Nominees for 66th Writers Guild Awards are Surprising (and Not So Surprising)

On Friday the Writers Guild of America announced its nominees for the 66th annual Writers Guild Awards, which will be held in both New York and Los Angeles (why is that exactly?) on February 1st. In a season filled to the brim with awards ceremonies, many might ask why this one deserves special mention. Well the Writers Guild is sort of like an elite club that only the funniest and smartest entertainment writers can join. These are the behind the scenes people who shape and create the television and movies we know and love — so they deserve our respect and attention. Plus if we don't pay attention to them, we could have another strike on our hands, and nobody wants to miss the Golden Globes due to some angry writers... (see: 2008 debacle).

While different rules and regulations, the WGA are not always great indicators of Oscar winners to come. The two ceremonies employ different voting systems, and the Writers Guild uses very strict guidelines for determining nominees. Thus many screenplays that get nominated, and even win Oscars, are not nominated at all for the WGA, including winners such as Tarantino's Django Unchained and Seidler's The Kings Speech. This year, several scripts that are surefire Oscar nominees were ruled ineligible — most notably 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station (sob), and Philomena.

However, several interesting scripts were left out of the race, including Joel and Ethan Cohen's Inside Lleywen Davis, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, and David Strong's The Butler. All of these writers have been nominated in the past, especially the beloved Cohen brothers, so their snub is raising questions about the film's Oscar chances (although I am a HUGE Cohen brothers fan, I've heard this one is less than spectacular). Some surprises the other way include Borten's Dallas Buyers Club and Berg's Lone Survivor (which actually looks really good, plus Marky mark...sigh).

As for television, many of shows nominated mirror those nominated for the Golden Globes, including newcomers Orange is the New Black, Masters of Sex, and House of Cards, all of which feature fantastic, witty writing. Comedy also contains the same roundup, featuring crowd-pleasers like Parks and Recreation and Modern Family.

So why are these awards important? Without writers there would be no film industry, and with no film industry the world in which we live would simply be far less interesting. And the nominees for 2013's best writing are (I've underlined possible winners, or at least my picks):

MOVIES:

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:American Hustle, Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell; Columbia PicturesBlue Jasmine, Written by Woody Allen; Sony ClassicsDallas Buyers Club, Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack; Focus FeaturesHer, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.Nebraska, Written by Bob Nelson; Paramount Pictures

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:August: Osage County, Screenplay by Tracy Letts; Based on his play; The Weinstein CompanyBefore Midnight, Written by Richard Linklater & Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke; Based on characters created by Richard Linklater & Kim Krizan; Sony ClassicsCaptain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia PicturesLone Survivor, Written by Peter Berg; Based on the book by Marcus Lutrell with Patrick Robinson; Universal PicturesThe Wolf of Wall Street, Screenplay by Terence Winter; Based on the book by Jordan Belfort; Paramount Pictures

TELEVISION:

DRAMA SERIES:Breaking BadThe Good WifeHomelandHouse of CardsMad Men

COMEDY SERIES:30 RockModern FamilyParks and RecreationOrange Is the New BlackVeep

NEW SERIES:The AmericansHouse of CardsMasters of SexOrange is the New BlackRay Donovan

Image: Atlas Entertainment