Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017 WGA Awards: 'Moonlight' and 'Arrival' win as questions linger for Oscar night

Final Oscar ballots are in, and we've finally reached the home stretch of the lengthy awards season. Jimmy Kimmel will take the stage to host the Academy Awards in just over 4 days, and there's still a good degree of unpredictability. La La Land feels like a fairly safe bet to win Best Picture and Damien Chazelle is in good shape for Best Director, but from there, things get tricky. Will it be Casey Affleck or Denzel Washington for Best Actor? Can Isabelle Huppert pull off an upset over Emma Stone in the Best Actress category? Will Best Supporting Actor front-runner Mahershala Ali hold off Dev Patel? In addition to the complex nature of the technical categories, there's a great deal of uncertainty surrounding this year's affair. While Moonlight feels like a pretty safe bet for Adapted Screenplay (depending on who you ask, this may or may not be category fraud), things are much more complex in Original Screenplay. Damien Chazelle and Kenneth Lonergan are fighting to the bitter end, and many hoped that Sunday's WGA Awards would clear things up a bit. Instead, the waters only got muddier.


In the Best Adapted Screenplay category, Eric Heisserer's complex, brilliant screenplay for Arrival took home the Writers Guild Award. But remember- this was without facing competition from Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney's script for Moonlight. That film was listed in the Best Original Screenplay category at the WGA, and it took home a surprising victory over both La La Land and Manchester by the Sea. With Jenkins and McCraney certain to win the Oscar on Sunday, Heisserer's WGA trophy serves as a nice consolation prize. However, it only makes the Original category more of a toss-up. Will the Academy find a place to recognize Kenneth Lonergan's quiet, understated work on Manchester? Or will the La La Land steamroll continue? To be quite honest with you, I'm not sure where I'm putting my money at this point. I'll have some final Oscar predictions later in the week, but for now, I'm going to remain quiet on the topic. It really could go either way.


Image Credits: A24, IMDB/Paramount

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