"The Hurt Locker" and "Up in the Air" were the big winners Saturday at the Writers Guild of America Awards, perhaps setting the stage for similar triumphs on Oscar night.
Mark Boal, who spun his embedded journalistic reports into a script, won best original screenplay and Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner took the adapted screenplay honor. "The Cove" was the winner for documentary screenplay and seems poised to be the doc winner at the Academy Awards.
In 2004, Boal spent several weeks embedded with a U.S. Army bomb squad operating in one of the most dangerous sections of Baghdad.
"It made a deep impression on me. When I got home, I thought people have no idea how these guys live and what they're up against, and then later I started thinking about it dramatically and doing a fictional story about men who voluntarily work with bombs," Boal has said.
"On a character level, I was intrigued by the sort of mental and psychological framework that a bomb technician develops on the job. What kind of personality is comfortable with extreme risk and with living so close to death? And in a thematic sense, the bomb squad seemed like a promising entry-point for a war movie."
Was it ever.