripter in the general consensus and will be the winner this weekend when the Writers Guild holds its awards.  Lincoln is already the recipient of the Paul Selvin award, which was actually given to Lincoln before final voting for the WGA had closed, so it isn’t a consolation prize. Therefore it’s possible the WGA will and could still go Lincoln’s way but it’s probably Argo.   The industry has spoken and Oscar will likely follow suit.  We wish Chris Terrio well.  After all, Ben Affleck “stuck to the script” on Argo so if anyone should get credit for its success, well, shouldn’t Terrio?

Original Screenplay
Rian Johnson, Looper –
Austin Film Critics, Florida Film Critics, Las Vegas Film Critics, National Board of Review, Washington DC Film Critics
*Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty: Chicago Film Critics, San Francisco Film Critics, Vancouver Film Critics
*Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom, Online Film Critics, Phoenix Film Critics, Southeastern Film Critics
*John Gatins, Flight
  Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
 
Funnily enough, the film with the most critics awards is Looper but it isn’t nominated for the Oscar so the chances of it winning here are slim. Voters are like sheep, as we’re learning this year, and thus, if it ain’t Oscar nominated it ain’t winning. I think I’ve seen a non-Oscar nominee win once or twice at the WGA but it’s rare. So you’re really down to Zero Dark Thirty — shamed and brutalized by the press, Moonrise Kingdom and Flight.  You will see just effective the Zero Dark Thirty take-down was if Mark Boal doesn’t take this.  Either way, the winner still has to beat back Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained and Michael Haneke for Amour at the Oscars.

I’m not even going to speculate if Tony Kushner wins the WGA — he won’t. Argo will win.  That’s the consensus winner and it will collect all of the trophies this year.  The “Anything but Lincoln” campaign worked like gangbusters.  Note to self: punch self in face.

 

 

 

55 Comments on this Post

  1. Boal won’t win because of the backlash but simply because MOONRISE KNGDOM’S screenplay is far better. You may think otherwise – but you’re wrong. :)

  2. Imagine Tony Kushner won. Imagine Mark Boal won.

    Excuse me for a moment, a pig just flew into my window, brb.

  3. Wait, Kushner is getting a special award? You’re kidding. Now he definitely won’t win, and (theoretically) we’ll never know if he could have if not for this award. Or maybe they already saw the writing on the wall with Lincoln vs. Argo (vs. SLP). Either way, it’s frustrating, and we need this to be Lincoln’s ace in the hole.

    If anything but Argo wins here, I am so not predicting Argo for Best Picture. If SLP wins, I will probably predict Lincoln.

    ZDT is probably not winning the Oscar anyways, but if it loses the WGA, the Oscar is definitely down to Amour and Django. Amour could end up being the big winner on Oscar night (minus Picture), and how odd that would be.

  4. Moonrise Kingdom and The Master for Best Original Screenplay please! I “liked” Zero Dark Thirty in a limit but felt there was lacking in backstory and narrative with a slight pro-war liberal bias.

  5. So true, MOONRISE KINGDOM or THE MASTER SHOULD win but I don’t believe in THE MASTER winning – so I’m rooting for MOONRISE KINGDOM.
    And Terrio deserves more than Kushner – it’s obvious, but the best adapted screenplay nominated this year is SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (yeah, BAFTA got it right). If anyone thinks otherwise – he knows nothing about the art of cinema.

  6. I love being wrong (and flying pigs). Kushner and Boal.

  7. @Zack

    Yeah, Kusher is getting a special award for bringng “an important historical subject to the screen” or something like that.

  8. lacking in backstory and narrative with a slight pro-war liberal bias

    You can make up names but making up backstories in such a politically pertinent film would be responsible.

    Lacking in narrative? Zero Dark Thirty is narrative.

    I suppose I can sort of grasp the concept of ‘pro-war liberal bias’, although I remain unaware of how ZDT is liberal to begin with. I guess not everyone can help reading into material that was only meant to be taken at face value.

  9. “If anyone thinks otherwise – he knows nothing about the art of cinema.”

    Second throwdown on the same post. Somebody (or should I say, someone) found a hair in their Cheerios.

  10. the best adapted screenplay nominated this year is SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (yeah, BAFTA got it right). If anyone thinks otherwise – he knows nothing about the art of cinema.

