2013 Writers Guild of America Preview

Can ‘Argo’ continue its guild sweep with the Writers Guild of America?

WGA_Awards_LogoThe Writers Guild of America will be announcing their winners tomorrow, Sunday, February 17.  All season long there have been many instances, which I’m just as guilty of, where we doubt Argo’s chances in an awards show.  The BFCA and Golden Globes seemed expected.  The Producers Guild of America was cool.  The SAG Ensemble win was jaw-dropping.  The Directors Guild of America was a fine achievement and something that should have happened anyway.  For me, the BAFTA win was very telling since Argo never seemed like it would appeal to an overseas group like BAFTA when films like Les Miserables and Life of Pi were nominated alongside it.

Chris Terrio’s script is beloved among critics and audiences however, of all the seven nominations that Argo has received with the Academy Awards, the Adapted Screenplay category is clearly a three-horse race with Tony Kushner (Lincoln) and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook).  Please note the WGA is not an indicator of Best Picture like PGA, DGA, and SAG.  This is citing the screenplay and the screenplay alone.  If that was the case, masterpieces like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) would have had more a shot for a Motion Picture mention.

Since 2000, the WGA Adapted winner has matched up 9 out of 12 times with Oscar.  Up in the Air (2009) was upset by Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (2009), while The Pianist (2002) bested out The Hours (2002) and The Cider House Rules (2000) trumped Election (2000).

David-O-Russell-Best-DirectorDavid O. Russell, though an acclaimed filmmaker, I’d argue is more a respected writer than anything else.  His sharp, clearly constructed script was a favorite on the critical front all season.  Unless there’s an underlying love for Beasts of the Southern Wild that we haven’t seen since it hasn’t been eligible for nearly any awards all season, I suspect a win from the Writers Guild will translate to an Oscar win.  A win for Stephen Chbosky’s screenwriting masterpiece, The Perks of Being a Wallflower would be an absolute dream but I digress.

In the Original Screenplay lineup at WGA, Quentin Tarantino is nowhere to be found since he’s never been a member of the Writers Guild.  Michael Haneke’s Amour is also missing and funnily enough, those are the two frontrunners for the Original Screenplay award at the Oscars.

WGA nominees, FlightLooperThe MasterMoonrise Kingdom, and Zero Dark Thirty, all seem to be out of the running for Oscar, or aren’t even present.  Looper, a critical favorite of the year, missed out with the Academy Awards, and not sure if that early on resounding love still exists.  Paul Thomas Anderson is arguably in the same boat as David O. Russell as he’s thought of more affectionately as a writer than a director/filmmaker.  This is Anderson’s fourth Writers Guild nomination and perhaps they’ll want to reward a fine writing career thus far for his work on The Master.

On his second citation, Wes Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola may be considered the favorites to win on Sunday for their quirky, coming-of-age story, Moonrise Kingdom.  I believe second to Rian Johnson in terms of critical wins of the season; Anderson’s film was in the running for a Best Picture nomination towards the end of the season and managed a surprise Producers Guild of America nomination.

Mark Boal won this award in 2010 for Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker.  When many thought that Quentin Tarantino would win that year for Inglourious Basterds, the coattails of The Hurt Locker and its inevitable Best Picture win would bring in many categories like Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Original Screenplay.  If the writers are as eclectic and free-minded as we think they are, they may have paid no attention to the controversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty and reward his detailed, passionate project about the killing of one of the most notorious men in history.

Predictions are listed below.  Include your thoughts in the comment section and see who gets a boost from the Writers Guild.


Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal – Zero Dark Thirty

Alternate: Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola – Moonrise Kingdom

Best Adapted Screenplay
David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook

Alternate: Chris Terrio – Argo

Best Documentary Screenplay
Malik Bendjelloul – Searching for Sugar Man

Alternate: Amy Berg – West of Memphis


Homeland: Chip Johannessen, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Henry Bromell, Meredith Stiehm, Alexander Cary

Alternate: Breaking Bad: Moira Walley-Beckett, Peter Gould, Vince Gilligan, Sam Catlin, Gennifer Hutchison, Thomas Schnauz, George Mastras

Modern Family: Ben Karlin, Danny Zuker, Audra Sielaff, Jeffrey Richman, Dan O’Shannon, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Abraham Higginbotham, Brad Walsh, Paul Corrigan, Bill Wrubel, Elaine Ko, Cindy Chupack

Alternate: Girls: Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Jennifer Konner, Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Deborah Schoeneman, Dan Sterling, Bruce Eric Kaplan

Comedy/Variety – Music, Awards, Tributes – Specials
Jimmy Kimmel LIVE

Alternate: The 66th Annual Tony Awards

Documentary – Other Than Current Events
The American Experience – Ric Burns – “Death and the Civil War”

Alternate: American Masters – Peter Jones – “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night”

Documentary – Current Events
Frontline: Martin Smith, Marcela Gaviria – “Money, Power and Wall Street: Episode Four”

Alternate: Frontline: Martin Smith, Marcela Gaviria – “Money, Power and Wall Street: Episode One”

What do you think?

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Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


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In Oscar season I always avoid the odds makers and simply go with what made me sit up and go: Now that was worth seeing!!! In this category, that movie is “Moonrise Kingdom”. It may not win, but the writer put a smile on my face from beginning to end and still makes me smile months after seeing the film. Now that is great writing.



Will there be an Awards Circuit Power Hour recorded the day before the Oscars? For last minute predictions, etc. I began following “Cooking With Mr. C.” blog for Oscar week. Would love to hear from him on what he does for his Oscar Party. Apparently the guy is quite knowledgeable about food and film. Looking forward to Oscar night.


Joey Magidson

I’m very torn between Argo, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook for Adapted, but for the WGA I’m just going to throw up my hands and follow the trends:

Adapted: Argo
Original: Zero Dark Thirty
Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man



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