Writers Guild Awards winners: ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Arrival’ take Best Screenplay honors

The 69th annual edition of the Writers Guild of America Awards was held simultaneously in Los Angeles and New York City on February 19. As Gold Derby predicted, “Arrival” won Best Adapted Screenplay, but there was a surprise for Best Original Screenplay as “Moonlight” prevailed over “Manchester by the Sea” and “La La Land.” What does this mean as we head into the Oscars?

Sign up to get Gold Derby’s free newsletter
with experts’ latest predictions and breaking news

“Moonlight” scribes Barry Jenkins and Tarell McCraney, who just won for their original screenplay at the guild, must contend at the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay as that writers branch ruled their script to be an adaptation as it was based on an unproduced play by McCraney. Meanwhile, “Manchester by the Sea” writer/director Kenneth Lonergan remains the Oscar frontrunner in the race for Best Original Screenplay.

As the WGA Awards only consider screenplays written under the guild’s guidelines or those of several international partners, two leading Oscar contenders were ruled ineligible for consideration: the adaptation of “Lion,” which won the BAFTA, and the original script for “The Lobster.”

UPDATED: Oscar Experts predict winners in all 24 categories

The other original screenplay WGA nominees were the Oscar-contending “Hell or High Water” and “La La Land” as well as “Loving.” That Oscar race is rounded out by “20th Century Women.”

The other WGA adapted screenplay contenders were “Deadpool,” “Fences,” “Hidden Figures” and “Nocturnal Animals.” Of this quartet, only “Fences” and “Hidden Figures” reaped Oscar bids.

Elsewhere, Best Documentary Screenplay honors went to “Command and Control.” As with last year, none of the five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature were in contention for this award.

Join in the fierce debate about the Oscar contenders
going on right now in our red-hot forums

Among the TV winners, FX had a great evening thanks to “The Americans” winning Best Drama Series and “Atlanta” taking the award for Best Comedy Series on its first at-bat, stopping HBO’s “Veep” from claiming its third win in four years (“Louie” won in 2014).

“Atlanta” also took the award for Best New Series, and the two Long-Form prizes went to FX’s anthology “The People v. O.J. Simpson” (Adapted) and HBO’s telefilm “Confirmation” (Original).

Different shows won the episodic prizes, which honored the best individual episodes of TV programming. NBC’s “This Is Us” won Best Episodic Drama for the episode “The Trip,” while Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” claimed Best Episodic Comedy for “Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!”

NEW: Oscar odds in all 24 categories

As predicted, “Saturday Night Live” won Best Variety Sketch Series and “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver ” won the Best Variety Talk race. “Triumph’s Election Special” earned the Best Variety Special prize, while “Hollywood Game Night” won Best Quiz and Audience Participation.

“Bojack Horseman” had two episodes contending for Animated Series and won with “Stop the Presses.” Meanwhile, “Mel vs. The Night Mare of Normal Street” won Best Children’s Script (Episodic) and “Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas” won Best Children’s Script (Long Form or Special).

ABC’s lone surviving soap opera “General Hospital” prevailed once again in the Best Daytime Drama category.

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.

More News from GoldDerby