    If Silver Linings Playbook has jackshit to to do with the art of cinema, then the art of cinema can fucking rim me clean.

  11. Sasha,

    Tony Kushner also won the New York Film Critics.

  12. Robert A.

    “And Terrio deserves more than Kushner – it’s obvious, but the best adapted screenplay nominated this year is SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (yeah, BAFTA got it right). If anyone thinks otherwise – he knows nothing about the art of cinema.”

    *Robert A. enrolls in Art of Cinema 101*

  13. @Someone

    LOL, the book for SLP could have been 10x worse than the film and I still wouldn’t be impressed with the adaptation. The writing is not much better than The Blind Side.

    It Happened One Night was on yesterday. It’s one of my all-time faves, a movie that I just love more with each subsequent viewing. I was thinking about how the standards for romantic comedies and lead women in particular have regressed in 80 years. Claudette Colbert knew how to stop a car, and she didn’t use her thumb! This was a woman who, though seen as a conventional object of desire, rejected being anyone’s “baby,” even as she secretly longed for Clark Gable. She knew how to use her sexuality to her advantage, but she was not without the brains to back it up.

    Tiffany just wants us to simultaneously feel sorry for her sluttiness and not judge her for it. Her one life skill is her dance ability, and even in dancing, Bradley Cooper/Pat was more impressive. She was just annoying, and raising her voice to De Niro did not make her a strong-willed character grounded in reality. She was just pathetic. More pathetic than a dying Emmanuelle Riva in Amour. And at least that character is supposed to be pathetic even as she tries to retain her dignity. Which is why I’m confident in switching my Actress prediction to Riva. I’ll go down with the ship.

    I understand SLP is really a mental-health drama masquerading as a rom-com, but it failed in both respects.

    The love for this film honestly feels like a manufactured conspiracy, as contrived as the script itself.

    Argo, I at least get why people “enjoyed” the most.

    I actually HOPE it’s Argo winning awards and not SLP, if it comes down to those two (except between Arkin and De Niro).

  14. Elton Almeida

    Deeply rooting for Moonrise Kingdom. I’m a huge fan of Wes Anderson, he’s a unique filmmaker – and one of my favorites contemporary american directors – and a very talented writer who always creates amazing characters.

  15. Pierre de Plume

    If anyone thinks otherwise – he knows nothing about the art of cinema.

    Ahhhh — the freedom of online anonymity….

    I’ve been thinking lately about the demographics of the (much larger) guilds and the demographics that constitute the audiences that represent Lincoln’s box office success. Next, I compare these demographics with those of the Academy membership. These comparatively much smaller branches made known their overall preferences by giving Lincoln a bunch of nominations. Despite the trends, despite the precursors of less prestigious film critics groups and awards-granting bodies — who, unlike the Academy, don’t have to justify their choices by awarding a film in a host of lesser categories — I think it’s reasonable to believe that Kushner’s screenplay could win the WGA and that, even if he doesn’t, he could still win the Oscar. If I were placing bets, of course, I’d go with Terrio and Argo.

    There are lots of superior screenplays that didn’t win Oscars.

    I don’t know who’ll win the WGA in the original screenplay category, but I hope it’s ZD30 because, imperfect though it may be, such an effort is a vital piece of writing. Oscarwise, I’m thinking Tarentino will win simply because his screenplay is more “wordy” than Amour and the voters seem to like words — plus, BAFTA voters have shown us that they’re not put off by the fact that so many of those words are the n word.

  16. “no one will know for sure whether it was the movie or the perceived snub”

    Except Roger Ebert and all the Academy members who actually genuinely voted for Argo as their favorite. Argo was the one that everyone LOVED, not just liked. All my Academy friends have been talking about it since October. The “snub” thing was a fluke and I honestly believe the race would have been no different if he were nominated. People were going to go for this movie anyways no matter what. Ebert was right all along.

    “The ‘Anything but Lincoln’ campaign worked like gangbusters”

    Don’t give Wells that much credit. Him and a few others are not responsible for Argo’s success or Lincoln’s failure. This is genuine love we’re seeing for a really good movie.

