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WGA Awards: Cody vs. Gilroy, Coens vs. Harwood

Photo of Anne Thompson 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).
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CodystrikephotoYou 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).

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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.

(Am I the only one who thinks Diablo Cody is a dead ringer for Louise Brooks?)79512503_10smallsquareBrooksjpg

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.

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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:

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Diablo Cody, Juno

Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton

Tamara Jenkins, The Savages

Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Judd Apatow, Knocked Up

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

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

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

THE CAMDEN 28

NANKING

NO END IN SIGHT

THE RAPE OF EUROPA

SICKO

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE

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[Originally appeared on Variety.com]

This article is related to: Stuck In Love, Genres, Awards, Oscars, comedy, Diablo Cody, Screenwriters


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.