"The Artist," "Like Crazy," "Margin Call," "Shame" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" are among the films considered contenders for the two Oscar screenwriting awards – but they won't be in the running for the Writers Guild Awards, falling victim to the tighter qualifying rules that annually rule out a number of Oscar hopefuls.
Unlike most Hollywood guilds, which allow nominations to go to those who aren't members and those whose films are not made under guild guidelines, the Writers Guild of America restricts its awards to its members, or to scripts written for productions that are signatories to the guild's Minimum Basic Agreement.
Although foreign movies made under the rules of five affiliated international guilds can also qualify, WGA requirements regularly disqualify a number of low-budget productions and films made outside the United States.
Very few films released by the Weinstein Co., for instance, ever qualify for the WGA Awards; last year's Oscar winner "The King's Speech" did not, and this year the company's releases "The Artist" (above), "The Iron Lady" and "My Week With Marilyn" (right) are all ineligible.
Other films that have failed to qualify include Fox Searchlight's "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "Shame" (though the company's "The Tree of Life" and "The Descendants" are in the running), and Sony Pictures Classics's "Carnage," "The Skin I Live In" and "Take Shelter."
Also out of the picture: "Albert Nobbs," "Beginners," "Drive," "The Iron Lady" and "Rango."
Even films that would qualify must submit entry forms to the guild to become eligible.
According to In Contention's Kris Tapley, who first obtained copies of the WGA ballots, only 33 films qualified for the WGA's adapted screenplay category, and 55 for original screenplay.
Typically, about one-third as many screenplays qualify for the WGA Awards as the Oscars.
Going by the Gurus of Gold chart at Movie City News, four of the Top 10 Oscar contenders in the Original Screenplay category, and six of the top 12, are ineligible. The Adapted Screenplay category takes less of a hit, with two of the top 10 ineligible.
Two years ago, only four of the 10 WGA nominees received Oscar writing nominations; last year, six out of the 10 guild nominees won Oscar nods.
But the only Oscar winner not to at least receive a WGA nomination during that time was David Seidler for "The King's Speech."