Every year, the Writers Guild of America leaves out several Oscar-contending screenplays in its award nominations. But this year’s ineligible list is massive, from “Mank” to “Nomadland.” The WGA maintains jurisdiction over whether scripts are produced under a Writer’s Guild contract, and who finally gets credit on a screenplay (they do not cover most animated films, like this year’s Pixar Oscar contender, “Soul”). The guild insists on withholding non-signatories from being part of the WGA Awards.
That’s why, unlike the other guilds, every year a long list of WGA ineligible indie, British, and animated movies are excluded. A WGA nomination isn’t essential for Oscar nomination; plenty of 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.
The WGA nominees listed below are less predictive than an indication of what’s losing and gaining heat, from the missing early 2020 releases “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” “The King of Staten Island,” and “Da 5 Bloods,” to such surging movies as “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Sound of Metal,” and “Promising Young Woman,” which will get an extra boost moving forward toward Oscar voting, which begins March 5 and ends March 10, ahead of the nominations announcement March 15:
“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm”
Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern, Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad, Based on Characters Created by Sacha Baron Cohen; Amazon Studios
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Screenplay by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Based on the Play Written by August Wilson; Netflix
“News of the World”
Screenplay by Paul Greengrass and Luke Davies, Based upon the Novel by Paulette Jiles; Universal Pictures
“One Night in Miami”
Screenplay by Kemp Powers, Based on the Stage Play “One Night in Miami” by Kemp Powers; Amazon Studios
“The White Tiger”
Screenplay by Ramin Bahrani, Based on the Book “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga; Netflix
“Judas and the Black Messiah”
Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King, Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas; Warner Bros.
Screenplay by Andy Siara, Story by Andy Siara & Max Barbakow; Hulu
“Promising Young Woman”
Written by Emerald Fennell; Focus Features
“Sound of Metal”
Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder, Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance; Amazon Studios
“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
Written by Aaron Sorkin; Netflix
“All In: The Fight for Democracy”
Written by Jack Youngelson; Amazon Studios
Written by Mark Monroe and Bryan Fogel; Briarcliff Entertainment
“Herb Alpert Is…”
Written by John Scheinfeld; Abramorama
Written by Gabe Polsky; Universal Pictures
“Totally Under Control”
Written by Alex Gibney; Neon
One Oscar perennial who never appears on the WGA ballot: Quentin Tarantino. That’s because back in 1994, the WGA granted the young screenwriter a mere story credit on Oliver Stone’s “Natural Born Killers.” Since then, Tarantino has refused to join the guild. Last year he was not among the 64 original and 44 adapted screenplays on the WGA ballots, which did not impede the inevitability of a “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood” Oscar nomination, his fourth WGA-free nomination for Best Original Screenplay, including two wins (“Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained”). (Tarantino eventually broke down and joined the Directors Guild, which doesn’t exclude non-members from its awards.)
Among the films not appearing on the WGA ballot this year are American Oscar contenders Pete Docter, Mike Jones, and Kemp Powers (“Soul”), Lee Isaac Chung (“Minari”), the late Jack Fincher (“Mank”), Chloé Zhao (“Nomadland”), and Deborah Eisenberg (“Let Them All Talk”), as well as French playwright Florian Zeller (“The Father”), Italian writer-director Edoardo Ponti (“The Life Ahead”), Hungarian playwright Kata Wéber (“Pieces of a Woman”), UK Jane Austen adapter Eleanor Catton (“Emma”), and UK writer-directors Francis Lee (“Ammonite”) and Armando Iannucci (“The Personal History of David Copperfield”), among many others.
WGA winners will be presented on March 21.