People often ask me why I don’t include the Writers Guild of America in the “top guilds” when it comes to discussing awards, but the answer is very simple, with this morning’s nominations being a prime example. Every year, because of their silly and narrow-minded rules, they leave out several contenders for their screenplay awards, and this year is no exception.
Among the nominees, you’ll find most of what was expected, including The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, and Gone Girl. However, because certain films didn’t follow the WGA’s rules, you won’t find The Theory of Everything, Selma, or, most importantly, Birdman. The only reason I was looking forward to these awards this year was because they would help settle the matter of which original screenplay has the lead going into the Oscars, with Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel being practically neck and neck thus far with about ten critics’ awards apiece. But sadly, with Birdman removed, it looks like the latter will have no trouble scooping up the award, telling us nothing in the process. Although, there is always the possibility of a Boyhood upset despite it having only won two screenplay awards thus far (one of which was a tie). For this category, it looks like we’ll have to look to the HFPA (whose screenplay winners have been winning Oscars a lot in the last several years) and the BFCA (whose Original Screenplay category has also matched the Oscars on a fairly regular basis) to see who our leader is.
Of course, this isn’t the first time they’ve removed a potential Oscar winner from the pack. Last year, 12 Years a Slave was deemed ineligible, even though everyone already knew it would be taking the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. The year before that, Django Unchained was removed from the Original Screenplay category only to go on and win Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, with the very same thing happening to The King’s Speech just a couple of years earlier.
At the very least, the Adapted Screenplay category should confirm Gone Girl‘s position at the top of the pile, with it having won eight screenplay awards so far. In fact, its closest competitor in the category is a rather surprising nominee, Guardians of the Galaxy, which won Best Adapted Screenplay from the North Carolina Film Critics Association (the other nominees have won zero awards).
One of these days, hopefully sooner rather than later, the WGA will realize that they should be all-inclusive in their awards, for if they throw out several contenders per year, then they can’t really say that these are the best screenplays in their respective category, but rather the best screenplays that followed their guidelines. We can only hope that one day they’ll join the other guilds at the top (PGA, DGA, and SAG), who don’t have such silly restrictions.
For what they’re worth, the WGA will announce their winners on February 14th. Please see below for the complete list of feature nominees.
Boyhood, Written by Richard Linklater; IFC Films
Foxcatcher, Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman; Sony Pictures Classics
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness; Fox Searchlight
Nightcrawler, Written by Dan Gilroy; Open Road Films
Whiplash, Written by Damien Chazelle; Sony Pictures Classics
American Sniper, Written by Jason Hall; Based on the book by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice; Warner Bros.
Gone Girl, Screenplay by Gillian Flynn; Based on her novel; 20th Century Fox
Guardians of the Galaxy, Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman; Based on the Marvel comic by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The Imitation Game, Written by Graham Moore; Based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges; The Weinstein Company
Wild, Screenplay by Nick Hornby; Based on the book by Cheryl Strayed; Fox Searchlight
Finding Vivian Maier, Written by John Maloof & Charlie Siskel; Sundance Selects
The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, Written by Brian Knappenberger; FilmBuff
Last Days in Vietnam, Written by Mark Bailey & Kevin McAlester; American Experience Films
Red Army, Written by Gabe Polsky; Sony Pictures Classics