Little Miss Sunshine's Oscar chances keep looking brighter.
The little indie comedy about an oddball family road-tripping to a kiddie beauty pageant came up big at the 2007 Writers Guild Awards Sunday, with the film's mastermind, newcomer Michael Arndt, taking home the prize for Best Original Screenplay.
Veteran scribe William Monahan scored the hardware for Best Adapted Screenplay for his high-octane script for Martin Scorsese's The Departed. It's a crime thriller based on the popular Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs about two moles—a Massachusetts undercover cop and a mob informant who infiltrate each others' respective organizations.
The honors, doled out annually by the Writers Guild of America, officially confer frontrunner status on both films in their respective categories at this year's Oscars, which are due to be handed out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at Hollywood's Kodak Theater Feb. 25.
Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed are also considered the favorites to win Best Picture after sweeping through the guild awards.
The former—the feature debut of music video directors Jonathan Farris and Valerie Faris and starring Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin—has already snagged Best Picture props from the Producer's Guild of America and Best Ensemble from the Screen Actors Guild, while the latter flick garnered Scorsese his first Directors Guild of America trophy.
At the Oscars, they'll vie for Best Picture against Letters from Iwo Jima, The Queen and Babel.
In accepting his accolade, Arndt gave thanks to producers Marc Turtletaub, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa for sticking by a virtual unknown and defending his vision during what was a long and tortuous development process.
"They spent five years trying to protect this script from studio notes," the screenwriter said.
Arndt, who started out as an assistant on the Matthew Broderick movie Addicted to Love, had previously earned a living as a script reader.
Meanwhile, Carell, who plays a suicidal gay Proust scholar in Little Miss Sunshine, collected some hardware of his own from his day at NBC's The Office.
He and his fellow show writers received the award for Best Comedy Series, and he was singled out for Best Episodic Comedy for penning the episode "Casino Night."
Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer's pilot for HBO's Big Love was tapped for Best Episodic Drama, while The Sopranos was named Best Dramatic Series for creator David Chase & Co. Long-Form Writing went to Nevin Schreiner for A&E's 9/11 drama, Flight 93.
The writing staff for ABC's Ugly Betty took home the award for Best New Series.
The guild bestowed Best Documentary Screenplay honors to Amy Berg's Deliver Us from Evil, a searing examination of sexual abuse committed by a priest and the impact it has had on his victims and their families. The movie has also been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
Here's a list of all the 2007 WGA movie and TV winners:
- Original Screenplay: Little Miss Sunshine
- Adapted Screenplay: The Departed
- Documentary Screenplay: Deliver Us from Evil
- Dramatic Series: The Sopranos, HBO
- Comedy Series: The Office, NBC
- New Series: Ugly Betty, ABC
- Episodic Drama: Big Love, HBO
- Episodic Comedy: "Casino Night," The Office, NBC
- Long-Form Original: Flight 93, A&E
- Animation: "The Italian Bob," The Simpsons, Fox
- Comedy/Variety—Music, Awards, Tributes-Specials: The National Memorial Day Concert, PBS
- Comedy/Variety (including Talk) Series: Saturday Night Live
- Daytime Serials: As the World Turns, CBS
- Children's Episodic & Specials: Premiere (Just for Kicks), Nickelodeon
- Documentary—Current Events: The Dark Side, PBS Frontline
- Documentary—Other Than Current Events: Marie Antoinette, PBS
- News—Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin or Breaking Report: Remembering Lou Rawls, CBS News
- News—Analysis, Feature Or Commentary: Crisis Management (America's Investigative Reports), PBS