The awards season narrative has been “the year of women,” as female directors, writers and craftsmen made strong cases for Oscar nominations in categories like best picture and best director. The Writers Guild of America Awards, however, may have missed the memo, nominating just four women across two films: Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman” and Jena Friedman, Erica Rivinoja and Nina Pedrad, three co-writers of ” Borat.”
In the three categories for original, adapted and documentary feature film, a total of 31 screenwriters were nominated, including four women and three from the same feature film.
Many top contenders were ineligible for recognition, including “Nomadland” (Chloé Zhao) and “Pieces of a Woman” (Kata Wéber), as well as independent darlings like “The Assistant” (Kitty Green), “Farewell Amor” (Ekwa Msangi) and “Herself” (Clare Dunne). Despite this fact, there were still plenty of choices.
Nina Pedrad, sister of “Saturday Night Live” alum Nasim Pedrad, is the only woman of color among the nominees, as an Iranian-American. If nominated for an Oscar, she would be only the fourth Asian ever nominated in an adapted screenplay – after Hossein Amini (“Dove’s Wings”) and Wang Hui-ling and Kuo Jung Tsai (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ”) – and the first Iranian woman. If “Borat Later Moviefilm” is nominated for an Oscar, its nine screenwriters would be the most nominated for a movie in history, after 1995’s “Toy Story” which had seven.
Surprise nominee Ramin Bahrani, who wrote and directed Netflix’s “The White Tiger,” is also of Iranian descent and could also join the same company as Pedrad.
Despite stellar reviews and a win at the Gotham Awards for Best Screenplay, Radha Blank’s masterful “The Forty-Year-Old Version,” which she wrote, directed, and starred in, didn’t make the cut, even with the power from Netflix. Channing Godfrey Peoples Vertical Entertainment’s “Miss Juneteenth” is also a Gotham Award winner for Best Actress Nicole Beharie, but the indie film couldn’t squeeze into the mix.
Oscar and WGA winner Sofia Coppola’s (“Lost in Translation”) legacy couldn’t help her cross the finish line for delicious “On the Rocks” with Rashida Jones and Bill Murray. The bow at the Sundance Film Festival couldn’t help Robin Wright’s directorial debut, Focus Features’ “Land,” and its co-writers Jesse Chatham and Erin Dignam.
Focus Features’ “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” by writer and director Eliza Hittman was snubbed despite winning the third-highest Critics’ Precursor Award this year for its original screenplay, including from the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics.
Another big NYFCC winner, A24’s “First Cow” by co-writer and director Kelly Reichardt, was dropped from the list of adapted screenplays, despite earning the third most wins for adapted works. this season. She wasn’t the only one to take the hit, as Eleanor Catton’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel “Emma” failed to make it into the lineup, along with other considerable feature films like “Shirley” by Sarah Gibbons, “The United States” by Suzan-Lori Parks. against Billie Holiday” and “Cherry” by Angela Otstot and Jessica Goldberg.
Despite making a long list of BAFTA nominations, due to be announced on March 9, Rose Glass’ A24’s “Saint Maud” couldn’t find favor with the band. Amazon Studios couldn’t get enough momentum for “I’m Your Woman” and its co-writers and directors Julia Hart and Jordan Horowitz.
There are a few notable inclusions in the nominations. Shaka King, Keith Lucas and Kenneth Lucas got mentions for “Judas and the Black Messiah.” If this translates to the Academy’s attention, it will be the fifth time black screenwriters have been nominated in the original screenplay. It would also be the first time that multiple black writers have been selected for the same film in the category.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, who wrote the adaptation of August Wilson’s “My Rainey’s Black Bottom,” would be the 13th black screenwriter ever nominated in the Oscar category.
The Writers Guild Awards will take place on Sunday, March 21, 2021.