'Star Trek,' 'Hangover' and 'Avatar' among controversial WGA nods

Plus: Taylor Lautner is a Golden Globe presenter and more

Leonard Nimoy as Spock Prime in "Star Trek"

Even Leonard Nimoy must be thinking, "WGA nod? Really?" after "Star Trek's" nominaton today.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Writer's Guild of America announced their 2010 honorees this morning, but while this would usually cause a bustle of excitement for various reasons the reaction was a bit more muted this time around. 

The WGA nominees are usually an intriguing snapshot of how Oscar's writing nominations may pan out and can provide a tease at overall surprises for the Academy Awards.  This year, however, the WGA disqualified a number of prominent contenders because the screenwriters or the qualifying work are not part of their guild including "Up" and "Inglourious Basterds" in the original screenplay competition and "District 9," "An Education," "In the Loop," "Fantastic Mr. Fox," "A Single Man" and "The Road" in the always competitive adapted screenplay pool.  Therefore, some more populist and not as worthy nominees have made the field.  Let's take a look shall we?

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

"(500) Days of Summer"
Written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Fox Searchlight

"Avatar"
Written by James Cameron

"The Hangover"
Written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore

"The Hurt Locker"
Written by Mark Boal

"A Serious Man"
Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen; Focus Features

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

"Crazy Heart"
Screenplay by Scott Cooper; Based on the novel by Thomas Cobb;

"Julie & Julia"
Screenplay by Nora Ephron; Based on the books Julie & Julia by Julie Powell and My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

"Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire," Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher; Based on the novel Push by Sapphire

"Star Trek"
Written by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman; Based upon Star Trek, Created by Gene Roddenberry

"Up in the Air"
Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner; Based upon the novel by Walter Kirn

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

"Against the Tide"
Screenplay by Richard Trank

"Capitalism: A Love Story"
Written by Michael Moore

"The Cove"
Written by Mark Monroe

"Earth Days"
Written by Robert Stone

"Good Hair"
Written by Chris Rock & Jeff Stilson and Lance Crouther and Chuck Sklar

"Soundtrack for a Revolution"
Written by Bill Guttentag & Dan Sturman

Now, in all honesty, there is no way "Avatar" is getting into the original screenplay race if "Basterds" and "Up" are included here.  And Adapted?  Only "Precious" and likely winner "Up in the Air" make the cut.  "Julie an Julia"?  "Star Trek"?  (Did I really just see those hacks Orci and Kurtzman listed here?) Neither movie was entertaining nor a success because of the screenplay.  "The Hangover" is a nice honor, but you can even argue it's Todd Phillip's direction an the actor's chemistry that make that movie as memorable as it is.

Needless to say, the WGA is in a bind here.  The purpose of their awards is to recognize the best of their membership, not to promote the achievements of those who either do not join their guild or qualify.  Unfortunately, that is going to lead to years like this one where, well, they just don't mean as much. 

Should be a fun awards show though.

In other awards season news...

- In their never ending battle to beat the Oscars in sheer star power, the HFPA and NBC announced that none other than Taylor Lautner will be presenting an award at this Sunday's telecast.  The "Twilight Saga" star joins other newcomers Josh Brolin and Amy Poehler in handing out awards during the show (and yes, that was an actual TV star mentioned there).  The other big names that will be hitting the Globes outside of the nominees themselves include Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Cher, Chace Crawford, Cameron Diaz, Colin Farrell, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Garner, Matthew Fox, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Neil Patrick Harris, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Julia Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Winslet and Sam Worthington.  Whew!  Look for complete coverage of the Golden Globes beginning Sunday on HitFix.

- Speaking of the Globes, in case you missed it, your loyal pundit threw out some Golden Globe predictions today.  The show should be mighty populist this year with Sandra Bullock and "Avatar" dominating the night.  As usual though, the HFPA should spread the love around making sure no studio goes home empty handed (or they'll certainly try to make sure).

- The HitFix team is gearing up for some massive coverage of this year's 2010 Sundance Film Festival beginning Jan 21 and today the Sundance Institute announced the grand jury for the film's prestigious dramatic film competition.  The judges include former Sundance Queen Parker Posey,"Jennifer's Body" and "Girlfight" director Karyn Kusama, noted cinematographer Robert Yeoman, producer Jason Kliot and acclaimed author Russell Banks.  Honestly, we're just looking forward to seeing the one and only "Party Girl" at the festival all week.
 

As the season heats up, look for breaking awards season news and commentary daily on Awards Campaign.  For the latest, follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.

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