Every year, the Writers Guild of America confounds Oscarologists when it rules a slew of screenplays ineligible for their kudos. Only scripts written under the guild’s guidelines or those of several international partners are allowed to vie for these awards. Last year, four of the 10 Oscar nominees were ineligible at the WGA Awards: the original scripts for “Ex Machina” and “Inside Out” and the adaptations of “Brooklyn” and “Room.”
While the number of films in contention at this year’s Oscars number upwards of 300, only 60 original and 55 adapted screenplays are in the running for the 69th annual edition of these precursor prizes. Among those ineligible for consideration are some of the leading Oscar contenders.
“Lion” sits at fourth place on our chart predicting the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nominees. But Luke Davies won’t be reaping a WGA bid as his film ran afoul of the requirement that foreign production companies prove their eligibility via a cumbersome process.
Other adapted screenplays nixed by the guild include a trio of animated hits — “Finding Dory,” “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “Zootopia” as well as three foreign-language films that are strong Oscar contenders in other categories — “Elle,” “The Handmaiden” and “Toni Erdmann” — as well as indie darling “Krisha.”
While our five frontrunners for the Original Screenplay Oscar are all in the running with the guild, one that is moving quickly up the ranks is not eligible for consideration: “The Lobster.” Efthymis Filippou and Yorgos Lanthimos won Best Screenplay from the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. on Sunday for this deft satire and may well reap an Oscar bid as well.
How many of this year’s WGA nominees will also contend at the Academy Awards? Which of them will still reap bids under the preferential system used by the academy — which benefits those contenders with passionate support — rather than the popular voting of the WGA which nominates the top five overall vote getters regardless of where they rank on the ballots.
Last year, “Spotlight” won Original Screenplay at the WGA before repeating at the Oscars. Of its WGA competition, only “Bridge of Spies” and “Straight Outta Compton” also contended at the Oscars with “Sicario” and “Trainwreck” replaced by Ex Machina” and “Inside Out.” Likewise, “The Big Short” won over the guild before prevailing with the academy in Adapted Screenplay. The other WGA nominees to make it to the Oscars were “Carol” and “The Martian” with “Steve Jobs” and “Trumbo” giving way to “Brooklyn” and “Room.”
Of 2014’s five WGA nominees for Original Screenplay, four went on to lose at the Oscars to “Birdman,” which was WGA-ineligible: “Boyhood,” “Foxcatcher,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Nightcrawler.” WGA nominee “Whiplash” was bumped to the adapted race by the academy because it was based, in part, on a short film by writer/director Damien Chazelle. The Oscar winner for Adapted Screenplay, “The Imitation Game,” won at the WGA first against Oscar rival “American Sniper” and three scripts that were snubbed by the academy: “Gone Girl” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and “Wild.”
In 2013, all five of the WGA picks for Original Screenplay repeated at the Oscars, with “Her” winning both awards. The other nominees were: “American Hustle,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Nebraska.” Only three of the WGA nominees for Adapted Screenplay — winner “Captain Phillips” as well as “Before Midnight” and “Wolf of Wall Street” — reaped Oscar bids; neither eventual Oscar champ “12 Years a Slave” nor “Philomena” were eligible for the guild prize.
In 2012, seven of the WGA nominees also reaped Oscar bids, including the adaptation of “Argo” which won both races. However, two of the eventual five Oscar nominees for Original Screenplay — the winner “Django Unchained” by Tarantino and “Amour” from writer-director Michael Haneke — were deemed ineligible by the WGA. “Zero Dark Thirty” won that race at the WGA and was among the five Oscar contenders.
In 2011, only five of the 10 WGA nominees went on to contend at the Oscars. Three of the Oscar nominees for Original Screenplay — “The Artist,” “Margin Call” and “A Separation” — were ruled ineligible by the WGA as was one of the Adapted Screenplay Oscar contenders — “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Both of 2011’s WGA winners went on to repeat at the Oscars. “Midnight in Paris” won Woody Allen his fifth Original Screenplay award from the WGA while Alexander Payne claimed his third Adapted Screenplay prize for “The Descendants,” along with collaborators Nax Faxon and Jim Rash.
In 2010, six of the 10 WGA nominees went on to compete at the Oscars. Aaron Sorkin won Adapted Screenplay at both kudos for “The Social Network.” He edged out the adapters of “127 Hours” and “True Grit” for both awards. However, two of his Oscar rivals — “Toy Story 3” and “Winter’s Bone” — were ineligible to contend at the WGAs. The eventual Oscar winner for Original Screenplay — “The King’s Speech” — was also ineligible for the WGA award as was another Oscar nominee — “Another Year.” Oscar contender Christopher Nolan won that prize for “Inception” edging out, among others, Oscar rivals “The Fighter” and “The Kids Are All Right.”
In 2009, the four WGA contenders deemed Oscar worthy were: WGA winner “The Hurt Locker” which repeated at the Oscars and “A Serious Man” on the original front and eventual champ “Precious” and WGA winner “Up in the Air” on the adapted side. Two of the eventual five Oscar nominees for Original Screenplay — “Inglorious Basterds” and “Up” — were ineligible for WGA consideration. Likewise, three of the Adapted Screenplay contenders — “District 9,” “An Education” and “In the Loop” — were left out of the running by the WGA.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. How do you think “La La Land” will do with academy voters? Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.