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‘Deadpool,’ ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land’ Nab Writers Guild Nominations

Variety logo Variety 1/4/2017 Dave McNary
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In a major surprise, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script for “Deadpool” has received a Writers Guild nomination for top adapted screenplay along with Eric Heisserer’s “Arrival,” August Wilson’s “Fences,” Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi’s “Hidden Figures,” and Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals.”

Taylor Sheridan’s “Hell or High Water,” Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” Jeff Nichols’ “Loving,” Kenneth Lonergan’s “Manchester by the Sea,” and Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” have nabbed nods for best original screenplay. Documentary nominations went to Jeff Feuerzeig for “Author: The JT LeRoy Story,” Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser for “Command and Control,” and Alex Gibney’s “Zero Days.”

The WGA will announce the winners of its 69th annual awards on Feb. 19 in simultaneous ceremonies at the Edison Ballroom in New York City and the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills.

The inclusion of “Deadpool,” a breakout hit for Fox that was adapted by Reese and Wernick from the X-Men comic, was by far the most unexpected title in Wednesday’s announcement. Most awards trackers had expected that “Silence,” adapted by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, would receive a nod in the adapted category while Whit Stillman “Love and Friendship” and the Andrew Knight-Robert Schenkkan script for “Hacksaw Ridge” were considered possibilities.

Noah Oppenheim’s screenplay for “Jackie” and Matt Ross’ script for “Captain Fantastic” were also considered strong candidates in the original category, but were overlooked.

“Moonlight,” scripted by Jenkins from a story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, won the best screenplay trophy at the Gotham Awards in November. The drama is contending for best screenplay at the Jan. 8 Golden Globes along with  “Hell or High Water,”  “La La Land,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Nocturnal Animals.”

In late November, the National Board of Review awarded its adapted screenplay trophy in November for “Silence” to Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese and its original trophy for “Manchester by the Sea” to Lonergan.

The WGA’s nominated screenplays were selected by the 12,000 eligible members from 55 contenders in the adapted category and 60 in the original category. The guild excludes screenplays not produced under its jurisdiction or that of another guild so awards candidates “The Jungle Book” and “Lion” were not eligible for the adapted prize and “Florence Foster Jenkins” and “Zootopia” were excluded in the original category.

“The Big Short” won the WGA’s adapted screenplay award last year for Adam McKay and Charles Randolph and “Spotlight” won the original trophy for Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy. Both scripts went on to win the Academy Awards.

Even with exclusions, the WGA winners have a reliable track record of predicting the Oscar winners — which have matched in 16 of the last 22 years in adapted and 14 of the last 22 in original. The most recent screenplay to win an Academy Award while being ineligible for a WGA award was 2015’s “Birdman.”

Gibney’s “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” won the documentary award last year.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY NOMINEES:

Hell or High Water, Written by Taylor Sheridan; CBS Films

La La Land, Written by Damien Chazelle; Lionsgate

Loving, Written by Jeff Nichols; Focus Features

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

Moonlight, Written by Barry Jenkins, Story by Tarell McCraney; A24

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Arrival, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer; Based on the Story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang; Paramount Pictures

Deadpool, Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick; Based on the X-Men Comic Books; Twentieth Century Fox Film

Fences, 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

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

Command and Control, Telescript by Robert Kenner and Eric Schlosser, Story by Brian Pearle and Kim Roberts; Based on the book Command and Control by Eric Schlosser; American Experience Films

Zero Days, Written by Alex Gibney; Magnolia Pictures

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