Thursday, January 5, 2017

Nominations announced for 2017 Writers Guild Awards

The guild awards are an important step on the way to the Oscars, providing a critical indication of what films voters are considering. While the guilds are not a foolproof method of prediction, it's a matter of fact that films that do well at the guilds tend to do well at the Oscars. And when a highly touted film misses a certain award at the guilds, there tends to be a bit of a panic. Look at what happened with La La Land at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last month. The Best Picture favorite snagged nominations for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, but missed the Best Ensemble nomination, which every film since 1995's Braveheart had received on their way to a win at the Oscars. There was a brief frenzy, and many started to think that other films had a shot at unseating the front-runner.

There was potential for a similar situation to unfold at the announcement of the Writers Guild Awards nominations, which were revealed yesterday. If a screenplay missed the cut, there could be real trouble going forward. So with that in mind, here are the nominees for the 2017 WGA Awards.

Best Original Screenplay

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Jeff Nichols, Loving
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Eric Heisserer, Arrival
Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, Deadpool
August Wilson, Fences
Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals

There's an important thing to note about this year's nominees- the WGA ruled that Loving and Moonlight were original screenplays, while the Oscars elected to put them in the adapted category. So while there were some interesting developments, I wouldn't put too much stock into these nominations. All of the expected films (Hell or High Water, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, and La La Land) received nominations, and the guild used the categories to throw a few oddball choices in the adapted screenplay category. The biggest hubbub yesterday surrounded the nomination for Fox's Deadpool, which felt like an odd choice among all of these other prestige titles. Some have pointed to the opening credits of the film as reasoning for the nomination ("Written by the Real Heroes Here"), while others have simply chalked it up as a WGA misfire. Either way, I don't seriously believe that the vulgar Merc with a Mouth will be up for an Oscar. But hey, if the Golden Globes go off the rails, who knows, maybe I'm wrong.

In addition to the surprise nomination for the R-rated superhero film, Fox snagged another big win for Hidden Figures, their 1960s NASA drama. The film has been creeping up the charts in recent weeks, and I expect that it'll be in the mix for a Best Picture nomination at this rate. Films like Lion, The Lobster, and Florence Foster Jenkins were ineligible for the award, while Jackie, 20th Century Women, and Silence simply missed the cut. I wouldn't worry too much about the former two, since they're playing in the original category at the Oscars, but Silence is seriously in trouble. More coverage on the Oscar race soon, as well as some reviews and predictions for the Golden Globes!

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