    Sasha, I would think you would like this narrative. After the last few years of Oscar outsourcing, our winner this year is a purebred Hollywood production. Ben Affleck is actually a really good director who has turned in nothing but quality work, and certainly Argo is better than many Best Picture winners. I understand you liked Lincoln better, but Argo is a fine winner, isn’t it?

  17. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    I’ve been thinking lately about the demographics of the (much larger) guilds and the demographics that constitute the audiences that represent Lincoln’s box office success. Next, I compare these demographics with those of the Academy membership.

    Me too. Then I think about the demographics of the US Congress. Then I think about the demographics of America at large. In every instance, among every group and subset of the population, there’s always a huge slice of the pie chart that scares me.

    The Greek myths had it right 3000 years ago. The Gods and Goddesses can be as petty and fallible as any mere mortal.

  18. Pierre de Plume

    Chris Price — if voters love Argo, and I’m not convinced that’s the best word to use, they love it like a chocolate-covered cherry.

  19. Couldn’t agree more Zach about SLP’s writing. Aside from contrived moments, I don’t think I’ve seen characters contradict themselves, but not in a complex way, but more in a bad writing way.

  20. The Greek myths had it right 3000 years ago. The Gods and Goddesses can be as petty and fallible as any mere mortal.

    Are you referring to members of Congress or members of the Academy? Because either way, I dispute this on the grounds that they’re none of them Gods nor Goddesses. More like Queens and Quacks.

  21. Amour will win original screenplay. Argo will win adapted screenplay

  22. The sad irony that the directors’ snub of Affleck will probably result in Kushner losing one of the most well-deserved Oscars of the year.

  23. Bob Burns

    why would anyone think any of these groups is selecting a “best” anything? seriously?

    they’re votin an puttin on shows.

  24. The J Viewer

    WGA Prediction:

    Adapted Screenplay: Terrio/ARGO (alt.: Kushner/LINCOLN)
    Original Screenplay: Boal/0DARK30 (alt.: Anderson & R. Coppola/MOONRISE KINGDOM)

    However, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are write-ins large enough in number to have voted for Argo in the Original Screenplay as well, thus resulting in Argo’s win in both categories.

    Lol… JK

  25. Bryce Forestieri

    SNUBBED by AMPAS’ writers ranch

    in Original Screenplay: THE MASTER, LOOPER

    in Adapted Screenplay: THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, CLOUD ATLAS

  26. Jason Travis

    I want to say that people are picking Argo because they like it more as a film, but then explain how it won the SAG Ensemble award, and the Director’s Guild. Voters knew Affleck wasn’t nominated and still picked him. Come on! And the fact that a good amount of the folks in the DGA are also Oscar voters- how do you snub him for the Academy Award but PICK him for the DGA? Very suspicious indeed.

  27. The “anything but Lincoln” campaign worked so well that even Spielberg winning a third Best Director trophy–even with no competition from Argo–almost seems far-fetched to me. If that happens, Oscar night is not just going to be “Poor Ben–shower the guy who was snubbed”….it will be “Poor Ben…..snubbed AND You Better Believe Anything But Lincoln” night.

  28. Though I’m not a member of the WGA, I do tend to believe that we writers are a little more discerning of what goes into the making of screenplays. I’m not sure about directors, who seem to be a mysterious tribe. But writers for the most part are quirky and of their own mindset. Back in 2003, when the two best scripts of the year were themselves oddities – Far from Heaven and Adaptation, and I felt so bad for the writers AND the WGA because these films could not be rewarded. I knew that adapted would go to The Hours, which was a good script, but Adaptation was quirky-ballsy-bizarro and it wuz rawbbed… somehow. And when Bowling from Columbine won best original, I knew Talk to Her would win the Oscar. Another good script, but I did find Todd Haynes loving homage to Douglas Sirk in steady awe. Disappointed, but what are you going to do? In any case, I do think that writers, if nothing else, are a tad more literate, and a tad more territorial about the 4 corners of the script. Do scriptwriters still have the reputation of not being all that powerful? I wonder, as writers start to explore other genres. but I guess what I really want to say is that I think writers respect when someone like Kushner can write a script that is talky and fiercely literate, AND still keep the action going. I’ve given up thinking it will rise above Argo in the best film category, mostly because the Academy tends to recognize great work in the wake rather than right at the crest. (Scorsese anyone?) Still, I think Tony K. has a good chance to pull it out, and that he really deserves it. The wrinkle of the special award IS a bother, however. I guess it does change things a bit, but how much I don’t know. As far as original script goes, I think it’s anyone’s ball game, though i am pulling for Moonrise Kingdom. fwiw.

