Before Hollywood's biggest stars deliver their acceptance speeches at Sunday's Academy Awards, the 2013 Writers Guild Awards have honored the folks who supply A-list actors and actresses with words. The 65th annual ceremony kicked off Sunday, celebrating the best and the brightest behind the scenes — and behind the pen — in television, film, and beyond in 2012.
But there were few surprises at the awards — Mark Boal picked up his second WGA win for Zero Dark Thirty (he won his first for Hurt Locker in 2010) while television's critical darlings, Breaking Bad and Louie proved to be victorious.
Who else was a big winner at the WGA awards? See below to find out!
MOTION PICTURE CATEGORIES
Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal; Columbia Pictures
Argo, screenplay by Chris Terrio; based on a selection from The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez and the Wired magazine article “The Great Escape” by Joshuah Bearman; Warner Bros. Pictures
Searching for Sugar Man, written by Malik Bendejelloul; Sony Pictures Classics
Breaking Bad, Written by Sam Catlin, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett; AMC
Louie, Written by Pamela Adlon, Vernon Chatman, Louis C.K.; FX
Girls, Written by Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Lena Dunham, Sarah Heyward, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jenni Konner, Deborah Schoeneman, Dan Sterling; HBO
Mad Men (AMC), Written by Semi Chellas and Matthew Weiner, "The Other Woman"
LONG FORM – ORIGINAL
Hatfields & McCoys (History Channel), Teleplay by Ted Mann and Ronald Parker, Story by Bill Kerby and Ted Mann, Nights Two and Three
LONG FORM – ADAPTED
Game Change (HBO), Written by Danny Strong, Based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
Modern Family (ABC), Written By Elaine Ko; ABC, "Virgin Territory"
COMEDY/VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) — SERIES
Portlandia, Written by Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Karey Dornetto, Jonathan Krisel, Bill Oakley
COMEDY/VARIETY — MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES — SPECIALS
66th Annual Tony Awards, Written by Dave Boone, Special Material by Paul Greenberg; Opening and Closing Songs by David Javerbaum, Adam Schlesinger; CBS
CHILDREN'S – EPISODIC & SPECIALS
Sesame Street (PBS), Written by Christine Ferraro, "The Good Sport"
CHILDREN'S — LONG FORM OR SPECIAL
"Girl vs. Monster," Story by Annie De Young; Teleplay by Annie De Young and Ron McGee; Disney Channel
The Simpsons, Written by David Mandel & Brian Kelley; Fox, "Ned and Edna's Blend Agenda"
The Young & the Restless, Written by Amanda Beall, Jeff Beldner, Brent Boyd, Susan Dansby, Janice Ferri Esser, Jay Gibson, Scott Hamner, Maria Kanelos, Natalie Minardi Slater, Beth Milstein, Michael Montgomery, Anne Schoettle, Linda Schreiber, Lisa Seidman, Sarah K. Smith, Christopher J. Whitesell, Teresa Zimmerman; CBS
DOCUMENTARY — CURRENT EVENTS
Frontline, Written by Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria; PBS, "Money, Power and Wall Street: Episode One"
DOCUMENTARY — OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS
Nova, Written by Randall MacLowry; PBS, "The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time"
NEWS — REGULALRY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT
"Tragedy in Colorado: The Movie Theatre Massacre," Written by Lisa Ferri, Joel Siegel; ABC News
NEWS — REGULARLY SCHEDULED OR BREAKING REPORT
"World News This Year 2011," Written by Darren Reynolds; ABC News Radio
NEWS — ANALYSIS, FEATURE OR COMMENTARY
"Dishin Digital," Written by Robert Hawley, WCBS-AM
PROMOTIONAL WRITING AND GRAPHIC ANIMATION CATEGORIES
ON-AIR PROMOTION (RADIO OR TELEVISION)
"Partners," Written by Dan A. Greenberger, CBS
TELEVISION GRAPHIC ANIMATION
Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, Animation by Bob Pook; CBS, "The Oscars"
NEW MEDIA AND VIDEOGAME CATEGORIES
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN WRITING DERIVATIVE NEW MEDIA
The Walking Dead: Cold Storage, Written by John Esposito (amctv.com) – “Hide And Seek,” “Keys to the Kingdom,” “The Chosen Ones,” “Parting Shots”
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN WRITING ORIGINAL NEW MEDIA
Jack In A Box, Written by Michael Cyril Creighton (jackinaboxsite.com) – “The Compromises, Episode 1,” “The Pest, Episode 3,” The Snake, Episode 4,” “The Bonding, Episode 6,” “The Future, Episode 7/Series Finale”
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN VIDEOGAME WRITING
Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, Scriptwriting by Richard Farrese, Jill Murray; Ubisoft
What do you think of this year's winners? Let us know in the comments!
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes.
With each outing in his evolving filmmaking career actor-turned-director Ben Affleck has amped up the scope. Gone Baby Gone was a character drama woven into a hard-boiled mystery. The Town saw Affleck dabble in action pulling off bank heists many compared to the expertise of Heat. In Argo the director pulls off his most daring effort melding one part caper comedy and two parts edge-of-your-seat political thriller into an exhilarating theatrical experience.
