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Writers Guild and MPSE Announce Winners

Well, the weekend has wrapped and all but a few precursors remain. Yesterday’s winners continued to shed a bit of light on how things will go this Sunday, and, in some ways, made things a little more confusing.

The Writers Guild of America announced their 64th annual slate of winners early in the evening. As was overwhelmingly expected, Woody Allen was awarded Best Original Screenplay for his comeback film “Midnight in Paris.” While some believe that this makes him a lock for the Oscar win, he is actually far from it. Due to the WGA’s wacky (and absurd, if you ask me) eligibility guidelines, many films did not even qualify for the nominations. One such film is Best Picture frontrunner “The Artist,” and to be quite honest, said film still has a tremendous chance of stealing that award away. I’d say the money is still on “Paris,” since it has managed to beat out its competition, thus far (except for the BAFTA). Yet, one should never underestimate the power of a film’s sweeping potential. Screenplay might just get caught up in the hurricane.

Adapted Screenplay was a bit of a depressing moment for me, last night. “The Descendants” expectantly won the award for writers Alexander Payne, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon. Put together with the Scripter, this easily makes it the leading contender for the Oscar equivalent. Truly sad, if you ask me. “Descendants” is a great script, hurt, mind you, by a uneven and largely expositional voiceover. However, the obvious and true winner of this award has been discarded. Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zallian, undoubtedly crafted the best screenplay of the year, and as of now, will probably not see their work awarded. I can only hope for a 2009-esque upset, when “Precious” defied all logic to beat “Up in the Air” (ironically also starring George Clooney). Don’t count on it, though.

The second and final awards ceremony of the night was the Motion Picture Sound Editors. Many of Oscar’s Sound Editing nominees had several mentions, here, making these awards a useful barometer. The winners went down as follows:

  • BEST SOUND EFFECTS AND FOLEY IN A FEATURE FILM: “War Horse”
  • BEST MUSIC IN A FEATURE FILM: “Hugo”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN AN ANIMATION FEATURE FILM: “The Adventures of Tintin”
  • BEST MUSIC IN A MUSICAL FEATURE FILM: “The Muppets”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN A FEATURE FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: “The Flowers of War”
  • BEST SOUND EDITING IN A FEATURE DOCUMENTARY: “George Harrison: Living in the Material World”
  • BEST DIALOGUE AND ADR IN A FEATURE FILM: “Super 8″

Of the winners, two films also share an Oscar nomination: “Hugo” and “War Horse,” and we can pretty much bet that this category will go to one or the other. Since “Hugo” will probably take Sound Mixing (given its Cinema Audio Society victory, two nights ago), it is very possible it might take both categories in a sweep. Yet, I believe I’ll have to go with “War Horse” for a multitude of reasons.

First off, it took home the night’s big prize, Sound Effects and Foley, the award that most gravitates to the Oscar equivalent (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Letters from Iwo Jima” all films that won both the MPSE and Oscar). Also, it is impossible to deny the insane popularity of Gary Rydstrom and Richard Hymns, with a combined ten Oscars between them. The last time they collaborated with Spielberg on a straight-up war film (“Saving Private Ryan”) they definitely do too shabby, either.

Everything else aside, there’s one glaring ideology pointing towards a “War Horse” victory. If “Hugo” were to win Best Sound Editing, it would be the first live action film without any gunfire to do so since “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in 2002. If you take swordplay out of the equation, it goes back a lot further than that. With all things considered, this award leans towards movie action, and virtually always has. All of these factors, combined, point to not only a possible, but likely “War Horse” victory.

The sand is running out of the hourglass and only a few precursors to go. Tomorrow night is the Costume Designers Guild, where “The Artist,” “Bridesmaids” and “Harry Potter” appear to be likely winners. Then, the season is capped off by the Independent Spirit Awards less than twenty-four hours before the red carpet roles out. I’ll keep you posted.

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