I didn't bother to predict the DGA or PGA nominations because, frankly, who cares? But the WGAs have always been a bit more interesting to me so let's take a stab at them. But first, a look at the movies that are ineligible this year for one reason or another.
Original: Adam, Antichrist, Broken Embraces, Capitalism: A Love Story, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Inglourious Basterds, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, Me and Orson Welles, Moon, Ponyo, The Princess and the Frog, Trucker, Up, The White Ribbon
Adapted: Angels & Demons, Coco Before Chanel, The Damned United, District 9, An Education, Everybody’s Fine, Fantastic Mr. Fox, In the Loop, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Red Cliff, The Road, A Single Man, That Evening Sun, A Woman in Berlin
With that settled, here are my predictions for Best Original Screenplay:
(500) Days of Summer - Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Bright Star - Jane Campion
The Hurt Locker - Mark Boal
A Serious Man - Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Sugar - Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden
It's tough to ignore the box office goliath that is Avatar here but James Cameron's screenplay isn't its strong suit. I realize that Titanic got a nomination here but that was a classy period piece. I think the WGA snubs Cameron and lets others have their day... Jon Lucas and Scott Moore's The Hangover is a close call but there were several other comedies this year with more graceful screenplays, such as Judd Apatow's Funny People, Greg Mottola's Adventureland, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick's Zombieland and Dave Eggers & Vendela Vida's Away We Go. None of them had quite the same fresh perspective and perverse insight as (500) Days of Summer though... I gave Two Lovers some consideration, as well as The Messenger, with both being critics' darlings, but in the end, I gave that spot to Sugar. At the end of the day, it was the better movie. I think if The White Ribbon were eligible it would snag that 5th slot so instead I gave it to a wholly different foreign language film... If there are any other serious contenders, they'd have to be Nancy Meyers for It's Complicated, and Lynn Shelton for Humpday, which was rather brilliant. I think Bright Star gets a nod here since Campion has won the award before in 1993 for The Piano.
Moving on, here are my predictions for Best Adapted Screenplay:
The Blind Side - John Lee Hancock
Precious - Geoffrey Fletcher
Star Trek - Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci
Up in the Air - Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner
Where the Wild Things Are - Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers
There's a lot of prestige sitting on the sidelines here but what can you do? Invictus, The Lovely Bones and Nine were all major letdowns, critically as much as commercially. The second tier of flopped "prestige" pics include Brothers and The Soloist... The Informant! is a close call here but that movie seems to have been forgotten, and those who remember immediately recall Matt Damon's performance before Scott Z. Burns' screenplay... The Last Station has to be in play here, as well as two more likely nominees in Crazy Heart and Julie and Julia, but for some reason, I think the WGA honors the moneymakers like The Blind Side and Star Trek. Where the Wild Things Are is my hip arthouse pick.
If I hit 7/10, I'll be happy. It's a very unpredictable field when you take into account all the ineligible screenplays. Best of luck to all the writers out there!