Mon. Mar 30th, 2020

Writers Guild (WGA) and USC Scripter Preview and Predictions: All Eyes on Original Screenplay

The Writers Guild of America and the USC Scripter are both holding their winner announcement ceremonies this weekend; USC Scripter on Saturday night and WGA on Sunday night. Makes sense since the two awards bodies are sharing the same nominees in one category.

Let’s start with the Writers Guild. Correlations between the WGA and Oscar can be difficult because of the WGA’s strict eligibility issues (as well as category designation) but this year the nominees match up almost perfectly.


The Original Screenplay prize at WGA has me, and others, going back and forth with who’s going to win it. Four of the five nominees here are also Oscar-nominated so we can eliminate I, Tonya now. For The Big Sick, this was the film’s sole Oscar nomination so it’s out of the running too.

So we’re left the perceived Best Picture frontrunner (The Shape of Water), the best reviewed Best Picture nominee (Lady Bird) and the film with the most critics’ screenplay wins of 2017 (Get Out). The fact that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is not here due to its ineligibility means that the winner here is still not on a clear path to the Oscar because it will have to face that film there, and also at BAFTA before that.

Most people feel that Get Out or Lady Bird will win WGA but if you’re predicting The Shape of Water to win Best Picture and the current era of BP wins are also bringing with them screenplay wins then wouldn’t it make sense for it to ‘upset’ here? It would make sense if this were a sensical year. Not only has The Shape of Water‘s script been largely seen as its weakest element (it won just a single critics award), it’s been hit with more than one accusation of copying and, in one case, outright plagiarism. That could be enough to sink its chances of winning here. So then, if it’s down to Get Out and Lady Bird, who wins? Again, I go back to what you would be predicting to win Best Picture. If you think Get Out is going to pull it off, go with that. If you think that Lady Bird will fly over the competition, mark it down.

But, then you shift again to how crazy this year is. See what I mean? Almost anything seems possible. My gut tells me that the winner here isn’t necessarily going to telegraph a Best Picture win. I’m going with the film that is the most rewarded, the most socially pungent and needed to be told above all others. I’m going with Get Out.


The Big Sick, Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani

Get Out, Written by Jordan Peele – predicted winner

I, Tonya, Written by Steven Rogers

Lady Bird, Written by Greta Gerwig

The Shape of Water, Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor; Story by Guillermo del Toro


The WGA and Oscar went 5/5 in this category but only one film is also nominated for Best Picture and that’s Call Me By Your Name. In fact, three of these nominees hold Adapted Screenplay as their sole nomination; only Mudbound earned mentions outside of screenplay. Call Me By Your Name is the clear winner here and the best (and probably only) place the film will win at the Oscars, too.

Call Me by Your Name, Screenplay by James Ivory; Based on the Novel by André Aciman – predicted winner

The Disaster Artist, Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; Based on the Book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Logan, Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green; Story by James Mangold; Based on Characters from the X-Men Comic Books and Theatrical Motion Pictures

Molly’s Game, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin; Based on the Book by Molly Bloom

Mudbound, Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees; Based on the Novel by Hillary Jordan


Despite being snubbed at the Oscars, Jane won the majority of critics’ awards for Documentary Feature and the Producers Guild award. There are no Oscar-nominated documentaries represented by this year’s WGA nominees so Jane winning is an easy call.

Betting on Zero, Written by Theodore Braun

Jane, Written by Brett Morgen – predicted winner

No Stone Unturned, Written by Alex Gibney

Oklahoma City, Written by Barak Goodman


The USC Scripter, unlike the Writers Guild, honors both the screenwriter and the original source material’s author or authors, making this is an award only for screen adaptations. Similarly to the Writers Guild though will be the winner. Call Me By Your Name, written by James Ivory from the book by André Aciman should win easily here against the same competition it has at WGA and at the Oscars (save The Lost City of Z and Wonder Woman, neither of which were nominated for either). Moonlight won this last year on its way to its Adapted Screenplay Oscar win.

Author André Aciman and screenwriter James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name – predicted winner
Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for The Disaster Artist, and authors Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell for their nonfiction book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside ‘The Room,’ the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made”
Screenwriters Scott Frank, Michael Green, and James Mangold, and authors Roy Thomas, Len Wein, and John Romita, Sr., for Logan
Screenwriter James Gray and author David Grann for The Lost City of Z
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and author Molly Bloom for Molly’s Game
Screenwriters Dee Rees and Virgil Williams and author Hillary Jordan for Mudbound
Screenwriter Allan Heinberg and author William Moulton Marston for Wonder Woman

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