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WGA Awards: Christopher Nolan ‘Qualified’ Victory

WGA Awards Christopher Nolan Inception
WGA Awards winner Inception: Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Caine in Christopher Nolan blockbuster.

Christopher Nolan wins WGA Award

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, the multi-layered sci-fi thriller Inception was the Best Original Screenplay winner at the 2011 Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards, held on Feb. 5 in Los Angeles. Written by Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network was named the winner in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. (See further below a partial list of 2011 WGA Awards’ winners and nominations.)

Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the leader of a group of “dream crashers.” Other cast members include Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, and Michael Caine.

Directed by David Fincher, The Social Network a.k.a. The Facebook Movie, features Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Rooney Mara, and Justin Timberlake.

The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal presented the narrative film awards. As quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Sorkin remarked, “I think I wrote a good screenplay, but David Fincher made a great movie.” As per indieWIRE’s Anne Thompson, that’s exactly what Sorkin said when he won the USC Scripter Award the day before.

WGA Awards: The King’s Speech ineligible

“Nine years ago I had a lot of success for Memento,” this year’s WGA Award winner Christopher Nolan remarked. “Nothing is more important than recognition from my peers.”

Nolan then added, “There were some notables left off the list this year. I’m not going to name them, for fear that it boosts their chances at the other show,” referring to the upcoming Academy Awards. “I hope next year the person who stands up here can give thanks without qualification.”

According to the Writers Guild rules, David Seidler’s The King’s Speech screenplay was ineligible for the WGA Awards. The Tom Hooper-directed period drama is the top contender for the 2011 Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

The King’s Speech stars Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, and veteran Claire Bloom (Limelight, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold).

Inside Job Eliot Spitzer
Inside Job: Eliot Spitzer, former New York governor in the documentary directed and cowritten by Charles Ferguson.

Inside Job: The 2008 Global Meltdown

The other big-screen winner at the WGA Awards was the documentary Inside Job, which last week earned Charles Ferguson the Directors Guild Award. Director-coscreenwriter Ferguson shared the Best Documentary Screenplay WGA Award with Chad Beck and Adam Bolt.

As quoted in Variety, in his acceptance speech Ferguson remarked, “this is only the second film I’ve ever made.” His first documentary, No End in Sight, about the disastrous U.S. involvement in Iraq, was an Academy Award nominee three years ago. No End in Sight lost the Oscar to Alex Gibney’s Taxi to the Dark Side.

Inside Job depicts the causes – greed, corruption, imbecility, apathy – that led to the global economic meltdown of 2008, whose effects are still with us. Ferguson’s film is also in the running for the 2011 Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

As an aside, Inside Job features former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who in 2010 was the subject of Alex Gibney’s Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer.

Other WGA Award winners

The Screen Laurel Award – the Writers Guild’s equivalent to a Lifetime Achievement Award for film writers – was presented by Sony Pictures cochairman Amy Pascal to Steven Zaillian, whose credits include John Schlesinger’s The Falcon and the Snowman, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, and Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.

Zaillian’s upcoming movies are David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, and Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Robin Wright.

WGA television winners included Modern Family for Best Comedy Series, Mad Men for Best Drama Series, and Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award recipient Diane English.

English, the creator of the TV hit Murphy Brown, was honored for her “outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer.” Murphy Brown star Candice Bergen handed her the trophy.

A parallel ceremony honoring the Writers Guild of America’s East Coast branch was held in New York City.

See below the list of the 2011 WGA Awards’ winners and nominees in the feature film / documentary categories, including the surprise appearance of the troubled box office disappointment I Love You Phillip Morris.

The Social Network WGA Awards winner
The Social Network: WGA Awards winner starring Jesse Eisenberg.

2011 WGA Awards winners and nominees (film)


  • Black Swan
    Screenplay by Mark Heyman. Andres Heinz. John McLaughlin.
    Story by Andres Heinz.
  • The Fighter
    Screenplay by Scott Silver. Paul Tamasy. Eric Johnson.
    Story by Keith Dorrington. Paul Tamasy. Eric Johnson.
  • * Inception
    Christopher Nolan.
  • The Kids Are All Right
    Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg.
  • Please Give
    Nicole Holofcener.


