Every year there is an interesting list of ineligible contenders for the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards. Sometimes it's because the film's production company was not a guild signatory (though these things can often be amended retroactively, if there is a will to do so). Other times it's because the writer is not a WGA member. Whatever the case, it's their rules, and they're not that unreasonable, so no reason to get too bent out of shape about it. HitFix has obtained a copy of the official WGA ballot for this year's awards, so let's see what didn't make the cut this year…
In the original screenplay category, which features 60 eligible contenders, the biggest Oscar player not on the list is Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb's “Selma.” That would have been a nice bump during the guild phase for a film that could be on track for big things at the Academy Awards, but it was not a signatory production. (1/6/15 UPDATE: Somehow over a month later, after being reminded by the studio, I'm realizing that I completely whiffed on this and didn't notice that “Birdman” is not eligible, either. No excuses. Just totally boned it. Bizarre.)
Also missing is Mike Leigh for “Mr. Turner.” The writer/director has only been nominated once by the guild, for “Secrets & Lies” nearly 20 years ago, but never since; I imagine he's not a guild member at this stage, but I'm not sure. He does have five Oscar nominations for writing, however, so it's never been a significant hiccup for him.
Other original scripts not on the list include John Michael McDonagh's “Calvary,” Justin Simien's “Dear White People” and Damián Szifrón's “Wild Tales” (foreign films rarely qualify).
On the adapted side of things, where there are 48 scripts listed, the biggest contender on the sidelines is Anthony McCarten's “The Theory of Everything.” But Working Title productions are always in this position; films like “About Time,” “Anna Karenina” and “Les Misérables,” to name a few, have been ineligible in years past. So no surprise there.
Also nearly always ineligible are animated productions, as the companies involved are not guild signatories. So both “The Boxtrolls” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” are absent from the adapted category. Other omissions include Andrew Bovell's “A Most Wanted Man” and Hossein Amini's “The Two Faces of January.”
All in all, it doesn't look to be a huge blip in terms of Oscar. “Mr. Turner,” “Selma” and “The Theory of Everything” are really the only ones likely to still make a case with the Academy, but their absence here will leave room for someone else. We'll find out who when the nominations are announced on Jan. 7.
The 67th annual WGA Awards will be held on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.