The Writers Guild nominations seemed to fall right in line with expectations, with one glaring exception. The noticeable absence of Oscar frontrunner The Artist in Original Screenplay was not a diss but simply because that film — written by its director, Michel Hazanavicius — was ineligible under the WGA’s award rules as it was not produced under a guild contract. Mike Mills’ Focus Features film Beginners was similarily ineligible in the Original Screenplay category along with titles like Shame and Margin Call, with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Drive among those in the Adapted Screenplay lineup.
The Writers Guild, unlike SAG, DGA or PGA, will only consider movies made under their auspices, which means often that likely Oscar nominees in the writing categories are often AWOL at the WGA, which believes these awards should be restricted to union-approved productions. Animated and foreign films also regularly fail to make the cut at WGA but often wind up on the Academy’s list, so the absence of Paramount’s Rango for instance shouldn’t be an indication of its ultimate chances with Oscar.
Certainly The Artist, even though it is a silent film, will likely be nominated by the Academy’s writers branch at the expense of one of the WGA’s strong list of nominees: 50/50, Bridesmaids, Midnight In Paris, Win Win and Young Adult. Terrence Malick’s Cannes winner The Tree of Life, missing from the WGA lineup along with the WGA-ineligible screenplay for the Iranian Oscar entry A Separation, would also appear to be strong contenders to replace one or two of the WGA choices when Academy Award nominations are announced January 24.