The much unheralded, yet ever important Writers Guild of America held their awards ceremony on February 11th. The event, which was completely outshadowed by the Grammys, honored Oscar rivals Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed with the two top awards. The road trip comedy, Little Miss Sunshine, which is about a family who takes their youngest member on a trip across America to enter a California beauty pageant, took the best original screenplay gong to Michael Arndt. The Departed, a remake of the Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs, took the best adapted screenplay prize for writer William Monahan.
Both films are up for best film at the Academy Awards on February 25, where they will also compete with The Queen, Letters From Iwo Jima and Babel. Many members of the guild are also entitled to vote in the Oscars so last night's awards does provide a useful indicator of success later this month.
Arndt told the audience that he wrote Little Miss Sunshine at a time when he had no job and no screenwriting credits to his name. He thanked the independent film's producers Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa and Marc Turtletaub for saving his script from the mainstream studios, where he believes it would have been torn apart.
"They spent five years trying to protect this script from studio notes," Arndt said. Deliver Us From Evil, which explores efforts by the Catholic church to protect a priest involved in sexual abuse of children, took the award for best film documentary screenplay. The movie is nominated for an Oscar for best documentary.
Now it is less than two short weeks until the Academy Awards. The Gossip Girls will be providing complete coverage leading up to, during, and after the event...so stay tuned.