  • 127 Hours
    Screenplay by Danny Boyle. Simon Beaufoy.
    Based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston.
  • I Love You Phillip Morris
    Screenplay by John Requa. Glenn Ficarra.
    Based on the book by Steven McVicker.
  • * The Social Network
    Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin.
    Based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich.
  • The Town
    Screenplay by Peter Craig. Ben Affleck. Aaron Stockard.
    Based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan.
  • True Grit
    Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen.
    Based on the novel by Charles Portis.


  • Enemies of the People
    Written, Directed, Filmed and Produced by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath.
  • Freedom Riders
    Written, Produced and Directed by Stanley Nelson.
  • Gasland
    Written and Directed by Josh Fox.
  • * Inside Job
    Produced, Written and Directed by Charles Ferguson. Co-written by Chad Beck. Adam Bolt.
  • The Two Escobars
    Written by Michael Zimbalist. Jeff Zimbalist.
  • Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?
    Written and Directed by John Scheinfeld.
Black Swan Art Directors Guild winner Natalie Portman
Art Directors Guild winner Black Swan, with Natalie Portman.

Inception & Black Swan among Art Directors Guild winners

Earlier tonight, Feb. 5, the Art Directors Guild (ADG) announced the winners of its 2011 Production Design Awards in nine categories of film, television, commercials, and music videos. The awards ceremony took place at the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

In the Film categories, the winners were:

  • Inception (Fantasy)
    Production Designer: Guy Hendrix Dyas.
    Director: Christopher Nolan.
    Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Marion Cotillard. Ellen Page. Tom Hardy. Michael Caine.
  • Black Swan (Contemporary)
    Production Designer: Thérèse DePrez.
    Director: Darren Aronofsky.
    Cast: Natalie Portman. Mila Kunis. Barbara Hershey. Winona Ryder. Vincent Cassel. Benjamin Millepied.
  • The King’s Speech (Period)
    Production Designer: Eve Stewart.
    Director: Tom Hooper.
    Cast: Colin Firth. Geoffrey Rush. Helena Bonham Carter. Guy Pearce. Claire Bloom.

See further below a partial list of 2011 Art Directors Guild Award winners and nominees.

David Lynch & Mariette Hartley among ADG Award presenters

Art Directors Guild Chairman Thomas A. Walsh presided over the awards ceremony, while comedienne Paula Poundstone served as host for the second consecutive year. Presenters included David Lynch, Mariette Hartley, Kristin Bauer, and Michael Weatherly.

In addition to the competitive awards, the ADG Lifetime Achievement Award was handed to Production Designer Patricia Norris, a frequent David Lynch collaborator (Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, Wild at Heart). Syd Dutton and Bill Taylor received the Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery.

Also at the ceremony, the Art Directors Guild inducted three additional Production Designers into its Hall of Fame:

  • Alexander Golitzen (Madame X, Airport).
  • Albert Heschong (the TV movies Something Evil, Calamity Jane).
  • Eugène Lourié (Grand Illusion, La Bête Humaine).

Art Directors Guild Awards recognition goes to the Production Designer, Art Director, and Assistant Art Director of each winning project.

Inception Art Directors Guild
Art Directors Guild Award winner Inception.

Art Directors Guild Awards: Winners and nominees


Full list of films partial TV. Only production designers listed below.

Contemporary Film
Judy Becker – The Fighter.
Donald Graham Burt – The Social Network.
* Thérèse DePrez – Black Swan.
Suttirat Larlarb – 127 Hours.
Sharon Seymour – The Town.

Fantasy Film
Stuart Craig – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
* Guy Hendrix Dyas – Inception.
Darren Gilford – TRON: Legacy.
Barry Robison – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Robert Stromberg – Alice in Wonderland.

Period Film
Dante Ferretti – Shutter Island.
Jess Gonchor – True Grit.
Geoffrey Kirkland – Get Low.
Arthur Max – Robin Hood.
* Eve Stewart – The King’s Speech.


Miniseries or Television Movie
Marcia Hinds – Revenge of the Bridesmaids.
* Robb Wilson King – Secrets in the Walls.

Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award
Syd Dutton.
Bill Taylor.

