"Inception" writer Christopher Nolan won for best original screenplay and "The Social Network" writer Aaron Sorkin won for best adapted screenplay. The awards were handed out by the Writers Guild of America in simultaneous ceremonies at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles and the AXA Equitable Center in New York.
"The Social Network," which Sorkin adapted from the Ben Mezrich book "The Accidental Billionaires," was expected to win Saturday. But the original screenplay category was considered a toss-up between "Inception," the psychosexual thriller "Black Swan" and the boxing drama "The Fighter" because current awards-season darling "The King's Speech" was not eligible for a WGA award as it was not made under the writing union's contract guidelines.
Other of the top films of 2010 like "Toy Story 3" and "Winter's Bone" were ineligible for the same reason.
Sorkin will be the prohibitive favorite in the adapted category, and "The King's Speech" and "Inception" will vie for original screenplay honors at the Academy Awards on Feb. 27.
"The Social Network," was also considered an early favorite for a best picture Oscar. But it has been trumped in recent award ceremonies including the Golden Globes and Producers Guild Awards by "The King's Speech," which features Colin Firth as the stammering father of Queen Elizabeth II and is expected to sweep several categories on Oscar night.
In other WGA categories, Charles Ferguson, Chad Beck and Adam Bolt won best documentary screenplay honors for "Inside Job," a chronicle of the 2008 economic meltdown.
And large teams of writers from AMC's "Mad Men" and ABC's "Modern Family" won for best drama and comedy series, respectively.