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Writers Guild nominations analysis: Another beating for 'Unbroken'

Writers Guild nominations analysis: Another beating for 'Unbroken'
A scene from "Unbroken." (Universal Pictures)

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) always offers some quirks when it comes to forecasting the Oscars as the guild disqualifies many movies that will eventually wind up on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' list. Two reasons for ineligibility: the writers aren't WGA members or the film's production company was not a guild signatory.

This year, the WGA left out "Birdman," "Selma" and "Mr. Turner" (original) and "The Theory of Everything" (adapted). Here's what was nominated and how it might play out in the writing categories when Oscar nominations are announced next Thursday.



The nominees:

"Boyhood," Richard Linklater

"Foxcatcher," E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

"The Grand Budapest Hotel," Wes Anderson; story by Anderson & Hugo Guinness

"Nightcrawler," Dan Gilroy

"Whiplash," Damien Chazelle

Analysis: "Whiplash" will land in adapted screenplay for the Oscars, with the academy moving it there because the movie came from a short film Chazelle shot to convince financiers that he could do the job. The other four movies remain solid bets with the academy and will be joined by "Birdman," which wasn't eligible here because its writers aren't WGA members.

Overall, it's an excellent slate, setting up one of the year's most intriguing races that could go any number of ways both here and at the Oscars.


The nominees:

"American Sniper," Jason Hall

"Gone Girl," Gillian Flynn

"Guardians of the Galaxy," James Gunn and Nicole Perlman

"The Imitation Game," Graham Moore

"Wild," Nick Hornby

Analysis: The nomination for "Guardians" rated as the day's nicest surprise. Like all Marvel movies, the plot was a bit overstuffed, but the movie possessed a self-aware, subversive streak that made it feel positively anarchic when compared to many other comic book movies. Somewhere, this is happening right now.

"Unbroken's" absence is notable, given the profile of the Laura Hillenbrand source material and the pedigree of the three credited writing teams -- William Nicholson, Richard LaGravenese and the Coen brothers. But WGA voters don't like movies written by teams, and "Unbroken" bears no kind of authorial stamp.

That's not the case with Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's stoner detective novel "Inherent Vice," which was shut out here and with the American Society of Cinematographers today as well. The movie's Oscar prospects remain dim.

Given its notoriety, it's still possible "Unbroken" could win an Oscar nomination. But, more likely, academy voters will sub in "Theory" for "Guardians," with "Whiplash" moving over to take the spot held here by "Sniper."

Twitter: @GlennWhipp