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Writers Guild Awards Nominations Boost Comedies ‘Booksmart’ and ‘Knives Out’

Both Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig landed WGA nods this year, while Quentin Tarantino remains ineligible.

“Booksmart”

Annapurna

Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America, East have announced nominations for outstanding achievement in screenwriting during 2019. Following up two big Golden Globes wins, rising awards contender “1917” landed an Original Screenplay nomination for Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, along with nods for comedies “Knives Out,” “Booksmart,” and Globes-winner “Parasite,” as well as Noah Baumbach’s drama “Marriage Story.”

Baumbach’s partner, writer-director Greta Gerwig, landed a nomination for Adapted Screenplay for “Little Women.” Shockingly omitted was Anthony McCarten’s script for Netflix’s “The Two Popes,” which may turn up on Oscar nominations morning in the less competitive Adapted category; the WGA considered it as Original because McCarten’s play on which it was based had not been produced when the script was written.

And documentarian Alex Gibney scored not one but two nominations, for “Citizen K” as well as “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley.”

Original Screenplay

“1917,” Written by Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns; Universal Pictures

“Booksmart,” Written by Emily Halpern & Sarah Haskins and Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman; United Artists Releasing

“Knives Out,” Written by Rian Johnson; Lionsgate

“Marriage Story,” Written by Noah Baumbach; Netflix

“Parasite,” Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, Story by Bong Joon Ho; Neon

BTS: Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) Director/Writer Greta Gerwig on the set of Greta Gerwig's LITTLE WOMEN.

Saoirse Ronan and Greta Gerwig on the set of “Little Women”

Wilson Webb

Adapted Screenplay

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster, Inspired by the article “Can You Say…Hero?” by Tom Junod; TriStar Pictures

“The Irishman,” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian, Based upon the book “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt; Netflix

“Jojo Rabbit,” Screenplay by Taika Waititi, Based on the book “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens; Fox Searchlight

“Joker,” Written by Todd Phillips & Scott Silver, Based on characters from DC Comics; Warner Bros. Pictures

“Little Women,” Screenplay by Greta Gerwig, Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott; Sony Pictures

Documentary Screenplay

“Citizen K,” Written by Alex Gibney; Greenwich Entertainment

“Foster,” Written by Mark Jonathan Harris; HBO Documentary Films

“The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” Written by Alex Gibney; HBO Documentary Films

“Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People,” Written by Robert Seidman & Oren Rudavsky; First Run Features

“The Kingmaker,” Written by Lauren Greenfield; Showtime Documentary Films

As always, a number of films weren’t eligible for WGA nominations. One way the Guild leverages clout is by withholding non-signatories from being part of the WGA Awards. That’s why unlike other guilds, a clump of indie, British, and animated movies find themselves excluded every year.

A WGA nomination isn’t essential for Oscar nomination. Exceptions include American indie “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Iranian Oscar-winner “A Separation,” Oscar-winning British films “Les Miserables” and “The Favourite,” and all Pixar animated contenders, from “Up” to “Incredibles 2.” “The Artist” and “The King’s Speech” both won Best Picture without the benefit of a WGA nomination.

One person who never appears on those ballots: Quentin Tarantino. After the WGA granted the young screenwriter only a story credit on Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers,” Tarantino refused to join the guild. He also likes the credit: “Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino,” which the WGA won’t allow. And so he was not included among the 64 original and 44 adapted screenplays on the WGA ballots. That shouldn’t roadblock the possibility of a “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” Best Screenplay Oscar nomination; he’s had three WGA-free nominations for Best Original Screenplay, and two wins for “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained.” (Tarantino did eventually join the DGA, which doesn’t exclude non-members from its awards.)

The WGA maintains jurisdiction over whether scripts are produced under a Writer’s Guild contract, and who finally gets credit on a screenplay. (The WGA doesn’t have jurisdiction over most animated films.)

Tarantino is in some good company this year. Also WGA-ineligible are scripts for animated “How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World,” “Missing Link,” “Klaus,” “Toy Story 4,” and “Frozen II” as well as indie American screenplays by Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”), Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz (“The Peanut Butter Falcon”), Jimmie Fails, Rob Richert, and Joe Talbot (“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”), Trey Edward Shults (“Waves”), and Ari Aster (“Midsommar”), and European entries from Pedro Almodovar (“Pain and Glory”), Julian Fellowes (“Downton Abbey”), Tom Edge (“Judy”), and Lee Hall and Tom Hooper (“Cats”).

WGA Awards winners will be presented in simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles on February 1.

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