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Writers Guild nominates 'Avatar,' Star Trek,' 'Hangover' for awards

Other nominees include Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for '(500) Days of Summer,' Mark Boal for 'The Hurt Locker' and Joel and Ethan Coen for 'A Serious Man.'

January 12, 2010|By Susan King

Two sci-fi blockbusters and a raunchy box office hit comedy were nominated Monday for the Writers Guild of America Award.

James Cameron, who earned a Directors Guild of America nomination last week, received a WGA nod in the original screenplay category for the sci-fi fantasy phenomenon "Avatar," which so far has made $1.3 billion worldwide. And Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman picked up a nomination in the adapted screenplay category for the acclaimed "Star Trek" reboot based on the original Gene Roddenberry series.

Jon Lucas and Scott Moore received an original screenplay nomination for the raucous "The Hangover," the No. 1 R-rated film of 2009.

Rounding out that category are Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for the offbeat romantic comedy "(500) Days of Summer"; Mark Boal for the war drama "The Hurt Locker"; and Joel and Ethan Coen for the quirky black comedy "A Serious Man."

"It's a great honor, really, to get this kind of recognition from other writers who, I think, know as much as anybody how hard it is to get any movie made, let alone an independent character drama war movie," said first-time WGA nominee Boal. "The movie has been really good for me."

"It's amazing. We're still pinching ourselves that we're in the guild, so it's a huge thing for us to be recognized by its members for our work," said Neustadter and Weber in a statement Monday. "We truly couldn't be more excited and humbled by this honor and we're grateful to everyone who helped make it possible."

Joining Orci and Kurtzman in the adapted screenplay category are Scott Cooper for "Crazy Heart," based on the novel by Thomas Cobb; Nora Ephron for "Julie & Julia," based on the books "Julie & Julia" by Julie Powell and "My Life in France" by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme; Geoffrey Fletcher for "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," adapted from the novel "Push" by Sapphire; and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for "Up in the Air," based on the novel by Walter Kirn. Reitman was also nominated last week for a DGA award.

First-time writer-director Cooper was in Minneapolis braving 12-degree weather on a promotional tour for "Crazy Heart," a drama about a down-on-his-luck country singer, when he got the news about the WGA nomination.

"Who ever thought I would be nominated for anything?" said Cooper, who also is an actor. "I can't believe it. It means so much. I have been longtime admirers [of the fellow nominees] and for them to recognize me. . . . I know it sounds so trite but it's like you are living in a dream."

The writing team of Kurtzman and Orci, in a statement, thanked "all the closet WGA Trekkies for their sci-fi love."

Ephron, who had to juggle two books for her screenplay, was delighted to be recognized after all that work. "I am thrilled," she said. "This one was thorny. I don't think any screenplay is easy but this one, just getting the structure to work was tricky -- but fun."

"I will cherish this recognition and encouragement, especially since it is from other writers," said Fletcher in a statement. "I've been trying to find a place in the industry since I was quite young, so I want to urge those writers toiling away in obscurity to tell important stories and to keep honing and sharing their craft until that day comes -- no matter how difficult those stories may be."

The screenplays for the Weinstein Co.'s "Inglourious Basterds," "A Single Man" and "The Road," largely considered award season contenders, were not eligible for nomination because the writers -- Quentin Tarantino, Tom Ford and Joe Penhall, respectively -- are not members of the WGA.

Documentary screenplay nominees are Richard Trank for "Against the Tide," based on original material written by Trank and Rabbi Marvin Hier; Michael Moore for "Capitalism: A Love Story"; Mark Monroe for "The Cove"; Robert Stone for "Earth Days"; Chris Rock, Jeff Stilson, Lance Crouther and Chuck Sklar for "Good Hair"; and Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman for "Soundtrack for a Revolution."

Like the DGA, the WGA awards are a reliable bellwether for the Academy Awards. For the past several years, the WGA and the academy have agreed on their selections. Last year's winners were the screenplays for "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Milk."

The winners will be announced Feb. 20 at a gala ceremony at both the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel and the Hudson Theater in New York City.

susan.king@latimes.com

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