If you read into the various guild awards as predictors of what the Oscars might nominate-- and really, what else would you do with them?-- it's hard to know what today's nominations of the year's best screenplays from the Writers Guild of America might mean. For various reasons the WGA had disqualified many of the year's best scripts, including Toy Story 3, and The King's Speech, which left some serious gaps in the lineup that were bound to be filled by some outlier, never-previously-in-the-Oscar-discussion choices.
That probably explains how the likes of Please Give (a movie virtually forgotten despite its quality) and Black Swan (a movie that succeeds almost despite its script) found their way into the Best Original Screenplay lineup at the WGA, and how I Love You Phillip Morris will be competing against slam-dunk-winner The Social Network in Best Adapted Screenplay. The rest of the nominees largely expected; take a look at the list below and we'll talk after.
Black Swan, Screenplay by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin; Story by Andres Heinz; Fox Searchlight
The Fighter, Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Paramount Pictures
Inception, Written by Christopher Nolan; Warner Bros.
The Kids Are All Right, Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg; Focus Features
Please Give, Written by Nicole Holofcener; Sony Pictures Classics
127 Hours, Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy; Based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston; Fox Searchlight
I Love You Phillip Morris, Written by John Requa & Glenn Ficarra; Based on the book by Steven McVicker; Roadside Attractions
The Social Network, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin; Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich; Sony Pictures
The Town, Screenplay by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard; Based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan; Warner Bros.
True Grit, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen; Based on the novel by Charles Portis; Paramount Pictures
Enemies of the People, Written, Directed, Filmed and Produced by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath; International Film Circuit
Freedom Riders, Written, Produced and Directed by Stanley Nelson; International Film Circuit
Gasland, Written and Directed by Josh Fox; HBO Documentary Films and International WOW Company
Inside Job, Produced, Written and Directed by Charles Ferguson; Co-written by Chad Beck, Adam Bolt; Sony Pictures Classics
The Two Escobars, Written by Michael Zimbalist, Jeff Zimbalist; ESPN Films
Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?, Written and Directed by John Scheinfeld; Lorber Films
Leaving aside the documentary nominees, which seem strange but I have no idea what the criteria are, the list is largely a selection of Best Picture favorites. The absence of Toy Story 3 and The King's Speech left room for some of the outliers to pop in, but neither are likely to win in Best Original Screenplay up against the likes of Inception and The Kids Are All Right. Even though this list of nominees is a little strange, we can probably put some stock in what we learn from the winners when the awards are handed out on February 5.