Surprise! ‘Eighth Grade’ and ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’ Top Writers Guild Awards

     February 18, 2019

“To all my other nominees in this category, have fun at the Oscars, losers!” Thus ended the acceptance speech of Bo Burnham, who took home the Best Original Screenplay award at the Writers Guild of America Awards last night, besting competitors like Green Book, Vice, and Roma despite the fact that Burnham’s Eighth Grade wasn’t even nominated in the category at the Oscars. It was a thrilling and genuinely surprising moment, and indeed this year’s two big WGA Awards feature winners solidified this as the most unpredictable Oscar race in recent memory.

The Adapted Screenplay honors went to Nicole Holofencer and Jeff Whitty for the excellent Can You Ever Forgive Me?, who beat out Oscar favorites like BlacKkKlansman and If Beale Street Could Talk. Indeed, it’s hard to say the Eighth Grade and Can You Ever Forgive Me? wins weren’t deserving—those are two excellent screenplays—but those looking to the WGA Awards to firm up some of their Oscar predications came away more confused than ever. A Green Book or Roma win may have signaled further guild support for one of those films, making a Best Picture win that much more likely. But delightfully, the Writers Guild went another way.

Burnham is on a truly odd awards streak, as he also beat out Bradley Cooper at the Directors Guild of America Awards for Best First-Time Feature despite the fact that—and I cannot stress this enough—Eighth Grade was nominated for a whopping zero Oscars. What a weird and kind of great thing!

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Image via HBO

Elsewhere at the WGA Awards, The Americans and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won Best Drama and Comedy series, while Bill Hader continues his well-deserved awards streak following DGA and Emmy wins with a WGA win for Best New Series and Episodic Comedy for his tremendous HBO show Barry. The long form awards (which is basically the WGA’s version of miniseries) went to Castle Rock and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, while Nathan For You bested SNL for Comedy/Variety Sketch Series and God of War won for Videogame Writing.

Check out the full list of writers guild awards winners below.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Eighth Grade, Written by Bo Burnham; A24

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, Based on the book by Lee Israel; Fox Searchlight

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

Bathtubs Over Broadway, Written by Ozzy Inguanzo & Dava Whisenant; Focus Features

TELEVISION AND NEW MEDIA WINNERS

DRAMA SERIES

The Americans, Written by Peter Ackerman, Hilary Bettis, Joshua Brand, Joel Fields, Sarah Nolen, Stephen Schiff, Justin Weinberger, Joe Weisberg, Tracey Scott Wilson; FX Networks

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Image via Fox Searchlight

COMEDY SERIES

The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselWritten by Kate Fodor, Noah Gardenswartz, Daniel Goldfarb, Jen Kirkman, Sheila Lawrence, Daniel Palladino, Amy Sherman Palladino; Prime Video

NEW SERIES 

Barry, Written by Alec Berg, Duffy Boudreau, Bill Hader, Emily Heller, Liz Sarnoff, Ben Smith, Sarah Solemani; HBO

ORIGINAL LONG FORM

Castle Rock, Writers: Marc Bernardin, Scott Brown, Lila Byock, Mark Lafferty, Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason, Gina Welch, Vinnie Wilhelm; Hulu

ADAPTED LONG FORM

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Writers: Maggie CohnTom Rob Smith, Based on the book Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth; FX Networks

ORIGINAL SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA 

Class of Lies, Written by Tessa Leigh Williams; Snapchat

ADAPTED SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA

The Walking Dead: Red Machete, Written by Nick Bernardone; AMC.com

ANIMATION 

“Bart’s Not Dead” (The Simpsons), Written by Stephanie Gillis; Fox

EPISODIC DRAMA

“Paean To The People” (Homeland), Written by Alex Gansa; Showtime

EPISODIC COMEDY

“Chapter One: ‘Make Your Mark’” (Barry), Written by Alec Berg & Bill Hader; HBO

COMEDY/VARIETY TALK SERIES

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Writers: Tim Carvell, Raquel D’Apice, Josh Gondelman, Dan Gurewitch, Jeff Maurer, Daniel O’Brien, John Oliver, Brian Parise, Owen Parsons, Ben Silva, Will Tracy, Jill Twiss, Seena Vali, Juli Weiner; HBO

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Image via Amazon Prime

COMEDY/VARIETY SKETCH SERIES

Nathan For You, Writers: Leo AllenNathan Fielder, Carrie Kemper, Michael Koman, Adam Locke-Norton, Eric Notarnicola; Comedy Central

COMEDY/VARIETY SPECIALS

The Fake News with Ted Nelms, Written by John Aboud, Andrew Blitz, Michael Colton, Ed Helms, Elliott Kalan, Joseph Randazzo, Sara Schaefer; Comedy Central

QUIZ AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Head Writer: Stephen A. Melcher, Jr.; Writers: Kyle Beakley, Tom Cohen, Patricia A. Cotter, Ryan Hopak, Gary Lucy, James Rowley, Ann Slichter, Dylan Snowden; Disney/ABC Syndication

DAYTIME DRAMA

General Hospital, Head Writers: Shelly AltmanChristopher Van Etten; Writers: Barbara Bloom, Anna Theresa Cascio, Suzanne Flynn, Charlotte Gibson, Lucky Gold, Kate Hall, Elizabeth Korte, Daniel James O’Connor, Donny Sheldon, Scott Sickles; ABC

CHILDREN’S EPISODIC AND SPECIALS

“The Ersatz Elevator: Part One” (A Series of Unfortunate Events), Teleplay by Daniel Handler; Netflix

(No nominees for Children’s Long Form this year.)

DOCUMENTARY SCRIPT – CURRENT EVENTS

“Trump’s Takeover” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS

DOCUMENTARY SCRIPT – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS

“The Eugenics Crusade” (American Experience), Written by Michelle Ferrari; PBS

NEWS SCRIPT – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT

“Catastrophe” (60 Minutes), Written by Scott PelleyKatie Kerbstat, Nicole Young; CBS News

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Image via A24

NEWS SCRIPT – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY

“Wounds of War” (60 Minutes), Written by Scott PelleyKatie Kerbstat, Nicole Young; CBS News

DIGITAL NEWS

“Inside The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games,” Written by Cecilia D’Anastasio; Kotaku.com

RADIO/AUDIO WINNERS

RADIO/AUDIO DOCUMENTARY

“RFK: 50 Years After Shots Rang Out at The Ambassador Hotel,” Written by Andrew Evans; ABC News Radio

RADIO/AUDIO NEWS SCRIPT—REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT

“Remembering The Good, The Bad and the Brilliant,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS News Radio

RADIO/AUDIO NEWS SCRIPT – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY

“John McCain: A Life of Service,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS News Radio

PROMOTIONAL WINNER

ON-AIR PROMOTION (RADIO OR TELEVISION)

“Tribute to Star Trek for the 2018 Creative Arts Emmys,” Written by Sean Brogan; CBS

VIDEOGAME WINNER

VIDEOGAME WRITING

God of War, Written by Matt Sophos, Richard Zangrande Gaubert, Cory Barlog; Story and Narrative Design Lead Matt Sophos; Story and Narrative DesignRichard Zangrande Gaubert; Narrative Design Orion Walker, Adam Dolin; Sony Interactive Entertainment

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Image via Sony Interactive Entertainment

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