  29. moviewatcher

    If there was any justice in this world, Kushner and PTA would both win.

    Alas, there is none…

  30. It would truly be a travesty if Argo takes this over Lincoln. I’ve said it before, but I wasn’t a huge fan of either Lincoln or Argo (though I thought they were both OK), but it seems very clear that Lincoln is the better film, and that it has the better screenplay. It’s not a perfect screenplay by any means, but in terms of the writing, it’s one of the easiest choices to make.

    As for Original Screenplay, I’m guessing it’ll be Zero Dark Thirty, what with its only real competition being deemed “ineligible.”

  31. Astarisborn

    If SLP wins this over Lincoln, I am going to commit myself to the care of others.

  32. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    back in 2003, when the two best scripts of the year were themselves oddities – Far from Heaven and Adaptation

    Great screenplays. I loved Far From Heaven, SOB. Todd Haynes: totally under appreciated.

  33. daveinprogress

    “the best adapted screenplay nominated this year is SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (yeah, BAFTA got it right). If anyone thinks otherwise – he knows nothing about the art of cinema.”

    Someone, if you are David O Russell please say so. (makes scornful, derisive face pull)

    The best lines in that movie, were the ones on Jacki Weaver’s face. (not to fellow countryman – sue the make up artist and hair stylist – ugh!)

  34. Pierre de Plume

    The best lines in that movie, were the ones on Jacki Weaver’s face.

    For sure. And if Weaver had been given more to do she’d be accepting her first Oscar on Feb. 24th.

  35. daveinprogress

    Way to go Mr Russell and team, in making the cute Jacki Weaver a monstrous creation on screen (with a constantly shifting accent). I love Jacki and incredibly of her success internationally, but this is not her finest moment.
    Maybe some better filmmakers will know how to use her considerable talent, and she can be a latter day Thelma Ritter replete with quick quips and charm.
    That would be a good use of La Weaver in a comedy.

  36. daveinprogress

    ‘Proud of her success internationally” (sorry, haste is no excuse)

  37. The sad irony that the directors’ snub of Affleck will probably result in Kushner losing one of the most well-deserved Oscars of the year.

    Or of recent years. By any objective measure “Lincoln” is the best written movie of the year. A deep-dive into history with complex characters and authentic meaningful dialog and tight structure.

    So of course it’s going to lose to, ” You think dealing with the Ayatollah is tough. Try the WGA.”
    They will eat that shit up with a spoon.

    Fuck. This. Shit.

  38. Didn’t The Master win Kansas for original screenplay?

  39. I’m starting to think Gordon-Levitt is a bit cursed. The Dark Knight Rises aside (and that was a fun jab) 500 Days of Summer, 50/50 and Looper all won accolades for writing, all showed up at WGA and Broadcast Critics (I believe) and were all snubbed for an Oscar.

  40. I think it’s just that Gordon-Levitt’s films tend to be “genre” films or films that appeal to a younger crowd. The Oscars, as we know, skews older and it shows in some of their nominations and snubs.

  41. PaulinJapan

    *There was never a “anything but Lincoln” campaign.

    *NB: Other than that orchestrated by Jeff Wells, but what influence does he have with the Academy?

  42. And yet JGL is in Lincoln, his first film with a Director nomination, but it still won’t win for directing or writing?

  43. I think the only movie that can stop Argo is Slumdog Millionaire..lols

  44. I pretty much meant the curse for the movies where he’s the lead, indie/smaller studio films.

  45. Terrio and Argo will be the great winners.

    For Original, I guess it’s between Moonrise Kingdom and The Master.

  46. @Kane,

    I know what you meant. I was just saying that it’s not really a curse. Just a matter of taste and the kind of movies Gordon-Levitt tends to be featured in.

    I mean he was in Lincoln (playing almost as big of a role as he did in Inception) and it’s the most nominated film of the year. Now, we all know its chances of winning have decreased with Argo sweeping the precursors, but…

    BTW, I was checking out the winners of the Scripter Awards and they don’t seem to align with Oscar much. Why is there so much stock being put on them?

