The Writers Guild of America (WGA) pulled a few surprises this week, giving The White Tiger a significant boost.
While some films were ineligible at WGA (most notably Nomadland), one big snub was First Cow from Kelly Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, based on his novel “The Half Life.” Word from WGA members was that A24 didn’t get screeners to them in time for voting and they didn’t have a chance to see it. First Cow wasn’t eligible for BAFTA (it has BFCA and USC noms) but it does have something that no one else in this category has: the Best Film win from the New York Critics Circle. Here’s why that’s important: no film has ever won NYFCC’s top prize and gone on to earn no Oscar nominations. Ever. By all accounts, Adapted Screenplay is First Cow‘s best shot and while stats are only stats until they aren’t, academically it’s the smart move to say it’s in.
But who does it kick out? Nomadland, One Night in Miami, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The Father (also WGA-ineligible) seem safe. The first Borat was Oscar-nominated and the second film is an even stronger awards contender. The aforementioned The White Tiger is quietly surging. While those are possibilities, it’s News of the World that could stand in Evie’s way. One of the season’s few big studio films and from two previous Oscar-nominees, it can easily take that last spot. But I’m sticking with First Cow, for now.
The Writers Guild Awards are March 21, six days after Oscar nominations are announced.
Here are my ranked 2021 Oscar predictions in Adapted Screenplay for February.
Green – moves up ↑; Red – moves down ↓; Blue – new entry this month +; Black – no change ↔
1. Nomadland ↔ (Searchlight Pictures) – USC, BAFTA longlist, BFCA
Chloé Zhao (based on the book “Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century” by Jessica Bruder)
2. One Night in Miami… ↑ (Amazon Studios) – USC, BAFTA longlist, BFCA , WGA
Kemp Powers (based on the play “One Night in Miami…” by Kemp Powers)
3. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom ↓ (Netflix) – USC, BAFTA longlist, BFCA , WGA
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (based on the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” by August Wilson)
4. The Father ↔ (Sony Pictures Classics) – BAFTA longlist, BFCA
Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller (based on the play “Le Père” by Florian Zeller)
5. First Cow ↔ (A24) – USC, BFCA
Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond (based on the novel “The Half Life” by Jonathan Raymond)
6. News of the World ↔ (Universal Pictures) – BAFTA longlist, BFCA , WGA
Luke Davies, Paul Greengrass (based on the novel “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles)
7. Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm ↑ (Amazon) – BAFTA longlist, WGA
Peter Baynham, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jena Friedman, Anthony Hines, Lee Kern, Dan Mazer, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Swimer (based on characters created by Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips)
8. The White Tiger ↑ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist, WGA
Ramin Bahrani (based on the novel “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga)
9. I’m Thinking of Ending Things ↓ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist
Charlie Kaufman (based on the novel “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” by Iain Reid)
10. The Mauritanian ↑ (STX Films) – BAFTA longlist
M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, Schrab Noshirvani (based on the novel “Guantanamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Salahi)
Emma. ↔ (Focus Features) Eleanor Catton (based on the book “Emma” by Jane Austen)
French Exit ↔ (Sony Pictures Classics)
Patrick deWitt (based on the novel “French Exit” by Patrick deWitt)
Hillbilly Elegy ↔ (Netflix)
Vanessa Taylor (based on the novel “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance)
The Midnight Sky ↔ (Netflix)
Michael Bronner (based on the novel “Guantanamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Salahi)
The Personal History of David Copperfield ↔ (Searchlight Pictures)
Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci (based on “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens)
Pieces of a Woman ↓ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist
Kata Wéber (based on the play “Pieces of a Woman”)
The United States vs. Billie Holiday v (Paramount Pictures)
Suzan-Lori Parks (based on “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” by Johann Hari)
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures