'District 9,' 'In the Loop' admired as they surprise

Did “District 9″ take the adapted screenplay slot many assumed would go to “Fantastic Mr. Fox”? Both films were gaining momentum in the Oscar race as smartly penned entertainments, but it was the CGI-enhanced sci-fi crowdpleaser — a critical darling with no early awards for its screenplay, by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell — that overtook Wes Anderson’s effort.

Then again, maybe political satire “In the Loop” was the sneak nominee, since its quartet of writers — Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche — were New York Film Critics award winners, and it has no picture nomination to back it up.

The other nominees were expected, although Nick Hornby’s work on “An Education” hasn’t racked up any significant wins so far. Geoffrey Fletcher (“Precious”) took the Satellite award, and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (“Up in the Air”) have Golden Globe, National Board of Review and numerous critics’ groups wins under their belts already.

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