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'Hangover' gets a WGA nomination, but don't get too excited yet

January 11, 2010 |  1:16 pm

Hango Screenwriting awards -- from the Writers Guild of America as well as at the Oscars and Golden Globes -- usually provide some of the season’s better drama. There’s always a fierce debate of some kind or another about just what it means to be original or adapted (the controversy over “Syriana” a few years ago was almost more interesting than anything in the movie) and at least one or two left-field choices that would never make higher-profile categories such as best director or picture.

This year brings an extra twist. As The Wrap’s Steve Pond has been pointing out, a number of requirements at the WGA -- some new, some longstanding – are keeping some of the favored scripts of 2009 out of the group’s awards. Most notably, “Inglourious Basterds,” “Up” and  “An Education” -- none of which was written under the group's Minimum Basic Agreement -- are not eligible.

All of that makes this morning’s nominations announcement from the WGA both more interesting -- and less revealing.

A number of the shortlisted films come as no surprise -- there’s “Avatar,” “Hurt Locker,” “(500) Days of Summer” and “A Serious Man” on the original side and “Precious” and “Up in the Air” on the adapted side.

But the ineligibility of several contenders has allowed some dark horses to sneak in. On the original side, that means “The Hangover,” which gets its first non-Golden Globe nomination. And on the adapted side, the fact that neither “An Education” nor “A Single Man” can qualify has turned things into a veritable free-for-all, as “Crazy Heart” (a movie whose screenplay few had been talking about), “Julie & Julia” (ditto) and “Star Trek” (taking, apparently the sci-fi slot that the Globes had given to “District 9”) all make the cut.

Of course all this will change when the Oscars come and "Basterds," “Up” and “Education” all unquestionably make their respective shortlists. (The WGA is often not that predictive of Oscar nominations even in looser times; last year the two award bodies shared only once choice in the original category.)

"The Hangover" probably won't be there when everyone dons tuxedos at the Kodak and Pixar and Tarantino step back into the mix. But for now, at least, it's fun to entertain the thought of  raunchy Vegas coming to starchy Hollywood.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Ed Helms, left, and Bradley Cooper in "The Hangover." Credit: Frank Masi, Warner Bros.

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We picked "The Hangover" with high expectations and only watched it to its conclusion out of morbid curiosity. We found few laughs and were completely baffled by the accolades it received. We got 15 minutes into "500 Days of Summer" before realizing any more time spent were life minutes we'd never recover.


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