By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 9, 2008 at 7:36AM
You may recall that because of the Writers strike, the WGA Awards show was cancelled. How odd that the same day that on the WGA members are deciding the fate of the strike, they are also announcing the awards (at 7 PM Pacific).
Several folks have suggested that Juno rookie scribe Diablo Cody is vulnerable and that Tony Gilroy, who also made his directing debut with the popular best picture nominee Michael Clayton, could win original screenplay. I too perceive a Juno backlash. If Cody loses, it's to Gilroy.
But Juno is also popular and writers admire Cody's script. I suspect the WGA will go Cody's way. It's the Oscars where the upset would be more likely to occur. In that case, voters are apportioning votes throughout the ballot, and will want Juno and Clayton to each win something. But even there, assuming that Juno doesn't win best picture, director or actress, Cody's screenplay calls out for recognition as something completely different and a win for the little-indie-that-could, while Gilroy's falls more in the realm of a classical studio picture. It's a horse race.
Among the adapted screenplays, the Coens' No Country for Old Men is the expected winner. But if there were a challenger (more likely in the Oscar race, where No Country could scoop up multiple wins), it would be Ronald Harwood, for the high degree of difficulty on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly screenplay. As magnificent as the collective effort led by Julian Schnabel was, Harwood first cracked the code of how to make a book about a paralyzed guy with a blinking eyelid into a visually arresting movie.
On the docs, I don't know how many people saw Alex Gibney's Taxi to the Dark Side, but the writing is superb. He also helped out Charles Ferguson with his dense but clear expose of the U.S. government's blunders in Iraq in No End in Sight, one of the few docs to do business this year, along with another strong contender here, Michael Moore's engaging political screed Sicko.
Here are the WGA nominees:
Diablo Cody, Juno
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl
Judd Apatow, Knocked Up
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Joel, Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sean Penn, Into the Wild
James Vanderbilt, Zodiac
THE CAMDEN 28
NO END IN SIGHT
THE RAPE OF EUROPA
TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]