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A Shocking First-Time-Ever WGA Surprise!

To all the other nominees in the category, have fun at the Oscars, LOSERS!"
-Bo Burnham accepting his WGA prize for Original Screenplay

This is not common at all but last night the Writers Guild of America opted to ditch the Best Picture nominated films and instead chose Can You Ever Forgive Me? in Adapted and Eighth Grade (which was not even nominated for the Oscar *sniffle*) in Original as the year's best screenplays. Though the WGA and the Oscar winners only line up about half the time (some of that due to eligibility differences) it's pretty rare that the WGA skips Best Picture nominees if they have the option of awarding them. The last time they gave their Adapted Screenplay prize to a non Oscar Best Pic contender was American Splendor (2003) and the last time they gave their Original Screenplay to a non Oscar Best Pic contender was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) so we're talking quite a while ago. It's so uncommon that it happening in both categories simultaneously is a downright shock; it's literally never happened in the history of the WGA...

At least not in the history since 1985 which is when the WGA began to divide their prizes the same way that Oscar does.

Since both Eighth Grade and Can You Ever Forgive Me? are in our forthcoming top ten list AND nominated at our own awards, and we believe awards season should always air on the side of 'spreading the wealth,' we highly approve of this shocking result.  At the Oscars, though, the signs are pointing to BlacKkKlansman for Adapted and one of the Best Picture nominees in Original, but which...

My head and heart tell me that The Favourite should be impossible to deny in Original Screenplay given the frankly awesome dialogue and razor sharp storytelling. On the other hand Green Book is popular enough within Hollywood to win something on Oscar night besides just 'Supporting' Actor for Mahershala Ali, so screenplay seems the likeliest place.

You can see a full list of WGA winners and check out acceptance speeches here.


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Reader Comments (25)

BlacKkKlansman is up for Adapted Screenplay, not Original.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio

In that timeframe, they’ve only been 0/2 with the Academy’s choices twice. *Could* CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? weirdly (and deservedly) triumph??

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Eighth Grade and Can You Ever Forgive Me? both won? Good. They deserve it. That had to be a good sign for Can You Ever Forgive Me? going into the Oscars, right? Ok, it’s not guaranteed, but let me live in this dream a little longer. A Can You Ever Forgive Me? sweep would be everything.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Fabio -- i know. looks like i just forgot a single word in that sentence or a comma to show i was talking about two different things. Fixed.

February 18, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Though I thought Eighth Grade sucked tremendously and I was glad it didn't get any Oscar nomination, Bo Burnham is hilarious (his song "Kill Yourself" leave me in stitches) and it would've been nice to have seen a speech from him at the Oscars.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Very fine choices!!!

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

i was thrilled to see these two winners. first of all, it's just exciting to see a surprise and have people not vote on autopilot based on other awards shows and nominations. and then there's the fact that these are two of the very best scripts of the year! both are beautifully structured, unique in tone, surprising, moving, and filled with specific and interesting characters. bravo to the WGA!

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEricB

I want Jenkins to repeat in screenplay.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

His screenplay much better than his direction.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Can You Ever Forgive Me FTW. I was late to the party but I don't think loved a film more in 2018.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

His screenplay much better than his direction.

Beale Street is the superior movie of his three movie filmography.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

/3rtful -- what? no way. MOONLIGHT rocks.

ericb -- right? autopilot is the worst and there's so much of that each year.

February 18, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

YES!!!! Go Burnham! Fuck the Oscars!!!!!

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Beale Street was a snoozer~

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

well, that's just catapulted bo to the upper echelon of my favourite acceptance speeches

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

OMG I didn't know that's why Burnham said in this speech. Perfection.

I'm super happy both of these films won at WGA. Probably both of their last prizes of the season. Good for them! I also can't wait to see what Burnham does next. A musical would be lovely.

February 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

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February 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpooja

I'm thrilled by the guild's support for CYEFM!! let's hope this means the screenplay n Grant has more of a chance to surprise us come Oscar night! 😁

February 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Predicting Paul Schrader for Original Screenplay. Just a gut feeling I have. Nominating him and not awarding him seems churlish to me.

I actually think Barry Jenkins can win Adapted Screenplay. Not the best example, but like "Fences," lauded adaptations of African-American literature has added heft here that's hard to deny. But one was a BP nominee, I know. The other isn't. I'll be a chicken here and probably pick Spike, since Director is impossible now.

Kinda cool WGA used its own brain this year. So no consensus whatsoever from the guilds? Is this unprecedented?

DGA: "Roma"
WGA: "Eighth Grade"/"CYEFM?"
PGA: "Green Book"
SAG: "Black Panther"

It's still "Roma" (BAFTA, CC) vs. "Green Book" (GG) for BP, but still. We not see division like this again in our lifetimes.

February 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

@/3rtful; I was talking about Burnham.

But Beale Street isn't very well-written l, nor well-realized on screen. And both leads bring the film down. Add to that the non-existent chemistry and a genuinely empty performance from Layne, and the movie sputters into something below subpar.

I just don't see anything valid in calling this film great, when the main performance is so clearly poor. And there's no way around how poor she is. She didn't give a performance. And the screenplay doesn't care a lick about their relationship, but rather uses them.

The racist cop narrative is terrible and a better example of some if the allegations thrown at Green Book.

February 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

Thank you WGA. Just thank you. What a fantastic surprise for two completely deserving winners.

February 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I thought Eight Grade won?

😂 the screenplay is good.

February 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

"Eighth Grade" and "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" winning are the best results so far this award season. I hope the Oscars follow suit, at least with giving CYEFM a win.

February 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Deserved winners. Both.
Thanks, WGA!
Wake up, Academy!

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio Dantas Flappers

The Academy did well with three of the nominees. The Party, The Rider, Cold War even, I think are all firmly ahead. If not for the flashbacks, I'd say The Wife as well.

Blindspotting a clear #1 for me. Tho with Eight Grade, the writing was good. Not at all a fan of his direction.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMe

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