For me, the biggest omission among the WGA nominees for Best Original Screenplay was Martin McDonagh‘s In Bruges — a deliciously offbeat screenplay that wasn’t too dark or comedic, and was genuinely warm and romantic besides.
Due respect to the reservations expressed today by Defamer‘s Kyle Buchanan, but there are simple reasons why Charlie Kaufman‘s Synecdoche and Jenny Lumet‘s Rachel Getting Married were passed over for Best Original Screenplay. One, Synecdoche was overly permeated with Kaufman’s trademark deathhouse gloom and two, Lumet’s screenplay didn’t render enough bombast and sword thrusts in the big-money confrontation scene between Anne Hathaway and Debra Winger. They start to get into the “why did you leave me with him?” issue, Winger freaks and slaps and then Hathaway runs out — not satisfying!
The Best Original Screenplay noms were for Burn After Reading (Joel & Ethan Coen), Milk (Dustin Lance Black), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Woody Allen), The Visitor (Tom McCarthy) and The Wrestler (Robert Siegel).
Given the general understanding at this stage that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is basically Forrest Gump with cosmetic/atmospheric changes, I’m a little surprised that screenplay author Eric Roth (and I don’t mean to slight the guy given his bad luck at the hands of Bernard Madoff) was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Adapted from Gump, do they mean?
The other Best Adapted Screenplay nominees are The Dark Knight (Jonathan and Christopher Nolan; story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer), Doubt (John Patrick Shanley), Frost/Nixon (Peter Morgan) and Slumdog Millionaire (Simon Beaufoy).