Oscars Watch 2018: How the WGA Award Winners Fit Into the Scorecard
The 2018 WGA Award winners were announced on Sunday, thus nearly completing all the precursor awards before the 90th Academy Awards are handed out March 4 (the BAFTAs are still to come on February 18).
There were no real surprises in the film categories at the WGA Awards. As predicted, Jordan Peele took home the Original Screenplay award for Get Out, his excellent horrific social commentary, while James Ivory’s adaptation of André Aciman’s novel Call Me By Your Name won for Adapted Screenplay. At this point, these two seem locks to take home Oscar gold as well.
The other Oscar nominees in the Original Screenplay category are strong, especially Martin McDonagh’s searing and contemplative Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani’s poignantly hilarious The Big Sick and Greta Gerwig’s earnest Ladybird.
Peele has the edge, however, since he has been winning in the screenplay categories with many of the critic associations. Some are predicting Get Out might even win Best Picture, but it’s doubtful. Historically, the Academy doesn’t usually award top honors to horror films (Silence of the Lambs was definitely an exception), and the film is already behind the eight-ball with heavier front-runners like The Shape of Water and Three Billboards standing out. So, if Get Out wins something, the Original Screenplay Oscar is definitely the best way to properly honor it. It’s just a freaking great script, the complete embodiment of the word “original.”
Same goes for Call Me By Your Name‘s beautiful script from James Ivory. The competition isn’t quite a stiff in the Adapted category, save for a few stand-outs like Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire Molly’s Game and Virgil Williams and Dee Rees’ affecting Mudbound. Also, Ivory is sort of Hollywood royalty.
He is best known for being part of an amazing trio of creators, who in the late 1980s and ’90s, produced some of the best period films of all time, comparable to the legendary David Lean. Along with producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Ivory directed such stellar classics as A Room with a View, Remains of the Day and the Oscar-winning Howards End.
Now, later in his career, he has concentrated more on producing films, including Call Me By Your Name but was inspired enough to also write the screenplay from French author André Aciman’s novel. It’s a languid, gorgeous and poetic script, delivered to perfection by its actors Timotheé Chalamet, Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg. And here’s the ringer: Ivory has never won an Oscar, despite being nominated three times before (in the directing category). Oh yeah, the Academy is definitely going to give this man his career award.
Side rant: Filmmaker Brett Morgen won the WGA Award for his superb documentary Jane, a look at renowned primatologist Jane Goodall and her early days researching chimpanzee behavior in Tanzania. Jane has already won several other awards, including Best Documentary from the PGA, but for some inexplicable reason, the film did not snag an Oscar nomination.
Much like previous stellar documentaries that didn’t make the Oscars cut, such as Hoop Dreams and Roger and Me, some prognosticators are saying Jane is too popular for the Academy’s documentary branch. The 300 or so voters generally gravitate towards the underdogs or films they feel show more depth, rather than anoint a film like Jane, which uses archival footage and is probably considered more of a fluff piece. It’s a shame, really.
As mentioned, the British Academy Film Awards will be handing out their BAFTA Film Awards next weekend, so stay tuned to see how they add the final fuel to the 2018 Oscars race.