Christopher Nolan's "Inception" and Aaron Sorkin's "The Social Network" took home top screenplay honors at Saturday evening's Writers Guild of America awards.
Nolan's work beat out the scripts for "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The Kids Are All Right" and "Please Give" in the original screenplay category. "The King's Speech" and "Another Year" — Academy Award nominees for best original screenplay — were ineligible in the WGA category under guild rules.
Sorkin's script bested those for "127 Hours," "I Love You Phillip Morris," "The Town" and "True Grit" in the adapted screenplay race. Oscar nominees such as "Toy Story 3" and "Winter's Bone" were ineligible in the category under guild rules.
In accepting his award, Nolan touched on the exclusion of big-name films that were kept out of contention.
"Nine years ago I had a lot of success for 'Memento.' It was excluded," he said. "Nothing is more important than recognition from my peers. There were some notables left off the list this year."
"I'm not going to name them, for fear that it boosts their chances at the other show," he joked, referring to the Feb. 27 Academy Awards. "I hope next year the person who stands up here can give thanks without qualification."
Mark Boal, who won an Oscar last year for best original screenplay for "The Hurt Locker," was in attendance with "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow; they presented the awards to Nolan and Sorkin.
"You can imagine how I feel to get recognition like this," Sorkin said. "I wrote a good screenplay, but David Fincher made a great movie."
In the documentary film category, the guild honored "Inside Job," produced, written and directed by Charles Ferguson and co-written by Chad Beck and Adam Bolt. In accepting his award for the movie about the financial crisis, Ferguson, clad in jeans and sneakers, quipped, "In the grand tradition of documentary filmmakers, I'm severely underdressed."
Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal presented the Laurel Award for Screen (honoring lifetime achievement in outstanding writing for movies), to Steven Zaillian, writer of films including "Schindler's List," "Gangs of New York" and "Awakenings."
On the TV front, "Murphy Brown" star Candice Bergen presented the show's creator, Diane English, with the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award, which is bestowed on the WGA member who "has made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer."
The tone of the evening was light, with numerous presenters making jokes about the ceremony, which is less glitzy than other Hollywood guild awards and isn't shown on TV. A parallel ceremony is held in New York simultaneously for East Coast WGA members.
Martin Short, on stage with Catherine O'Hara to bestow the Best Comedy/Variety TV Series award to Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report," joked that there's "no bigger high than appearing on an untelevised award show. Only difference between you people and pharmaceutical-grade morphine is morphine doesn't judge."
"Modern Family" was named best comedy series and "Mad Men" was named best drama series.
Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, on hand to present writing awards in the documentary category, joked that the event was "the only award show where [the invite] says 'self-parking in Hollywood & Highland.' Stay classy Hollywood!"