A copy of this year's WGA ballot made its way to my inbox today, so naturally the process of sussing out what screenplays did and didn't make the cut was in order. There are 33 adapted screenplays on the ballot and 55 originals.

However, even with considerably more contenders, the original field was gutted the most. Contenders in the thick of the Oscar hunt that aren't on the ballot (due typically to not being in accordance with paperwork guidelines or signatory stipulations) are: "The Artist," "Beginners," "The Iron Lady," "The Lady," "Like Crazy," "Margin Call," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Melancholia," "Rango," "Shame" and "Take Shelter." Ouch. What does that even leave? I'll get to that in a moment.

In the adapted field, the notable absences are: "Albert Nobbs," "Carnage," "Drive," "Jane Eyre," "My Week with Marilyn," "Sarah's Key," "The Skin I Live In" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." There are others, but each of those lists, I think, is being a bit liberal as it is with what's considered in Oscar play this year.

So, I suppose it's time maybe to make a few predictions. The guild will not announce the nominees until January 5, but let's get it out of the way anyway.

In the adapted category, I would say "The Descendants," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Moneyball" and "War Horse" are all formidable. So those are my picks. Outside chances exist for "Hugo" and "The Ides of March," while the gutting could pave the way for entertainment efforts ("The Lincoln Lawyer," "The Muppets") or things landing more in the critical darling framework ("We Need to Talk About Kevin").

I should point out that "The Adventures of Tintin" is on there, the only animated film of the year present on the ballot (simply because typically animation companies are not guild signatories, but "Tintin" is in a different boat).

In the original field, boy, what a waste land. I'll say "50/50," "Bridesmaids," "Midnight in Paris," "Win Win" and "Young Adult," making for a very comedy-heavy slate. "J. Edgar" could still score, and "Contagion" is actually a strong play here. I just wouldn't know which one to toss out.

Indies from "Cedar Rapids" to "Pariah" to "Rampart" to "The Tree of Life" could score, as could summer blockbuster "Super 8" and early fall entry "Warrior." So I guess it's not much of a waste land, really. Just a smattering of possibilities that ought to be thankful for the added exposure.

As mentioned, the WGA announces its nominees on January 5, 2012. The guild's awards show will be held on February 19. Feel free to offer up your own predictions in the comments section below.

For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.

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