  47. “BTW, I was checking out the winners of the Scripter Awards and they don’t seem to align with Oscar much. Why is there so much stock being put on them?”

    I noticed this a while back too. They only match 1/3 of the time, whereas the WGA matches about 2/3 of the time (at least for Adapted Screenplay), so why do people make such a big deal over the Scripter? I’m not considering the screenplay race over until I hear it from the WGA.

  48. @Fabinho- such an obvious Argo troll- there were other movies worthy besides this one you know.

  49. As I said earlier, even with the unexpected Argo-sweep, I honestly don’t see Tony Kushner losing the WGA. Just think about it, IF people wanted to recognize/console Affleck, then the BP/BD awards at the Critics Choice, Golden Globes and BAFTAs all make sense, because HE was nominated in those categories, so wins in those actually meant trophies FOR him. Same with the PGA, DGA and SAG Ensemble.

    BUT

    he wasn’t the screenwriter AND Terrio wasn’t snubbed by the Academy, therefore doesn’t have the kind of winning Oscar narrative Affleck does, which at least partially explains why Terrio hasn’t won anything big so far, and if you ask me, he won’t win now, either. Kushner HAS TO have the WGA in the bag, he is not only the most deserving nominee in my opinion, but as a widely acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, also the ‘prestige’ pick, one that might make voters feel good/classy/sophisticated about themselves if they pick him.

    Unfortunately I could still see Russell surprise, but unlike a notthebestbutstillworthy Terrio win, THAT would be an utter travesty in my opinion.

  50. danemychal

    Go Kushner!

  51. danemychal

    There are 3 exceptional choices in the Original Screenplay category: Boal and both Andersons. IMO, they can’t go wrong selecting one of those three.

  52. eclipse22

    cris price
    “Except Roger Ebert and all the Academy members who actually genuinely voted for Argo as their favorite. Argo was the one that everyone LOVED, not just liked. All my Academy friends have been talking about it since October. The “snub” thing was a fluke and I honestly believe the race would have been no different if he were nominated. People were going to go for this movie anyways no matter what”

    thank you for that, its nice to see another perspective about how this went down
    i’ve never believed the support post-snub narrative(my opinion), i think what happened was that probably argo was going to win best pic and affleck best director , the snub put a wrench into that plan ( and mind you it was just a plan and plans have a way of not always working out the way you wanted them too) plus you have to account for other films stake in the race and their supporters

    sasha i had never come across the expression “ass over elbow” so thank you for that contribution to my world vocabulary i’ll be sure to use it if ever the occasion rises,i wonder what the equivalent would be in french

    good luck on kushner winning the WGA , i mean it sincerely ! but i’ll be happy for ARGO too, anything but SLP lolllllll….

  53. Agreed Eclipse22, Argo was loved from many (including Sasha) from the start.

    I agree that lack of best director nom was an anomaly in this year’s race,

    Argo won BFCA before the Oscar nominations were announced.

    The whole “people are voting Argo because of the snub” narrative is sour grapes from supporters of its rivals

  54. @phantom, I like your thinking, except that Argo has been winning things even where Ben Affleck isn’t the technical winner, such as the Eddie (expected) and Scripter (disproves your point). Plus, if they really vote on name basis, then if anything can stop Argo, it’s probably SLP. BAFTA voted for SLP’s script when they didn’t have to, and I’m starting to think it unlikely that David O. Russell will go home empty-handed from here on out.

    @Hawkeye, I get the feeling that the Scripter was never that relevant or frustrating until this year when it hopped aboard the Argo train. But IIRC, the Scripter award actually goes to both the screenwriter and the writer of the underlying source material. And in the past, when the Scripter deviated from the obvious Oscar pick(s), it was to award something more obscure, more challenging, “higher art.” For them to jump on the bandwagon for a crowd-pleasing, less complex film like Argo, especially at the expense of Kushner and Goodwin–it just didn’t sit well with many of us and suggests how deep the industry support for Argo is.

  55. Zach

    Good point, I totally forgot about the Scripter, I guess I still don’t believe Argo won that one, it was by design, Lincoln’s to lose. Not that Terrio isn’t a worthy winner, I just happen to think Kushner’s work is a greater accomplishment…and I will only whine if Russell wins.

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