WGA Award Nominees and Winners for the Screen

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WGA Award Nominees and Winners for the Screen

A self-aware operating system shared top honors with a lifeboat when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) awards for Original and Adapted Screenplay were declared at the WGA’s annual ceremonies on February 1, 2014. Wait…we suddenly have a new movie idea to pitch for you! Imagine a lifeboat equipped with an intelligent operating system…

We’re kidding, of course, unless Billy Ray, writer of the adapted screenplay for Captain Phillips, and Spike Jonze, writer of the original screenplay for Her, want to join forces. Captain Phillips is a tense yet cathartic film based on the real-life story of a cargo ship’s hijacking by Somali pirates in 2009, and Her, the tale of a recently divorced man falling in love with his operating system, seems like it’s getting closer to reality every day. During his acceptance speech, as quoted in the LA Times, Spike Jonze described the thrill of winning the award from his fellow writers as recognition that “in a way, this is like an award for pain. It's a specific pain that writers know. It's sort of the highs and lows of sitting in there by yourself, and the days where you're deluded and you think it's the best thing ever, and the days you're hopefully deluded and you think it's a fatal mistake you've made and it will never work."

Billy Ray confirmed how much it meant to have his work recognized by his peers, which you can see for yourself in our interview with him that follows this article. Captain Phillips is the most recent of his scripts that pare political and life-threatening situations down to their cores, a roster that includes his 2012 adaptation of the Hunger Games.

The WGA awards are often seen as an indicator of the Academy Awards race. This year, eight of the ten nominated screenplays for both awards are identical. Will Her and Captain Phillips win again on March 2? Don’t count their screenwriting competition out yet! Indiezone.TV’s Lauren Augarten spoke with several of the WGA nominees for Best Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay on the red carpet, and their pride in their work is evident. The screenplay for Before Midnight may prove as mature as Jesse and Celine’s grown-up love for its writers and stars Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater. Did shrinking funding spur enough greatness for Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack to win, the duo behind Dallas Buyers Club? Or maybe the magnetic team of Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell will prove as irresistible as their late 1970s exploration of the Abscam scandal and the intricate heists relationships can pull on us all.

Billy Ray’s so loved by his writing peers that giving him an award wasn’t enough…but a kiss mid-interview is!

After winning the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay, Billy Ray takes a few minutes to talk with us about the honor. Knowing that he has his peers’ respect was probably the best part about receiving the award for the past-faced thriller that has been praised for treating the kidnapped Captain Phillips and the men who hijacked him with an even hand, spurring memorable performances from Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi. One of those writing peers blindsides Ray with a kiss right in the middle of our interview! He recovers well enough from the shock to discuss how every screenplay has its challenges, but writing Captain Phillips was a great pleasure regardless.


When it’s been 7 years since you last saw your character, taking some time to meet her again is important.

Praised for its signature long takes, subtlety, and realistic dialogue, the Before trilogy is a masterful take on missed chances, and in its current installment, what happens when the chance is taken. It’s been more than half a decade since the last film, so re-exploring the world and sensibility in which the characters exist was the first step in writing the script for Before Midnight according to Julie Delpy, one of the film’s screenwriters and stars. Delpy graciously re-explores her own dress for us, wrangling over help to give us the designer’s name. Now that’s a celebrity willing to go the distance, both in writing and in fashion!


Eric Warren Singer’s fave moments in American Hustle aren’t even ones he wrote. How’s that for Hollywood ego?

Eric Warren Singer and the critics love the way David O. Russell channeled their shared script for American Hustle onto the screen as a messy explosion of characters driven by greed, ambition, and each other. Can you guess what moment was Singer’s favorite? In the midst of all the fun, he tells us what a privilege it was to be on set during the filming. Coming next for him is a film with Tom Hardy, but he definitely hopes to work with Russell again soon.


When is a film losing funding actually a win? When Dallas Buyers Club is the result.

During our interview, Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack talked about their on-set rewrites of the script, a process that resulted in paring the film down to its most authentic moments. Losing their funding over and over ultimately led them to the finished product they have today, so it was a blessing in disguise. The reviews agree, calling the film a restrained, unsentimental take on the early days of the AIDS crisis in the USA and the main character, Ron Woodroof, who chases his own salvation through trafficking in experimental drug cocktails.


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