The Writers Guild of America has released the nominees for their Writer’s Guild Awards today, and while there’s certainly some room for quibbling as far as their choices go, the screenplays they’ve nominated in their film categories are at least a diverse array of projects. There’s something here for everyone.
I balked at these choices a bit on first glance, they’d left off many of my favorite films of the year. But after thinking about what was missing for a few seconds I started to realize that a lot of the films I really loved over the course of 2011 relied more on mood and photography than they did their screenplays. In my mind, there was no real superstar script this year, like Inception and The Social Network last year. I loved things like Drive and Shame, but did their greatness really lie in their screenplays?
Still, I can think of a handful of things that I would have liked to have seen included that weren’t. As far as original screenplays go, I think a film like Warrior was a master of structure, and is more deserving than something like Bridesmaids, which was a fairly generic comedy plot and which probably relied largely on improvisation for its humor. And I really miss a nomination for something like The Skin I Live In when it comes to the adapted screenplay section; especially when they’ve nominated a film like The Help, which cannot name writing as one of its strengths. Check out the list, and more ruminations, after the break.
50/50, Written by Will Reiser; Summit Entertainment
Bridesmaids, Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig; Universal Studios
Midnight in Paris, Written by Woody Allen; Sony Pictures Classics
Win Win, Screenplay by Tom McCarthy; Story by Tom McCarthy & Joe Tiboni; Fox Searchlight
Young Adult, Written by Diablo Cody; Paramount Pictures
The Descendants, Screenplay by Alexander Payne andNat Faxon & Jim Rash; Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemming; Fox Searchlight
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian; Based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, originally published by Norstedts; Columbia Pictures
The Help, Screenplay by Tate Taylor; Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett; DreamWorks Pictures
Hugo, Screenplay by John Logan; Based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; Paramount Pictures
Moneyball, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; Story by Stan Chervin; Based on the book by Michael Lewis; Columbia Pictures
Better This World, Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega; Loteria Films
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, Written by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek; Oscilloscope Pictures
Nostalgia for the Light, Written by Patricio Guzmán; Icarus Films
Pina, Screenplay by Wim Wenders; Sundance Selects
Position Among the Stars, Script by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich, Leonard Retel Helmrich; HBO Documentary Films
Senna, Written by Manish Pandey; Producers Distribution Agency
Like I said earlier, there’s something here for everybody. I enjoyed Woody Allen’s writing on Midnight in Paris quite a bit, and am definitely pulling for him to get the win. And though I thought The Descendants started out a little bit clunky and relied too much on voiceover narration in its first act, it’s a film that got better as it went on and eventually won me over completely. I wouldn’t mind seeing it get some recognition for how its script subtly handled some potentially melodramatic material.
And as far as the documentary category goes, I haven’t seen many of the nominees, but who can deny the great work that went into making Senna? What do you think? Which screenplays nominated are your favorites, and who do you like that got left off the list?