We assess this year’s Writers Guild of America Awards, a reliable barometer of the forthcoming Oscars
What hints this year's Writers Guild Awards gave us about the Oscars
Sunday saw the latest in the seemingly endless round of awards that precedes March’s Oscars ceremony, and who
better to reward the year’s best shows and scripts than the writers themselves, courtesy of the Writers Guild of America Awards?
We don’t get too many hints as to which actors or directors might be celebrating come Oscars night – the guild understandably focuses largely on writing, and covers both TV and film – but the awards are generally a solid indicator for the Oscars’ screenplay categories, which is good news for this year’s winners James Ivory (Call Me by Your Name) and Jordan Peele
(Get Out). Here are some key talking points from this year’s awards.
The Writers Guild of America Awards differ from most other major awards in that only those scripts written under the auspices of the WGA, according to its rules and regulations, are eligible. This year, that means original screenplays such as British/Irish-penned Oscar front-runner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Winston Churchill biopic Darkest Hour weren’t up for awards; likewise Greek pairing Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for The Killing of a Sacred Deer. On the adapted screenplay side, notable omissions include Lee Hall’s Victoria & Abdul and Matt Greenhalgh’s Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. It isn’t the first time the WGA has had some notable absentees. Previous ineligible films that have gone on to Oscars success include Birdman, Room and The Theory of Everything.
The big winners Best Original Screenplay
Get Out writer/director Jordan Peele is looking like a strong contender for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and perhaps even Best Motion Picture, after adding the WGA prize to a host of critics’ prizes, including the influential Chicago Film Critics Association gong and the coveted Critics’ Choice Award. Nothing is certain at this stage in regards to the Best Motion Picture Oscar, though the WGA result is bad news for Guillermo del Toro’s hotly tipped The Shape of Water – you have to go all the way back to 2004 and Million Dollar Baby to find an eligible film that picked up the Best Motion Picture Oscar without first winning the WGA award. Whether Three Billboards can steam in on Oscars night and steal Peele’s thunder remains to be seen.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name, James Ivory’s personal awakening drama, added the WGA adaptation award to the USC Libraries Scripter Award it picked up a mere 24 hours earlier. It is still possible that a competitor such as The Disaster Artist or the impressive Logan could sneak in and take Oscars glory, but after an impressive performance in the current round of critics and guild awards, Ivory is surely the hot tip for the Best Adapted Screenplay statue in March.
Best Drama Series/Best New Series
Unlike The Oscars, the WGA awards recognise achievements in TV writing as well as cinema. Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian sci-fi novel The Handmaid’s Tale was this year’s big winner, adding two WGA nods to prizes at the Golden Globes and the Primetime Emmy Awards, where it was the first series from a streaming service to pick up the Outstanding Drama Series award, as well as a further eight Emmys. The show has already been commissioned for a second series, which is due to have its premiere in the United States in April. Local screening details haven’t been announced yet, although
the previous season was
aired on OSN First HD and remains available on OSN’s catch-up services.
Best Comedy Series
Armando Iannucci-created HBO political satire Veep was expected to be in a two-way race with Aziz Ansari’s Master of None for the Best Comedy prize, with Ansari initially narrowly considered a favourite. With Ansari currently embroiled in a Hollywood sexual-harassment scandal, however, the scales seemingly tipped in Veep’s favour, which meant that Ansari failed to add to his Golden Globe win in January, while Veep picked up its third WGA award for Best Comedy Series – a record that the show now shares with 30 Rock.
Winners in full
Call Me by Your Name
Jane, National Geographic
The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu
The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu
Long Form Original
Long Form Adapted
Big Little Lies, HBO
“Time’s Arrow,” BoJack Horseman, Netflix
“Chicanery,” Better Call Saul, AMC
“Rosario’s Quinceanera,” Will & Grace, NBC
Comedy/Variety Talk Series
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, HBO
Comedy/Variety Sketch Series
Saturday Night Live
39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, CBS
Quiz and Audience Participation
Hollywood Game Night, NBC
General Hospital, ABC