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Every year it's worth noting that a number of the original and adapted screenplays in the hunt for Oscar consideration won't get the extra bump of a nomination from the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Reasons for failing to qualify include the writer of the script not being a guild member or not retroactively handling the requisite process, among other things.
After taking a look at the official WGA ballot this season, I count 15 scripts from our screenplay Contenders pages that will not be eligible for consideration. Many of them seem out of the Oscar hunt for the most part and the number of notable exclusions is smaller than normal.
In the original screenplay category, as always, Quentin Tarantino will not be competing for his work on "Django Unchained." He has never been a member of the guild, but of course, that didn't stop his scripts for "Pulp Fiction" and "Inglorious Basterds" to go on to Oscar recognition. (Tarantino was similarly not a member of the DGA until this year, but he received two nominations prior nominations from that group, nevertheless.)
Also ineligible for original screenplay with the guild is "Amour" from Michael Haneke. Foreign films made under the rules of WGA-affiliated international guilds can often qualify, but alas, a number of movies made outside the US are often disqualified due to further guild requirements. (Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano's "The Intouchables" is in a similar boat this year.)
Haneke might be seen as a more likely Oscar nominee than even Tarantino, but he won't be getting the boost of a WGA nod. Then again, neither have a number of other foreign films that went on to Oscar nominations, including Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" just last year from the same company -- Sony Pictures Classics -- that's pitching "Amour" for awards this season.
Oscar nominee for "In Bruges," Martin McDonagh, will not be in play for "Seven Psychopaths," nor will Ava DuVernay for indie film "Middle of Nowhere" or the animated "Brave" (animated films are often made outside the guild guidelines and typically fail to qualify). But all three could find traction with members of the Academy's writers branch.
While there are 68 scripts on the ballot for the original category, the adapted field features only 44 titles. A handful are notable, beginning with "Les Misérables." Tom Hooper's musical, written by William Nicholson, is one of the big dogs of the awards season, just like "The King's Speech" was in 2010. And just like that Oscar-winning script, this one won't be competing for a WGA award.
Also worth pointing out is the exclusion of Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar's "Beasts of the Southern Wild," widely believed to be in the thick of the Oscar hunt. The film was also ineligible with SAG, meaning any support for the film will likely remain beneath the surface until the Academy announces nominations on January 10.
Zeitlin and Alibar's Fox Searchlight stablemate Ol Parker will also be on the sidelines for "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," as will Ronald Harwood's "Quartet" self-adaptation and the great Tom Stoppard for "Anna Karenina." Each of them will have support within the Academy, however.
So nix those from your list of predictions. The WGA Award nominations will be announced on January 3, 2013 -- incidentally, the very day Oscar ballots are due from Academy members.
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