Lifetime Achievement Award
Patricia Norris.

Hall of Fame
Alexander Golitzen.
Albert Heschong.
Eugène Lourié.

Shutter Island production designer
Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island: Production designer Dante Ferretti.

Shutter Island production designer Dante Ferretti among Art Directors Guild nominees

Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech and Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island are among the 15 features shortlisted in three categories for the 2011 Art Directors Guild Awards. The production designer on the former is Eve Stewart; the production designer on the latter is frequent Scorsese collaborator Dante Ferretti (Gangs of New York, The Aviator).

Other unsurprising nominees include Christopher Nolan’s Inception, production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas; and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, production designer Robert Stromberg.

The Art Directors Guild Awards’ single surprise nominee in the feature film categories was Geoffrey Kirkland, shortlisted for his work on Aaron Schneider’s low-budget Get Low, starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek.

Visual Effects Inception
Visual Effects Society Awards’ top winner Inception: Paris-folding sequence.

Inception tops Visual Effects Society Awards

Inception has been the favorite for the 2011 Best Visual Effects Oscar since it opened last summer. On Feb. 1 came further confirmation that Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller is the film to beat in that category.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception received top honors – four awards in total – at the ninth Visual Effects Society Awards. Director Nolan was also honored with the first VES Visionary Award, while veteran special-effects wizard Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans 1981) received the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. (See further below the list of 2011 Visual Effects Society winners.)

Also in the Inception cast:

Marion Cotillard. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Ellen Page. Tom Hardy. Ken Watanabe. Michael Caine. Tom Berenger. Cillian Murphy. Pete Postlethwaite.

Only two Oscar/VES mismatches to date

Since the Visual Effects Society began handing out awards in 2003, only twice has the winner in the Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual-Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture category lost the Best Visual Effects Academy Award to another movie:

This year’s other VES winners in the Feature Motion Picture categories include Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, the animated How to Train Your Dragon, and David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

2011 Visual Effects Society Award winners (partial)

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual-Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture
Paul Franklin. Chris Corbould. Mike Chambers. Matthew Plummer.

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture
Michael Owens. Joel Mendias. Bryan Grill. Danielle Plantec.

Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
How to Train Your Dragon.
Simon Otto. Craig Ring. Bonnie Arnold.

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – Dobby.
Mathieu Vig. Ben Lambert. Laurie Brugger. Marine Poirson.

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
How to Train Your Dragon – Toothless.
Gabe Hordos. Cassidy Curtis. Mariette Marinus. Brent Watkins.

Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
How to Train Your Dragon.
Andy Hayes. Laurent Kermel. Jason Mayer. Brett Mille.

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture
Inception – Paris Dreamscape.
Bruno Baron. Dan Neal. Graham Page. Per Mork-Jensen.

Outstanding Models & Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture
Inception – Hospital Fortress Destruction.
Ian Hunter. Scott Beverly. Forest Fischer. Robert Spurlock.

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
Astrid Busser-Casas. Scott Pritchard. Jan Maroske. George Zwier.

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Miniseries. Movie or a Special.
The Pacific.
John Sullivan. David Taritero. William Mesa. Marco Requay.

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series
Michael Gibson. Gary Hutzel. Davey Morton. Jesse Mesa Toves.

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program
Boardwalk Empire.
Robert Stromberg. Dave Taritero. Richard Friedlander. Paul Graff.

Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short
Day & Night.
Teddy Newton. Kevin Reher. Michael Fu. Tom Gately.

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Broadcast Program
The Pacific – The Battle of Iwo Jima.
Marco Recuay. Morgan McDermott. Nick Lund-Ulrich.

Outstanding Models & Miniatures in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
Boardwalk Empire – The Ivory Tower.
J. John Corbett. Matthew Conner. Brendan Fitzgerald.

Outstanding Compositing in a Broadcast Program or Commercial
The Pacific – Peleliu landing.
Jeremy Nelson. John P. Mesa. Dan Novy. Tyler Cote.

James Taylor Carole King Troubadours
James Taylor and Carole King in Troubadours.

