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Writers Guild Awards: Could 'Descendants' Win Hint at Best Picture Oscar?

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Feb 20, 2012 | 6:09am EST

The DescendantsThis weekend, the Writers Guild of America hosted its 2012 Awards ceremony, celebrating writing achievements in film and television over the course of the past year. One of the big sells of checking in on the WGA winners is providing fuel for our Academy Awards predictions. On this token, one must think of The Descendants, the winner of the WGA’s Best Adapted Screenplay this year. Does this mean we’ll be seeing an Oscar win for Alexander Payne’s somberly funny chronicle of an American family’s face-off with tragedy?

It is hard to keep from letting wins in awards shows like the WGA affect our thoughts on the Oscars. Last year, The Social Network nabbed this Best Adapted Screenplay award from the WGA, and did the same at the Academy Awards. In fact, the Adapted Screenplay wins were in sync for the awards ceremonies celebrating the years of 2004 all the way through 2008. But the relationship between Best Adapted Screenplay (from either organization) and the Best Picture Oscar is a bit shakier.

The Descendants has definitely earned a lot of clout since its release late in 2011. Star George Clooney is unsurprisingly deft in the role of Matt King, a wealthy Hawaii resident dealing with the traumas of finding out his newly comatose wife had been cheating on him. Young Shailene Woodley, who plays Clooney’s wily teenage daughter, gives an incredibly fresh performance as well. After The Descendants was awarded with the Best Picture title at the Golden Globes, the public began to recognize the potential for writer/director Payne’s film as this year’s big Oscar winner. And this accolade from the WGA hardly deters from this mindset.

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Regarding the category of Best Original Screenplay, the Oscars and the WGA have had a pretty consistent alignment in tastes: starting with the awards ceremony celebrating 2003, the Original Screenplay synced up every year until last—when The King’s Speech was recognized by the Oscars, and Inception by the WGA. Again, the consistency between Original Screenplays and Best Picture Oscars is wavering at best. This year’s Best Original Screenplay from the WGA went to Midnight in Paris, writer/director Woody Allen’s romantic fantasy about a young writer (Owen Wilson) who lives out his dream by being transported to 1920s Paris to interact with his artistic heroes.

Although the Oscars and the WGA aren’t always in line, it’s difficult to let these victories sway our Academy predictions. Will The Descendants take Best Adapted Screenplay? Will Midnight in Paris grab Best Original? Will either film win Best Picture, or will the heavily favored The Artist be the victor there? February 26 will answer all of these questions.

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