Over the weekend, Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up in the Air) took home the WGA awards for Best Original and Adapted Screenplay. These were probably the expected winners, but does that actually make them the best? From what I understand, many of the WGA voters take the trouble to read the actual screenplay, in addition to watching the movie. Most of us don't get that opportunity; as a voting member of the SFFCC, I only received one screenplay in the mail, for Up. Thus, the majority of us can only judge the majority of the screenplays by the dialogue and the structure of the story as they appear on the movie screen.
When my critics group voted, we debated for a while over the merits of The Hurt Locker, versus those of Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, and we eventually gave our award to the latter. I love both movies, but The Hurt Locker seems to be more of a job of directing than of writing, whereas Tarantino's movie seems to rely more on the writing; the scenes build on -- and play out because of -- the dialogue. (Characters practically analyze their own actions on screen.) These two are nominated in the Best Original Screenplay Oscar category, with three other worthy candidates.