The Writers Guild of America has done it again.
"The King's Speech," "Winter's Bone," "Toy Story 3," "Blue Valentine" and "Another Year" may be among the most acclaimed film scripts of the year, and they may well become contenders in the writing categories at the Oscars, but you won't hear any of their names called when the WGA Awards nominations are announced on January 4.
They've all been left off the list of eligible films because of guild rules that restrict nominations to films that are written for productions that are signatories to the guild's Minimum Basic Agreement, or the agreements of several affiliated international guilds.
In other words, the Writers Guild Awards are not set up to indiscriminately honor the best films of the year — their purpose is to honor the best films produced by WGA members, or under WGA guidelines.
Last year, that meant that several of the highest-profile films in the Oscar race, including "Inglourious Basterds," "A Single Man," "An Education" and "District 9" weren't eligible for WGA Awards. Only four of the 10 WGA nominees went on to receive Oscar nods.
This year the disconnect might not be quite as dramatic, with contenders like "The Social Network," "The Kids Are All Right," "Black Swan," "127 Hours," "Inception," "The Town" and "The Fighter" all WGA eligible.
But according to a copy of the online ballot, "The King's Speech" and "Winter's Bone" are not eligible – while of the year's animated films, only "Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole" passed muster with the WGA, leaving out "Toy Story 3" and "How to Train Your Dragon."
Also missing from the WGA ballot: "The Ghost Writer," "Nowhere Boy," "The Way Back," "Never Let Me Go," "Love & Other Drugs," "Made in Dagenham," "Green Zone," "Biutiful" and "Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World."
In the original screenplay category, 43 films qualified; for adapted screenplay, 33. Those numbers are slightly down from last year's totals of 47 and 36, respectively, and well below the 200-plus films that have qualified for the Oscars.
The WGA eligible films:
ALL GOOD THINGS
FRANKIE & ALICE
HOW DO YOU KNOW?
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
LETTERS TO JULIET
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
MOTHER AND CHILD
THE OTHER GUYS
OUR FAMILY WEDDING
WELCOME TO THE RILEYS
YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
THE EXTRA MAN
FOR COLORED GIRLS
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 1
I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS
IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY
JACK GOES BOATING
THE KARATE KID
THE LAST SONG
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA'HOOLE
LET ME IN
LIKE DANDELION DUST
THE NEXT THREE DAYS
PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF
PRINCE OF PERSIA: SANDS OF TIME
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE
THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE