January 3 marks the day that Writers Guild nominations will be announced–and Academy ballots are due. It’s not surprising that scruffy indie “Beasts of the Southern Wild” should be left off the Writers Guild ballot. The WGA always leaves off films that were deemed ineligible, often foreign (“A Separation”), indie (“Pulp Fiction”) or animated players (“Up”) who either aren’t guild signatories or didn’t pony up to get qualified.
But for Working Title not to qualify William Nicholson’s script for big-budget “Les Miserables” is more surprising. (The production is not a signatory to the guild.) In this case Writers Guild cred could be crucial to an eventual adapted screenplay nomination, because the movie is perceived as a version of the stage musical that is all sung. The painstaking changes and adaptations that made the movie possible could use some attention.
“The Artist” and “The King’s Speech” both managed to make it to the Best Picture Oscar without the benefit of a WGA nomination. Thus the Weinstein Co. doesn’t care about getting the extra spotlight for such films as “Quartet” and French Oscar entry “The Intouchables.” TWC auteur Quentin Tarantino, for one, has never joined the Guild, which has not hurt his chances with the Academy in the past. He finally joined the DGA this year, which does nominate deserving filmmakers who aren’t signatories, and happily delivered the first dripping wet screening of “Django Unchained” to that group.
Among possible 2012 Academy writer nominees films not WGA eligible are foreign films from Sony Pictures Classics’ (Austrian Oscar entry “Amour,” from Michael Haneke and Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone”) and Lionsgate/Summit (“The Impossible”), Brit contenders Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Anna Karenina,” and “The Deep Blue Sea,” indie films from Martin McDonagh (“Seven Psychopaths”), Ava DuVernay (“Middle of Nowhere”), Sarah Polley (“Take This Waltz”) and Lynn Shelton (“Your Sister’s Sister”) as well as Disney/Pixar’s animated “Brave.”