“Avatar” has been lauded for its technological wizardry and the all-encompassing movie experience it offers. As for the writing: not so much. But that hasn’t prevented the Writers Guild of America from nominating James Cameron, the movie’s writer and director, for best original screenplay. He’ll face off against Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for “(500) Days of Summer”; John Lucas and Scott More for the “The Hangover”; Mark Boal for “The Hurt Locker”; and Joel and Ethan Coen for “A Serious Man.”
The Writers Guild’s winner for best original screenplay often translates into Oscar gold; last year, Dustin Lance Black won both awards for “Milk.”
In the field of adapted screenplay, the nominees are “Crazy Heart,” by Scott Cooper, based on the novel by Thomas Cobb; “Julie and Julia,” screenplay by Nora Ephron, based on the books “Julie & Julia” by Julie Powell and “My Life in France” by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme; “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher, based on the novel “Push by Sapphire”; “Star Trek,” written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, based on the TV series “Star Trek”; and “Up in the Air,” screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, based on the novel by Walter Kirn.
For documentary screenplay, the Writers Guild gave some love to the largely ignored Michael Moore documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” Other nominees include Richard Trank for “Against the Tide”; Mark Monroe for “The Cove”; Robert Stone for “Earth Days”; Chris Rock and Jeff Stilson and Lance Crouther and Chuck Sklar for “Good Hair”; and Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman for “Soundtrack for a Revolution.”
The Writers Guild will bestow its honors Feb. 20 in untelevised and very long awards ceremonies in both New York and Los Angeles. The comedian Susie Essman, known to work blue, is the host.
The American Society of Cinematographers also announced its nominees for best cinematography on Monday. The nominees are: Barry Ackroyd for “The Hurt Locker”; Dion Beebe for “Nine”; Christian Berger, who will pick up an award on Monday night at the New York Critics Circle Awards for the black-and-white film “The White Ribbon”; Mauro Fiorefor for “Avatar”; and Robert Richardson for “Inglourious Basterds.” The winner will be announced on Feb. 27 at a gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.