Writers Guild Awards preview: Oscar frontrunner ‘Manchester by the Sea’ and ‘Arrival’ will win

The 69th annual edition of the Writers Guild of America awardsfest 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. While “Moonlight” is predicted to win the Adapted Screenplay race at the Oscars, it will lose here to “Manchester by the Sea.” That film is expected to repeat in Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.

Adapted screenplay contenders are: “Arrival,” “Deadpool,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and “Nocturnal Animals.”Arrival” is predicted to win this prize but lose at the Oscars to “Moonlight.” Of the other WGA nominees, only “Fences” and “Hidden Figures” reaped Oscar bids.

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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 adaptation of “Lion,” which won the BAFTA, and the original script for “The Lobster.”

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
“Manchester by the Sea” (2/3 odds)
Written by Kenneth Lonergan

“Moonlight” (7/2 odds)
Written by Barry Jenkins, Story by Tarell McCraney

“La La Land” (15/2 odds)
Written by Damien Chazelle

“Hell or High Water” (14/1 odds)
Written by Taylor Sheridan

“Loving” (22/1 odds)
Written by Jeff Nichols

UPDATED: Oscar Experts predict winners in all 24 categoriesADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“Arrival” (8/15 odds)
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

“Fences” (9/2 odds)
Screenplay by August Wilson
Based on his play

“Hidden Figures” (12/1 odds)
Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly

“Nocturnal Animals” (14/1 odds)
Screenplay by Tom Ford
Based on the novel “Tony and Susan” by Austin Wright

“Deadpool”  (14/1 odds)
Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick
Based on the X-Men comic books

Predict the Oscar winners now; change them till February 26

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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