At the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 anti-Shah militants stormed the U.S. embassy and captured 52 American hostages. Six managed to escape the raid finding refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home. Within hours the militants began a search for the missing Americans sifting through shredded paperwork for even the smallest bit of evidence. Under pressure by the ticking clock the CIA worked quickly to formulate a plan to covertly rescue the six embassy workers. Despite a lengthy list of possibilities only Tony Mendez (Affleck) had a plan just enticing enough to unsuspecting Iranian officials to work: the CIA would fake a Hollywood movie shoot.
There's nothing in Argo or Affleck's portrayal of Mendez that would tell you the technical operations officer has the imagination to conjure his master plan — Affleck perhaps to differentiate himself from the past plays his character with so much restraint he looks dead in the eyes — but when the Hollywood hijinks swing into full motion so does Argo. Mendez hooks up with Planet of the Apes makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to convince all of Hollywood that their sci-fi blockbuster "Argo " is readying for production. With enough promotional material concept art and press coverage Mendez and his team can convince the Iranian government they're a legit operation. A location scout in Tehran will be their method of extracting the bunkered down escapees.
Without an interesting lead to draw us in Affleck lets his eclectic ensemble do the heavy lifting. For the most part it works. Argo is basically two movies — Goodman and Arkin lead the Ocean's 11-esque half and Affleck takes the reigns when its time to get the six — another who's who of character actors including Tate Donovan Clea Duvall Scoot McNairy and Rory Cochrane — through the terrifying security of the Iranian airport. Arkin steals the show as a fast talking Hollywood type complete with year-winning catchphrase ("ArGo f**k yourself!) while McNairy adds a little more humanity to the spy mission when his character butts heads with Mendez. The split lessens the impact of each section but the tension in the escape is so high so taut that there's never a moment to check out.
Reality is on Affleck's side his camera floating through crowds of protestors and the streets of Tehran — a warscape where anything can happen. Each angle he chooses heightens the terror which starts to close in on the covert escape as they drift further and further from their homebase. Argo is a complete package with the '70s production design knowing when to play goofy (the fake movie's wild sci-fi designs) and when to remind us that problems took eight more steps to fix then they do today. Alexandre Desplat's score finds balance in haunting melodies and energetic pulses.
Part of Argo's charm is just how unreal the entire operation really was. To see the men and women involved go through with a plan they know could result in death. It's a suspenseful adventure and while there's not much in the way of character to cling to the visceral experience tends to be enough.
Based on the best-selling book of the same name Fast Food Nation has three intertwined stories revolving around the fast food industry. Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear) is a corporate marketing guy assigned to put a positive spin on the bad news that fecal traces has been found in the meat. He goes to the meat factory to investigate and doesn’t like what he sees but no one offers him a viable solution. Then there’s Raul (Wilmer Valderrama) and Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno) Mexican immigrants who cross the border illegally. The only job they can get is in the meat factory. She bears with demeaning sexual advances while he faces the unhealthy and dangerous conditions to try for the American Dream. Finally we meet Amber (Ashley Johnson) who works in a local franchise. She’s just a high school girl trying to pay for her car insurance. This isn’t her future but it dominates her present. The corporate story is a comedy about ineffective management and media spin. The immigrants’ story is a hard drama about a bad life. Amber’s story straddles both lines--a slacker teen comedy but also introspective about what the job is doing to her soul. It may be no secret these days but it’s still fascinating. There is plenty of juicy dialogue for actors to sink their teeth into (pun intended). Kinnear plays the corporate suit as lovably as possible. He’s the put-upon business cog similar to his characters in The Matador and Little Miss Sunshine but funnier because it’s the system that’s futile not his own dreams. Valderrama has a smaller part just supporting his wife going through a horrible life with noble determination. Moreno is as heartbreaking as she was in her Oscar-nominated performance in Maria Full of Grace. You sense so much potential in her and she’s stuck in the factory demeaned by sexual harassment and unable to save her sister from succumbing to it. She adds new colors of despair to the immigrant experience. Johnson is careful not to make her character too wise beyond her years. She really is just a normal kid. High school sucks so do counter jobs. It’s not about being unique just relatable. Cameos stand out too. Ethan Hawke plays the coolest uncle ever. He comes to town for two scenes spouts off his cool-uncle advice and then leaves. Even though he’s a self-confessed loser he’s convincing. And he buys her beer. Bruce Willis gives a speech on the meat industry with his David Addison smirk while chomping into a burger. We’re sold. Director Richard Linklater does a good job keeping the comedy and drama balanced. He cuts back and forth between stories at sensible intervals. Towards the end Greg Kinnear disappears for a long time but Ashley Johnson’s story beefs up to compensate. Showing the inner workings of the meat factory is pretty powerful. Cow guts falling out and bodies mangled by machinery are not fun things to watch but they are important to remember. It’s all up there on the screen but not gratuitous—and doesn’t have to ruin meat forever. Just think how all foods have processes that we don’t see and still taste good. There are plenty of scenes in which the characters are talking a real Linklater specialty (Before Sunset Before Sunrise for example). Whether they’re talking about meat or minimum wage jobs or life ambitions the conversations have a catchy flow. The satire of corporate America and slacker lifestyles juxtaposed against the drama of immigrant life makes Fast Food Nation both ridiculously funny and appropriately uncomfortable.