Just when you thought this season couldn’t get any weirder, the Writers Guild of America Awards threw in yet another curveball on Sunday by naming “Eighth Grade” Best Original Screenplay and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Best Adapted Screenplay. Not only is this the first time since the WGA established these two categories 34 years ago that the top film prizes went to two non-Best Picture Oscar nominees, but now it could be the first time in 16 years that neither WGA champ repeats at the Oscars.
“Eighth Grade,” written by Bo Burnham, wasn’t even nominated at the Oscars, so there’s no chance of a repeat there. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, is nominated, but it’s currently in third place in our odds, behind “BlacKkKlansman” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and ahead of “A Star Is Born” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Save for “Buster Scruggs,” which was replaced by “Black Panther,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” beat all of these at WGA.
The last time neither WGA winner matched with the Oscars was when 2002’s “Bowling for Columbine” (original) and “The Hours” (adapted) triumphed at WGA, but Oscar went with “Talk to Her” (original) and “The Pianist” (adapted). Even those come with caveats: Both Oscar winners were ineligible at WGA, so who knows if they would’ve also won there.
SEE ‘Eighth Grade’ is the only film this year to win at WGA and DGA Awards: We demand an Oscars do-over!
Until “Eighth Grade,” “Bowling for Columbine” was also the first and only Best Original Screenplay WGA winner to be snubbed at the Oscars (1987’s “Roxanne” has this dubious honor in Best Adapted Screenplay). And had the WGA’s Best Documentary Screenplay category existed then (it was created two years later), “Bowling” would not have won this at all; it beat three Oscar nominees, “Far From Heaven,” “Gangs of New York” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” along with “Antwone Fisher.”
So since “Eighth Grade” flunked with the academy — or more accurately, the academy inexplicably failed “Eighth Grade,” which also upset at the Directors Guild of America Awards with a Best First-Time Director win for Burnham over Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”) — who has the edge for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar? “Eighth Grade”‘s win was probably the best news for “The Favourite,” which was ineligible at WGA and is in the No. 1 spot in our predictions. “Green Book,” its closest competitor, losing WGA stalls its momentum a bit, and neither “Roma” and “Vice,” in third and fifth, respectively, is considered a frontrunner in this race; “First Reformed” is in fourth place.
PREDICT the Oscar winners now; change them until Feb. 24
Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on Feb. 24.
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