James Taylor and Carole King documentary ‘Troubadours’ wins Santa Barbara Film Festival Audience Award

The winners of the 2011 Santa Barbara International Film Festival were announced Sunday morning, Feb. 7, at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort. Notable among them was Audience Award winner Troubadours, featuring the likes of James Taylor and Carole King.

Directed by Morgan Neville, the documentary offers a portrait of the Los Angeles music scene from the late ’60s to the early ’70s, focusing on the still popular Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood.

Besides Taylor and King, also featured in Troubadours are Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Martin, and Elton John.

See full list of Santa Barbara Film Festival winners further below.

Australian ‘courtroom’ drama ‘Face to Face’ wins SBIFF’s Spirit Award

The Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema, “given to a unique independent feature made outside mainstream Hollywood,” went to Michael Rymer’s Face to Face, an Australian “courtroom” drama – held outside a courtroom. At a “community conference,” a group of people are supposed to decide the fate of a young construction worker who rammed into the back of his boss’ car after being fired.

The Best International Film Award went to Nathan Collett’s Togetherness Supreme, a Kenyan drama based on true events at the time of that country’s 2007 riots, while Alicia Vikander received a Special Jury Mention for her performance as a 20-year-old woman who discovers the power of Mozart’s music in Lisa Langseth’s Swedish-made Pure.

Face to Face meeting
Face to Face meeting with Sigrid Thornton.

Santa Barbara Film Festival winners

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: Michael Rymer’s Face to Face.

Best International Film Award: Nathan Collett’s Togetherness Supreme.

Special Jury Mention: Alicia Vikander for Pure.

The Nueva Vision Award: Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzmán.

Best East Meets West Cinema Award: Patisserie (Coin de rue) by Yoshihiro Fukagawa.

Best Eastern Bloc Award: If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle by Florin Serban.

Best Documentary Film Award: The Boy Mir: Ten Years in Afghanistan by Phil Grabsky.

Bruce Corwin Award for Best Live Action Short Film: West of the Moon by Brent Bonacorso.

Bruce Corwin Award for Best Animation Short Film: The Lost Thing by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan.

The Fund for Santa Barbara Social Justice Award: When I Rise by Mat Hames and Nostalgia for the Light by Patricio Guzmán.

Santa Barbara Audience Choice Award:Troubadours by Morgan Neville.

Santa Barbara Film Festival Jury

  • Actor Christopher Lloyd (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Back to the Future).
  • Santa Barbara Film Festival originator Phyllis de Picciotto.
  • Actor Billy Baldwin (Gossip Girl).
  • Writer/director Paul Brickman (Risky Business) and wife Jennifer Brickman.
  • Writer/producer Rusty Lemorande (Electric Dreams, Captain EO).
  • Producer Frank Donner (Deliver Us from Evil).
  • Actor Anthony Zerbe (The Liberation of L.B. Jones, The Matrix) and wife Arnette Zerbe.
  • Director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive).

James Taylor and Carole King Troubadours image: Tremolo Productions.

Sigrid Thornton Face to Face movie image: Face to Face Productions.

Santa Barbara Film Festival website.

Writers Guild of America official website.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter.

Image of the “Paris-folding” sequence in Inception: Stephen Vaughan | Warner Bros.

Art Directors Guild official website.

Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio Shutter Island image: Andrew Cooper / Paramount.

Art Directors Guild website.

Natalie Portman Black Swan “art” photo: Niko Tavernise | Fox Searchlight.

Art Directors Guild Award winner Inception image: Warner Bros.

Christopher Nolan WGA Awards quote via the Los Angeles Times.

Image of Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Caine in the Christopher Nolan movie Inception: Stephen Vaughan | Warner Bros.

Image of Eliot Spitzer in the Charles Ferguson documentary Inside Job: Sony Pictures Classics.

Image of Jesse Eisenberg in David Fincher’s WGA Awards winner The Social Network: Columbia Pictures | Sony Pictures.

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Daniel -

This movie was well done and quite an eye opener. Be prepared to get angry as you watch it. How in the world “they” were able to get away with ripping off working people around the world – that’s just amazing. However, it never would have been able to happen if we weren’t so much into borrowing money. That is at the root of it. Wake up people, let’s get out of debt once and for all! Boiled Down Money Goo can help you get there.


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