Writers Guild of America predictions

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This weekend, the last of the big precursors will announce their winners, essentially putting us into the final lap for Oscar. Also the final guild, the Writers Guild of America (or WGA) prize is notable for being the one place where oftentimes Academy Award nominees find themselves ineligible. The WGA has more stringent rules than most, so you’ll sometimes see excluded Oscar frontrunners, surprise nominations, and even this year differing category placement. It all makes for a hard precursor to predict, but a fascinating one to look at. Especially this weekend, they could have a bigger say than usual in terms of what the Academy winds up choosing in Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay.

For comparison, last year we had a similar situation, where an ineligible made things interesting. That one was 12 Years a Slave, which wasn’t able to win Adapted with the WGA, so it went to Captain Phillips, which beat out fellow nominees Before Midnight and The Wolf of Wall Street as well as non nominees August: Osage County and Lone Survivor. On the flip side, last year’s Original lineup matched Oscar completely, as Her won and beat out American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, and Nebraska. This year won’t be exactly the same, but it’s worth taking note of this.

This year, we have an Original lineup that lacks presumed front runner Birdman. Instead, main challengers Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel will be competing with fellow nominees Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler, and Whiplash. All are Academy Award nominees, though Whiplash is competing in Adapted at the Oscars. A win here for that one would be a surprise, and furthermore would throw things into a bit of chaos. It’s a long shot, but likelier than either Foxcatcher or Nightcrawler. I’m almost inclined to be bold and predict that upset, but I think this is very much between Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel. The former has done slightly better than the latter during the guild season, but neither has been on Birdman’s level. I might opt to go with The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I wouldn’t be surprised one bit of Boyhood wound up taking it.

The Adapted field is where we have some non Oscar nominees. Sure, the Academy included American Sniper and The Imitation Game, but those are the only ones. Gone Girl is here and could easily win, even though AMPAS voters snubbed it. The other nominated scripts here belong to Guardians of the Galaxy and Wild, neither of which will win. American Sniper would be a potential game changing choice, but I doubt that will come to pass. This is between Gone Girl and The Imitation Game, with the latter seemingly in a good position to win and establish itself as the one to beat next weekend.

Could there be a surprise or two in store? Sure, which would mainly be represented by Whiplash winning Original and anything besides The Imitation Game winning Adapted. For example, if the winners turn out to be Whiplash and Gone Girl, do we then presume that Birdman remains the Oscar front runner in Best Original Screenplay and that Whiplash now is in position to pull off the upset in Best Adapted Screenplay. I’m hardly suggesting that this is a likely scenario, but it’s an unusual one that should at least be mildly considered. Stranger things have happened, after all.

In the end, I’m going to go with us having a close race in Original between Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, while Adapted mainly sees a competition between Gone Girl and The Imitation Game. My gut says the latter nominees in each category (The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game) wind up winning and set themselves up for Oscar statues next weekend, but I can’t say that these are predictions you can fully take to the bank. A shock could certainly be in store for us on Saturday night. The WGA vote will be really interesting to witness, so sit back and feel free to speculate over the next 48 hours or so…


Adapted Winner – The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)

Original Winner – The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness)

Stay tuned to see what the WGA decides to do!

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