‘The Descendants,’ ‘Midnight in Paris’ Are Tops With Writers Guild

Alexander Payne wins for “The Descendants,” Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris”; “Modern Family” and “Breaking Bad” win TV awards

"The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris" took home the top film awards from the Writers Guild of America on Sunday night.

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash won for their adapted screenplay to "The Descendants," while Woody Allen was honored for his original screenplay for "Midnight in Paris." Both are among the favorites for the screenwriting awards at next weekend's Academy Awards.

Nat Faxon and Alexander Payne and Jim Rash(Left: Faxon, Payne and Rash accepting their awards; photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

In the television categories, "Modern Family" and "Breaking Bad" were named best comedy and drama series, respectively.

"Homeland" was named best new series, beating out "Episodes," "Game of Thrones," The Killing" and "New Girl," the last of which stars the WGA Awards show's co-host, Zooey Deschanel. (Joel McHale hosted with her.)

Winners in the long-form TV categories, which had only two nominees each, were the HBO shows "Too Big to Fail" for adapted, and "Cinema Verite" for original.

Other awards went to "The Colbert Report," Jimmy Kimmel's "After the Academy Awards" special and the "Homer the Father" episode of "The Simpsons," which had four of the six nominees in the TV animation category.

When "General Hospital" won in the daytime drama category, Karen Harris pointed out that for the second year in a row, ABC had decided not to buy WGA Awards tickets for its nominated daytime writers.

While both "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris" reinforced their position as strong contenders or even favorites for the Academy Awards' writing honors, a number of Oscar-nominated films were not eligible for the WGA Awards. Guild rules restrict eligible screenplays to those written under the guild's Minimum Basic Agreement, or under similar agreements from one of five affiliated international guilds.

Of the five nominees for original screenplay, only "Bridesmaids" and "Midnight in Paris" also received Oscar nominations. The WGA also went for "50/50," "Win Win" and "Young Adult" in the category. The Academy's Writers Branch opted for "The Artist," "Margin Call" and "A Separation," none of which were eligible under WGA rules. 

In the Adapted Screenplay category, the WGA and Academy matched on three out of five: "The Descendants," "Hugo" and "Moneyball." The WGA rounded out the field with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and "The Help," while the Academy went for "The Ides of March" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," the latter of which was ineligible.

The WGA win completed a very good weekend for "The Descendants," which had been largely bypassed in awards season since it was named Best Motion Picture, Drama at the Golden Globes. On Saturday, it won the Scripter Award for the best adaptation, and the ACE Eddie Award for the best edited dramatic film.

The WGA, West held its awards show at the same time as the WGA, East. In something of a timing snafu, the show in New York handed out the two film awards a few minutes before the West Coast show, leading to word of the winners spreading before the awards had been announced in Los Angeles.

The WGA also handed out one Honorary Service Award, two Special Achievement Awards and two Laurel Awards. The service award, the Morgan Cox Award, went to Patric M. Verrone. The Paul Selvin Award went to "The Help" writer-director Tate Taylor, and the Animation Writers Caucus Animation Award went to Dwayne McDuffie and Earl Kress.

The Paddy Chayevsky Laurel Award for Television was given to Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick. The Laurel Award for Screen went to Eric Roth.

The winners:

Screen categories:
Original Screenplay: "Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen
Adapted Screenplay: "The Descendants," written by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
Documentary Screenplay: "Better This World," Katie Galloway and Kelly Duane de la Vega

Television categories:
Drama Series: "Breaking Bad," written by Sam Caitlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schaunz and Moira Welley-Beckett
Comedy Series: "Modern Family," written by Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Carol Leifer, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Dan O'Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Brad Walsh, Ilana Wernick, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker
New Series: "Homeland," written by Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Gideon Raff, Meredith Stiehm
Episodic Drama: (tie) "Box Cutter" ("Breaking Bad"), written by Vince Gilligan, and "The Good Soldier" ("Homeland"), written by Henry Bromell
Episodic Comedy: "Caught in the Act" ("Modern Family"), written by Steven Levitan and Jeffrey Richman
Long Form – Original: "Cinema Verite," written by David Seltzer
Long Form – Adapted: "Too Big to Fail," written by Peter Gould
Animation: "Homer the Father" ("The Simpsons"), written by Joel H. Cohen
Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) Series: "The Colbert Report," written by Michael Brumm, Stephen Colbert, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Dan Guterman, Peter Gwinn, Jay Katsir, Barry Julien, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Tom Purcell, Meredith Scardino, Scott Sherman and Max Werner
Comedy/Variety – Music, Awards, Tributes – Specials: "After the Academy Awards," Jimmy Kimmel, written by Gary Greenberg, Molly McNearney, Tom Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, John N. Huss, Sal Iacono, Eric Immerman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jonathan Kimmel, Jacob Lentz, Danny Ricker and Richard G. Rosner.
Daytime Drama: "General Hospital," written by Meg Bennett, Nathan Fissell, David Goldschmid, Robert Guza, Jr., Karen Harris, Elizabeth Korte, Mary Sue Price, Michele Val Jean, Susan Wald and Tracey Thomson
Children's – Episodic and Specials: "Hero of the Shadows" ("Supah Ninjas"), written by Leo Chu and Eric S. Garcia
Documentary – Current Events: "Top Secret America" ("Frontline"), written by Michael Kirk and Mike Wiser
Documentary – Other Than Current Events: "Wiki Secrets" ("Frontline"), written by Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith
News – Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin or Breaking Report: "Educating Sergeant Pantzke" ("Frontline"), written by John Maggio and Martin Smith
News – Analysis, Feature or Commentary: "Doctor Hot Spot" ("Frontline"), written by Thomas Jennings

Radio categories:
Documentary: "2010 Year in Review," written by Gail Lee
News – Regularly Scheduled or Breaking Report: "Portraits of a Terrorist: Who Is Osama Bin Laden?," written by Gail Lee
News – Analysis, Feature or Commentary: "Justice in a Time of Terror," written by Andrew Cohen and Rob Mank

Promotional Writing and Graphic Adaptation categories:
On-Air Promotion (Radio or Television): "Fairytale" ("Today Show"), written by Carol M. Sullivan
Television Graphic Animation: "CBS News Aninmations" ("CBS News"), graphic animation by David Rosen

New Media and Videogame categories:
Outstanding Achievement in Writing New Media: "Aim High," episodes 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, written by Heath Corson and Richie Keen
Outstanding Achievement in Writing Derivative New Media: "The Walking Dead" webseries, written by John Esposito and Greg Nicotero
Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing: "Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception," written by Amy Hennig