As In Contention's Kris Tapley so eloquently warned us last month, there were many fine screenplays this year that wouldn't be eligible for the 2012 WGA Awards.  Guild awards are a wonderful honor from your peers, but they're also a union honor and if you don't play by the rules you can't get rewarded.  So it goes.

Therefore, it's not too surprising to find a number of unexpected nominees among the field announced by the WGA today.  What's more perplexing is some of the notable omissions ("The Ides of March," "War Horse"), inclusions ("Dragon Tattoo") and one outright rejection by the industry's writers ("Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close").   While guild awards typically signal how their respective Academy branches should vote in regards to nominees and winners, that's not going to be the case this year with so many ineligible contenders.  With that in mind, let's review the adapted and original fields.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY


"50/50"
Written by Will Reiser

"Bridesmaids"
Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

"Midnight in Paris"
Written by Woody Allen

"Win Win"
Screenplay by Tom McCarthy; Story by Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni

"Young Adult"
Written by Diablo Cody

Who missed the cut: "J. Edgar" (thankfully)
Who wasn't eligible: "The Artist," "Beginners," "Shame," "Like Crazy," "Margin Call," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Melancholia," "Rango," "Take Shelter"

Lowdown: "Bridesmaids" and "Midnight in Paris" should land Oscar nods. The non-WGA eligible "Artist" should also make the cut.  "50/50" (Oscar's feel good story) and "Win Win" also seem promising, but not convinced on "Young Adult."  "Margin Call" absolutely has a shot to sneak in too.


ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

"The Descendants"
Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian; Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson

"The Help"
Screenplay by Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett

"Hugo"
Screenplay by John Logan; Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

"Moneyball"
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin; Based on the book by Michael Lewis

Who missed the cut: "War Horse," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Ides of March"
Who wasn't eligible: Albert Nobbs," "Carnage," "Drive," "Jane Eyre," "My Week with Marilyn," "Sarah's Key," "The Skin I Live In," "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

Lowdown: Egad, "Dragon Tattoo" and "The Help" make it in over "War Horse" and "March" (how about that disappearing boyfriend plot line in "The Help" scripters?  Or the CBS crime procedural like script of "Dragon"?).  "Descendants," "Help," "Moneyball" and "Hugo" are in for Oscar, however, we're not convinced on "Dragon."  And "Extremely Loud" is slowly turning into Stephen Daldry's first misfire.

The guild also announced screenplay nominations in the documentary categories.  Out of the following nominees, only "If a Tree Falls" and "Pina" were either eligible or qualified for the Academy's shortlist announced in November.  Great to see the fine "Senna" continue to get recognized, however.

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

"Better This World"
Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega

"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front"
Written by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek

"Nostalgia for the Light"
Written by Patricio Guzmán

"Pina"
Screenplay by Wim Wenders

"Position Among the Stars"
Script by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich, Leonard Retel Helmrich

"Senna"
Written by Manish Pandey

The WGA announced the 2012 WGA Awards nominees in Television including "Homeland," "Boardwalk Empire" and "Louie" on Dec. 7.

The 2012 WGA Awards will be handed out on Sunday, Feb. 19 in Los Angeles.

What do you think of this year's nominees?  Can someone please explain "Dragon Tattoo's" inclusion beyond Zaillon's rep?

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