Writers Guild Awards: Oscar frontrunners ‘La La Land,’ ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ ‘Moonlight’ reap nominations

The Writers Guild of America revealed nominations on Wednesday (Jan. 4) for the 69th annual edition of its awardsfest, which will be held simultaneously in LA and Gotham on Feb. 19.

The original screenplay nominees are: “Hell or High Water,” “La La Land,” “Loving,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.” That last one has been deemed to be an adaptation by the academy, because it is based on a play, albeit one that was unproduced.

Adapted screenplay contenders are: “Arrival,” “Deadpool,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and “Nocturnal Animals.”

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As these kudos only consider screenplays written under the guild’s guidelines or those of several international partners, several leading Oscar contenders were ruled ineligible for consideration including the adaptations of “Lion” and “Finding Dory” and the original scripts for “The Lobster” and “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Indeed, while 336 films are in the running for Best Picture at the Oscars, only 60 of these had original scripts that could vie for WGA recognition while just 55 had adapted screenplays that could contend. Compare those figures to last year when 61 original scripts and 51 adaptations were eligible.

As such, these kudos are not the most reliable barometer of the eventual Oscar nominees, In the past seven years only 43 of the WGA nominees have numbered among the 70 screenplays that reaped Oscar bids. Indeed, 2014’s Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay, “Birdman,” was ineligible here.

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ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Hell or High Water”
Written by Taylor Sheridan

“La La Land”
Written by Damien Chazelle

“Loving”
Written by Jeff Nichols

“Manchester by the Sea”
Written by Kenneth Lonergan

“Moonlight”
Written by Barry Jenkins, Story by Tarell McCraney

UPDATED: Oscar predictions by experts in all 24 categories

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
“Arrival”
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

“Deadpool”
Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Based on the X-Men comic books

“Fences”
Screenplay by August Wilson
Based on his play

“Hidden Figures”
Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly

“Nocturnal Animals”
Screenplay by Tom Ford
Based on the novel “Tony and Susan” by Austin Wright

UPDATED: Oscar odds in all 24 categories 

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY
“Author: The JT LeRoy Story”
Written by Jeff Feuerzeig

“Command and Control”
Telescript by Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser, story by Brian Pearle and Kim Roberts
Based on the book “Command and Control” by Eric Schlosser

“Zero Days”
Written by Alex Gibney

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