‘Argo,’ ‘Lincoln,’ ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Score Writers Guild Nominations

With several top contenders disqualified by WGA rules, the guild opts for a slate that also includes "Looper," "Life of Pi" and "The Master"

"Lincoln," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Argo" and "Silver Linings Playbook" are among the nominees for the Writers Guild of America's top film awards, the WGA, West and WGA, East announced on Friday.

In the Best Original Screenplay category, "Zero Dark Thirty" will be competing with "Flight," "Looper," "The Master" and "Moonrise Kingdom."

Claire Folger/Warner Bros.In the Adapted Screenplay category, "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Argo" will go up against "Life of Pi" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

(Left: "Argo" writer Chris Terrio with director/star Ben Affleck.)

The nominations contained few surprises, with even "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" being considered a strong contender for a nomination.

Possible nominees that were overlooked include "Arbitrage," "Skyfall," "Bernie," "This Is 40," "The Sessions" and "The Dark Knight Rises."

The nominated screenplays were selected from a group of eligible films far smaller than the group that qualified for the Academy Awards. WGA rules restrict its awards to films written by members or written for productions that are made under the jurisdiction of the guild's Minimum Basic Agreement, or the agreement of several affiliated international guilds.

Also read: 'Django Unchained,' 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Left Off WGA Ballot

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark BoalEver year, the restrictions knock out a number of scripts that would otherwise be in contention. In the adapted category, this year's ineligible films include "Les Miserables," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Anna Karenina" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." On the original-screenplay side, "Django Unchained," "Seven Psychopaths," "Amour," "Rust and Bone" and "The Impossible" all failed to qualify.

(Right: Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal on the set of "Zero Dark Thirty.")

Overall, 39 adaptations qualified for the WGA Awards, compared to 108 at the Oscars; 58 original screenplays made the cut, compared to the Academy's field of 165.

The number of films ineligible each year for the WGA Awards makes it the major guild award with the least correlation to Oscar nominations.  On the other hand, it has a pretty good track record matching winners, with 15 of the last 20 WGA winners going on to take home Academy Awards.

In the documentary category, the WGA recognized three films currently on the Oscar shortlist — "The Invisible War," "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" and "Searching for Sugar Man" — along with "The Central Park Five," "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists" and "West of Memphis."

The nominees:

Flight, Written by John Gatins; Paramount Pictures
Looper, Written by Rian Johnson; TriStar Pictures
The Master, Written by Paul Thomas Anderson; The Weinstein Company
Moonrise Kingdom, Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola; Focus Features
Zero Dark Thirty, Written by Mark Boal; Columbia Pictures  
Argo, Screenplay by Chris Terrio;
Based on a selection from The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired Magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman; Warner Bros. Pictures
Life of Pi, Screenplay by David Magee;
Based on the novel by Yann Martel; 20th Century Fox
Lincoln, Screenplay by Tony Kushner;
Based in part on the book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin; DreamWorks Pictures
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Screenplay by Stephen Chbosky;
Based on his book; Summit Entertainment
Silver Linings Playbook, Screenplay by David O. Russell;
Based on the novel by Matthew Quick; The Weinstein Company
The Central Park Five, Written by Sarah Burns and David McMahon and Ken Burns; Sundance Selects
The Invisible War, Written by Kirby Dick; Cinedigm Entertainment Group
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, Written by Alex Gibney; HBO Documentary Films
Searching for Sugar Man, Written by Malik Bendejelloul; Sony Pictures Classics
We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists, Written by Brian Knappenberger; Cinetic Media
West of Memphis, Written by Amy Berg & Billy McMillin; Sony Pictures Classics