The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Why the WGA snubbed 'Inglourious Basterds' and 'A Single Man'

January 6, 2010 |  4:12 pm

The Wrap's Steve Pond has written a really smart post about one of the most badly reported showbiz stories in recent days. A variety of lightweight movie blogs, starting with Movieline, have been full of snarky posts about how the Weinstein Co., presumably because its pockets were empty, was hurting the chances of its top award season movies by not sending out screeners to the membership of the Writers Guild of America. Movieline's Kyle Buchanan, for example, claimed that it's "been near-impossible to score a WGA nomination without sending its membership a screener."

Inglourious-basterds-poster As is often the case, there was a Finkian germ of truth to the reports -- the Weinsteins indeed had not sent out screeners. But as Pond reveals, having actually done a little old-fashioned reporting, the Weinsteins didn't send out screeners because ... the company's top award season contenders -- namely "Inglourious Basterds," "A Single Man" and "The Road" -- weren't eligible for any WGA awards.

Why not? Since "Inglourious' " Quentin Tarantino isn't a member of the WGA and his film wasn't made under the guild's minimum basic agreement, his film isn't eligible. Likewise with "A Single Man," which was written by Tom Ford, who is not a WGA member. (Nor is Joe Penhall, who adapted "The Road.")

As Pond points out, the Directors Guild allows non-DGA productions to be nominated. From where I sit, it is long overdue for the WGA to adapt a similar policy. The WGA, which prides itself on its inclusiveness in so many areas, should open its doors to non-members at awards season. It would be the kind of magnanimous gesture that might serve as a reminder that the WGA rewards great writing, not just great writing that happened to pass muster because it came from a film that was made under a guild-sponsored collective bargaining agreement.

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