'La La Land,' 'Moonlight' Among WGA Theatrical Screenplay Nominations; 'Westworld,' 'Stranger Things' Lead TV Noms

5:31 PM 12/8/2016

by Gregg Kilday and Mikey O'Connell

Reigning comedy champ 'Veep' also scores, while 'Better Call Saul' and 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' dominate in TV nominations; 'Manchester by the Sea' is honored. Documentary noms also were unveiled Wednesday. Awards will be handed out Feb. 19 at simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles.

Moonlight-Westworld-La La Land-Split - Publicity-H 2017
Courtesy of David Bornfriend/A24; HBO; Dale Robinette/Lionsgate

As the Writers Guild of America on Wednesday announced its nominees in the theatrical and documentary screenplay categories, awards season favorites La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight each claimed a spot in the original screenplay category for their respective writer-directors Damien Chazelle, Kenneth Lonergan and Barry Jenkins.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning screenwriter August Wilson, who died in 2005, earned a posthumous adapted screenplay nomination for his 1983 play Fences.

The tongue-in-check superhero movie Deadpool also popped up in the adapted screenplay category, where its writing team of Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick claimed a nomination for adapting the X-Men comics character to the screen.

Joining La La Land, Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight in the original screenplay category were Taylor Sheridan's Texas-set crime thriller Hell or High Water and Jeff Nichols' Loving, a look at the interracial married couple Mildred and Richard Loving, whose names became synonymous with the landmark Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia.

The category could look quite different, however, when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its nominations on Jan. 24, since the Academy has classified both Moonlight and Loving as adapted, rather than original, screenplays.

In addition to Deadpool and Fences, the adapted category includes the sci-fi film Arrival, written by Eric Heisserer; Hidden Figures, which tells of the black female mathematicians who came to the aid of the U.S. space program in the 1960s, penned by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi; and Nocturnal Animals, the contemporary psychological thriller written by Tom Ford, who also directed.

While the cheeky Deadpool might at first have appeared like something of a surprise — claiming a spot that might have gone to more dramatic features like Silence, Hacksaw Ridge or Sully — the movie, starring Ryan Reynolds, is actually doing quite well this week, having also earned an ACE Eddie nomination and another nom from the Casting Society of America's Artios Awards.

Among the TV nominees, new shows vying for the top prize for scribes include HBO drama Westworld, Netflix breakout Stranger Things, NBC darling This Is Us and critical favorite comedies such as FX's Atlanta and Better Things. Veep, last year's top comedy, also scored a key nomination, while drama sees mostly new blood on account of departed victor Mad Men.

Bragging rights for mentions go to AMC's Better Call Saul and Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Each scored a nomination in the drama and comedy races, respectively, and they nabbed multiple episodic mentions — three for Better Call Saul and two for Kimmy Schmidt.

The 69th annual Writers Guild Awards will be handed out Sunday, Feb. 19, at simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles. Nominees for television, new media, radio, news, promotional writing and graphic animation were announced in December. Video game writing nominations were unveiled Thursday, Jan. 12th.

  • Original Screenplay

    Moonlight (WINNER)
    Written by Barry Jenkins, story by Tarell McCraney; A24

    Hell or High Water
    Written by Taylor Sheridan; CBS Films

    La La Land
    Written by Damien Chazelle; Lionsgate

    Written by Jeff Nichols; Focus Features

    Manchester by the Sea
    Written by Kenneth Lonergan; Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions


  • Adapted Screenplay

    Arrival  (WINNER)
    Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on the story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang; Paramount Pictures 

    Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, based on the X-Men comic books; Twentieth Century Fox Film

    Screenplay by August Wilson, based on his play; Paramount Pictures 

    Hidden Figures
    Screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly; Twentieth Century Fox Film

    Nocturnal Animals
    Screenplay by Tom Ford, based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright; Focus Features

  • Documentary Screenplay

    Command and Control (WINNER)
    Telescript by Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser, story by Brian Pearle and Kim Roberts, based on the book by Eric Schlosser; American Experience Films

    Author: The JT LeRoy Story
    Written by Jeff Feuerzeig; Amazon Studios

    Zero Days
    Written by Alex Gibney; Magnolia Pictures

  • Drama Series

    The Americans (WINNER)
    Written by Peter Ackerman, Tanya Barfield, Joshua Brand, Joel Fields, Stephen Schiff, Joe Weisberg, Tracey Scott Wilson; FX

    Better Call Saul
    Written by Ann Cherkis, Vince Gilligan, Jonathan Glatzer, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, Heather Marion, Thomas Schnauz, Gordon Smith; AMC

    Game of Thrones
    Written by David Benioff, Bryan Cogman, Dave Hill, D.B. Weiss; HBO

    Stranger Things
    Written by Paul Dichter, Justin Doble, The Duffer Brothers, Jessica Mecklenburg, Jessie Nickson-Lopez, Alison Tatlock; Netflix

    Written by Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter; Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu; HBO

  • Comedy Series

    Atlanta (WINNER)
    Written by Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Stefani Robinson, Paul Simms; FX

    Silicon Valley
    Written by Megan Amram, Alec Berg, Donick Cary, Adam Countee, Jonathan Dotan, Mike Judge, Carrie Kemper, John Levenstein, Dan Lyons, Carson Mell, Dan O’Keefe, Clay Tarver, Ron Weiner; HBO

    Written by Arabella Anderson, Bridget Bedard, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, Jessi Klein, Stephanie Kornick, Ethan Kuperberg, Ali Liebegott, Our Lady J, Faith Soloway, Jill Soloway; Amazon Studios

    Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
    Written by Emily Altman, Robert Carlock, Azie Mira Dungey, Tina Fey, Lauren Gurganous, Sam Means, Dylan Morgan, Marlena Rodriguez, Dan Rubin, Meredith Scardino, Josh Siegal, Allison Silverman, Leila Strachan; Netflix

    Written by Rachel Axler, Sean Gray, Alex Gregory, Peter Huyck, Eric Kenward, Billy Kimball, Steve Koren, David Mandel, Jim Margolis, Lew Morton, Georgia Pritchett, Will Smith, Alexis Wilkinson; HBO

  • New Series

    Atlanta (WINNER)
    Written by Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Stefani Robinson, Paul Simms; FX

    Better Things
    Written by Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K., Cindy Chupack, Gina Fattore; FX

    Stranger Things
    Written by Paul Dichter, Justin Doble, The Duffer Brothers, Jessica Mecklenburg, Jessie Nickson-Lopez, Alison Tatlock; Netflix

    This Is Us
    Written by Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger, Bekah Brunstetter, Dan Fogelman, Vera Herbert, Joe Lawson, Kay Oyegun, Aurin Squire, K.J. Steinberg, Donald Todd; NBC

    Written by Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter, Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu; HBO

  • Longform - Original

    Confirmation (WINNER)
    Written by Susannah Grant; HBO

    American Crime
    Written by Julie Hébert, Sonay Hoffman, Keith Huff, Stacy A. Littlejohn, Kirk A. Moore, Davy Perez, Diana Son; ABC

    Harley and the Davidsons
    Written by Seth Fisher, Nick Schenk, Evan Wright; Discovery Channel

    Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’le
    Written by Dianne Houston; Lifetime

  • Longform - Adapted

    American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson (WINNER)
    Written by Scott Alexander, Joe Robert Cole, D.V. DeVincentis, Maya Forbes, Larry Karaszewski, Wally Wolodarsky, based on the book The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin; FX

    Written by Bridget Carpenter, Brigitte Hales, Joe Henderson, Brian Nelson, Quinton Peeples, based on the novel by Stephen King; Hulu

    Written by Ben Robbins, inspired by the book The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth by Brian Ross; ABC

    The Night Of
    Written by Richard Price, Steve Zaillian, based on the BBC Series Criminal Justice created by Peter Moffat; HBO

    Written by Lawrence Konner, Alison McDonald, Charles Murray, Mark Rosenthal, based on the book by Alex Haley; History Channel

  • Shortform New Media - Original

    "The Party" (The Commute) (WINNER)
    Written by Linsey Stewart & Dane Clark; youtube.com

    "Episode 101" (Now We're Talking)
    Written by Tug Coker, Tommy Dewey; go90.com

    "Escape the Room" (Life Ends at 30)
    Written by Michael Field; vimeo.com

    "Itsy Bitsy Spider" Episode 1 (Thug Passion)
    Written by Motrya Tomycz; vimeo.com

  • Shortform New Media - Adapted

    "Passage" Part 4 (Fear the Walking Dead) (WINNER)
    Written by Lauren Signorino & Mike Zunic; amc.com

    "Under Siege" (The Strain)
    Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle, Based on the novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan; fxnetworks.com

  • Animation

    “Stop the Presses” (BoJack Horseman) (WINNER)
    Written by Joe Lawson; Netflix

    “Fish Out of Water” (BoJack Horseman)
    Written by Elijah Aron & Jordan Young; Netflix

    “Barthood” (The Simpsons)
    Written by Dan Greaney; Fox

    “First Day of Rule” (Elena of Avalor)
    Written by Craig Gerber; Disney Channel

    “A Princess on Lothal” (Star Wars Rebels)
    Written by Steven Melching; Disney XD


  • Episodic Drama

    “The Trip” (This Is Us) (WINNER)
    Written by Vera Herbert; NBC

    “Gloves Off” (Better Call Saul)
    Written by Gordon Smith; AMC

    “I Am a Storm” (Shameless)
    Written by Sheila Callaghan; Showtime

    “Klick” (Better Call Saul)
    Written by Heather Marion & Vince Gilligan; AMC

    “Switch” (Better Call Saul)
    Written by Thomas Schnauz; AMC

    “The Winds of Winter” (Game of Thrones)
    Written for Television by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss; HBO

  • Episodic Comedy

    “Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) (WINNER)
    Written by Robert Carlock; Netflix

    “Kimmy Finds Her Mom!” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
    Written by Tina Fey & Sam Means; Netflix

    “Pilot” (One Mississippi)
    Written by Diablo Cody & Tig Notaro; Amazon Studios

    “R-A-Y-C-Ray-Cation” (Speechless)
    Written by Carrie Rosen & Seth Kurland; ABC

    “Streets on Lock” (Atlanta)
    Written by Stephen Glover; FX

    “A Taste of Zephyria” (Son of Zorn)
    Written by Dan Mintz; Fox

  • Video Game Writing

    Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (WINNER)
    Written by Neil Druckmann, Josh Scherr; Additional Writing Tom Bissell, Ryan James; Naughty Dog

    Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
    Written by Brian Bloom; Activision

    Far Cry Primal
    Story by Jean-Sébastien Décant, Ian C. Ryan, Kevin Shortt; Lead Writers Ian C. Ryan, Kevin Shortt; Writers Lynne Kamm, Susan Patrick; Ubisoft

    MR. ROBOT 1.51exfiltratiOn
    Story by Adam Hines, Kor Adana; Written by Adam Hines; Night School Studio