Oscar 2005: Writer Guild Awards

LOS ANGELES–Hollywood's screenwriters gave their two top film awards to race drama “Crash” and gay romance “Brokeback Mountain” on Saturday, setting up a showdown between the two message movies for the best movie Oscar.

“Crash,” which looks at racial tension in Los Angeles from the points of view of different ethnic groups, won the best original screenplay award from the Writers Guild of America for its writers Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco.

“Brokeback Mountain,” about a love affair between a pair of lonesome cowboys that spanned decades, earned Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry best adapted screenplay honors from the guild.

Moresco said he felt humbled to be honored by his peers. “To say our script is any one bit better than the others is nuts,” he said. “It's not a competition, and we all know it.”

Likewise, Ossana took note of all the scripts and writers competing for awards and said she felt honored just to be in the same “stellar company” as the others.

The guild awards are widely watched in Hollywood because many of their members also belong to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out the Oscars on March 5. Together, “Crash” and “Brokeback” have scooped up many of the top honors from Hollywood's professional groups.

“Brokeback,” earned the best motion picture honors from the Producers Guild of America and director Ang Lee won the top award from the Directors Guild of America. “Crash” came back to win the Screen Actors Guild trophy for best ensemble acting.

Before giving the Writers Guild award to Haggis and Moresco, Terrence Howard, who starred in “Crash,” praised the power of many of this year's competing movies offered audiences stories that made them think about the world and about society.

That could also be said of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which explores free speech issues in a tale about newsman Edward R. Murrow's battle against McCarthyism in the 1950s.

Its writers, Grant Heslov and George Clooney, were given an honorary award for a screenplay whose spirit embodies constitutional and civil rights issues.