Once again the Writers Guild of America’s eligibility strictures, which stipulate that a qualifying production must conform to the guild’s Minimum Basic Agreement, have rendered a number of this year’s screenplay Oscar hopefuls non-factors in the organization’s annual awards race.
Original screenplays not included on a ballot of 59 titles, obtained by Variety, include Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Anthony McCarten’s “Darkest Hour,” and William Nicholson’s “Breathe.” Also not in the mix is Pixar’s “Coco” (animated features rarely conform to WGA signatory rules), as well as two of last year’s Oscar nominees, “The Lobster” scribes Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, for “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.”
Unlike other guilds, the WGA excludes screenplays not produced under its jurisdiction or that of another guild as awards candidates, because it has the ultimate authority over determining which writers receive screenplay credit — if the script was produced under WGA jurisdiction.
On the adapted side, where 47 eligible contenders will compete, Lee Hall’s “Victoria & Abdul” and Matt Greenhalgh’s “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” are absent from the ballot.
Dismissal from the WGA proceedings is never an albatross in the Oscar race. Recent nominees and winners of the Academy’s prize that were excluded from the guild competition include “Birdman,” “Brooklyn,” “Lion,” “Room,” and “The Theory of Everything.”
This year, McDonagh’s “Three Billboards” is still a strong contender for Academy recognition, as is McCarten’s “Darkest Hour.” Other top screenplay players include “The Big Sick,” “Call Me by Your Name,” “Get Out,” “The Disaster Artist,” “Lady Bird,” and “Mudbound.” All are present on the WGA ballot.