'Descendants,' 'Dragon Tattoo' get adapted noms

Leaning heavily toward laffers, Hollywood writers have tapped scripts for “50/50,” “Bridesmaids,” “Midnight in Paris,” “Win Win” and “Young Adult” for the Writers Guild of America’s original screenplay award, while “The Descendants,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Help,” “Hugo” and “Moneyball” drew adapted screenplay nominations.

The WGA, which announced the noms Thursday, will disclose the winners Feb. 19 in simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York based on voting by the 12,000 guild members.

Steve Zaillian will be competing against himself, as he received two nominations in the adapted category for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “Moneyball,” the latter of which he co-wrote with Aaron Sorkin.

Diablo Cody, tapped for the dark comedy “Young Adult,” told Variety that she was stunned when she heard about the nom while driving out to the San Fernando Valley.

“I cried,” she said. “I really don’t think it’s worthy compared to the others, which are so amazing, and I hadn’t expected another nomination after the first one.”

Cody won the WGA award and the Oscar for her original screenplay for “Juno” in 2008.

In all, six of the 10 nominated scripts were comedies, including all five in the original category. WGA voters have shown a propensity for choosing comedies in the past such as “Juno,” “Knocked Up” and “Lars and the Real Girl” in the original category in 2008 and “Burn After Reading,” “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” and “The Wrestler” in 2009, when “Milk” won the trophy.

Woody Allen garnered his 20th WGA nomination for “Midnight in Paris.” He’s won WGA awards for “Annie Hall,” “Broadway Danny Rose,” “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Stan Chervin received part of the “Moneyball” nom for his “story by” credit. “To be nominated by our fellow writers for a WGA award is the home run in the bottom of the 9th that wins the game,” he said.

Other nominees in the adapted category are Alexander Payne with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash for “The Descendants”; Tate Taylor for “The Help”; and John Logan for “Hugo.”

“I was eating cereal at home when my agent called and yelled, then I yelled too,” Taylor said.

Logan said, “Being recognized by other writers — by my colleagues, who know what the job is — means everything.”

Payne has won the WGA trophy twice, for “Election” and “Sideways.”

Besides Allen and Cody, nominated writers in the original category are Will Reiser for “50/50,” Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig for “Bridesmaids” and Tom McCarthy for “Win Win.”

McCarthy, nommed previously for “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor,” credited the cast for the “Win Win” recognition. “The actors really are the ones who brought it to life,” he said. “It’s very flattering since a nomination like this is something you never take for granted.”

Sorkin won the adapted category last year for “The Social Network,” while Christopher Nolan won the original category for “Inception.” Sorkin said, “It’s a thrill to have the ‘Moneyball’ screenplay recognized by my peers — and by my betters — in the WGA, and it’s the highest possible honor to be nominated alongside such outstanding work.”

The nominees were selected from 88 eligible screenplays — 33 in the adapted category and 55 in the original category, with the requirement that scripts be produced under WGA jurisdiction and that the scripts be formally submitted for consideration. That excluded several notable candidates from the awards mix, including “The Artist,” “Beginners,” “The Iron Lady,” “Margin Call,” “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” “Rango,” “Shame” and “Take Shelter” in the original category; notable exclusions in the adapted field include “Albert Nobbs,” “Carnage,” “Jane Eyre,” “My Week With Marilyn,” “Sarah’s Key” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

When Nolan received his WGA award last February, he called on the guild to ease the restrictions, but leaders of the WGA — the ultimate arbiter of screenwriting credits — have said repeatedly that they won’t loosen the rules.

Notable eligible screenplays that didn’t make the cut included “Contagion,” “J. Edgar” and “Tree of Life” in the original category and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “War Horse” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin” in the adapted category.

Even with guild exclusions, the WGA Awards have been a fairly reliable indicator for Oscar winners in the writing categories. David Seider won the Oscar last year for “The King’s Speech” in the original category after being ineligible for the WGA award, but the guild and Oscars had matched in 11 of the past 16 years before then.

With Sorkin winning the Oscar and the WGA Award for “The Social Network,” the adapted category winners have matched in 12 of the last 17 years.

The Oscar noms will be unveiled Jan. 24. The writers branch composes about 7% of the Academy’s voting membership, or 376 of 5,783.

The WGA also announced documentary noms Thursday for “Better This World” by Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega; “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” by Marshall Curry and Matthew Hamachek; “Nostalgia for the Light,” by Patricio Guzman; “Pina,” by Wim Wenders; “Position Among the Stars,” by Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich; and “Senna,” by Manish Pandey.

“If a Tree Falls” and “Pina” are on the AMPAS shortlist for consideration as Oscar feature docu nominees. The WGA does not require that documentaries be produced under its jurisdiction to receive a nomination but the credited writers must have joined the WGA West’s Nonfiction Writers Caucus or the WGA East Nonfiction Writers Caucus to be considered.

AND THE NOMINEES ARE:

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“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

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“The Descendants” – Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat 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

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY
“Better This World” – Written by Katie Galloway & Kelly Duane de la Vega; Loteria Films
“If a Tree Falls: The 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 Films
“Senna” – Written by Manish Pandey; Producers Distribution Agency

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