Writers Guild of America’s Awards 2013

February 18th, 2013 - Graham Eley

The nominations for the Writers Guild of America’s annual awards contain few surprises but the films that failed to qualify once again define it as much as those competing for honours.


The WGA’s requirement that nominees must write the screenplay under a specified collective bargaining arrangement has the effect of reducing the pot by over 60% compared to the Oscars.  Although it lessens the nominations’ value as trending indicators, 75% of WGA’s last winners went on to Oscar success.


Best adapted screenplay offers the ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ one of its strongest chances of an Oscar nomination and the film’s ineligibility for the WGA’s awards distorts the outcome.  ‘Les Miserables’ is another notable but less serious exclusion having remained on the edge of the Oscar race in this category.  ‘The Perks Of Being A Wallflower’ is a major player in the script stakes and joins award season heavyweights ‘Lincoln’, ‘Argo’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘Life Of Pi’ on WGA’s list.  ‘The Sessions’ was the most important omission from the eligible candidates.


Best original screenplay suffered more from forced absences with Oscar nomination shoo-in ‘Django’ and other serious contender, ‘Amour’, both out of contention.  With the significantly reduced field, WGA was able to nominate both  ‘Flight’ and ‘Looper’ being two films that could easily compete for one position in the Oscar nominations.  Oscar favourite in this category, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and two of its main challengers, ‘The Master’ and ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ complete list.  GE 5 January 2012








Flight, John Gatins


Looper, Rian Johnson;


The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson;


Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola; and


Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal.






Argo, Chris Terrio


Based on a selection from The Master Of Disguise by Antonio J Mendez and the Wired Magazine article The Great Escape by Joshuah Bearman;



Life Of Pi, David Magee


Based on the novel by Yann Martel;



Lincoln, Tony Kushner


Based in part on the book Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius Of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin;



The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky


Based on his book; and



Silver Linings Playbook, David O Russell


Based on the novel by Matthew Quick.







The Central Park Five, Sarah Burns and David McMahon and Ken Burns;


The Invisible War, Kirby Dick;


Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God, Alex Gibney;


Searching For Sugar Man, Malik Bendejelloul;


We Are Legion: The Story Of The Hacktivists, Brian Knappenberger; and


West Of Memphis, Written by Amy Berg and Billy McMillin.

The Writers Guild of America’s awards’ strict insistence on excluding films that fail to comply with a specified collective bargaining arrangement, takes out 40% of those eligible for an Oscar; making it less relevant than the other guilds as an awards season indicator.


This was particularly evident in the original screenplay category where the current Oscar frontrunner, Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’, and its main competitor, Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’, fell foul of the rules.  It left the coast clear for Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, based on Mark Boal’s script, to take the award.


The best adapted screenplay saw Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’ continue its domination of the crucial guilds awards with yet another win.  ‘Argo’ defeated Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’, its main challenger for Oscar success in this category. Chris Terrio adapted the script from ‘The Master Of Disguise’ (Antonio J Mendez) and Wired Magazine’s article ‘The Great Escape (Joshuah Bearman)’.


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