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'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Argo,' 'West of Memphis' among WGA nominees

Nominees are announced for the Writers Guild of America Awards' film prizes. Others include writers of 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower,' 'Flight,' 'Looper.'

January 05, 2013|By Susan King, Los Angeles Times
  • Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as Sam of "Moonrise Kingdom."
Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman as Sam of "Moonrise Kingdom." (Niko Tavernise / Focus Features )

The scripts of "Zero Dark Thirty," "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook" are among the nominees for Writers Guild of America Awards for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen in 2012.

Nominees announced Friday in the original screenplay category are John Gatins for "Flight," Rian Johnson for "Looper," Paul Thomas Anderson for "The Master," Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for "Moonrise Kingdom" and Mark Boal for "Zero Dark Thirty."

"It's a huge honor to be put in such heady company of fellow writers," Johnson said in a statement.

Vying for adapted screenplay are Chris Terrio for "Argo," based on a selection from "The Master of Disguise" by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired magazine article "The Great Escape" by Joshuah Bearman; David Magee for "Life of Pi," based on the novel by Yann Martel; Tony Kushner for "Lincoln," based in part on the book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin; Stephen Chbosky for "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," which is based on his book; and David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook," based on the novel by Matthew Quick.

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"I can't think of a prouder moment in my professional life than the day I got my WGA card, because it meant inclusion in a community of peers," Terrio said in a statement. "I'm honored to be recognized by them."

Nominated for documentary screenplay are Sarah Burns and David McMahon and Ken Burns for "The Central Park Five," Kirby Dick for "The Invisible War," Alex Gibney for "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," Malik Bendjelloul for "Searching for Sugar Man," Brian Knappenberger for "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists" and Amy Berg and Billy McMillin for "West of Memphis."

Receiving a WGA nomination doesn't necessarily translate into Oscar gold. Though last year's WGA winners — Woody Allen for his original screenplay for "Midnight in Paris" and Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash for adapted screenplay for "The Descendants" — did go on to win Academy Awards, several of the WGA nominees failed to earn Oscar nods, including Tate Taylor for his adapted screenplay for "The Help."

Several high-profile screenplays didn't make the nomination list this year because of guild regulations. To be eligible for a WGA nomination, feature films had to be exhibited theatrically for one week in Los Angeles in 2012 and written under the guild's Minimum Basic Agreement or under a bona fide collective bargaining agreement of the Writers Guilds in Canada and Great Britain, the Irish Playwrights & Screenwriters Guild or the New Zealand Writers Guild.

Among the high-profile screenplays excluded from contention were "Les Misérables," "Django Unchained," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Amour."

But being left out of the WGA race doesn't close the door on Oscar consideration. Two years ago, David Seidler's original screenplay for "The King's Speech" didn't qualify for the WGA awards, but he went on to win the Academy Award.

Winners will be announced at the 2013 Writers Guild Awards on Feb. 17 during simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York; besides the film awards, honors will also be handed out for television, new media, video games, news, radio and promotional writing. The L.A. ceremony will be held at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live.

susan.king@latimes.com

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