moonlight Movie
Courtesy of A24

In a major surprise, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script for “Deadpool” has nabbed 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 received 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 for “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 dark comedy 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’s “Love and Friendship” and the Andrew Knight-Robert Schenkkan script for “Hacksaw Ridge” were considered possibilities.

WGA voters have supported superhero scripts in the past. James Gunn and Nicole Perlman received a nomination in 2015 for “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

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 by WGA voters.

“Moonlight,” scripted by Jenkins from a comig-of-age story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, won the best screenplay trophy at the Gotham Awards in November. The drama is contending for best screenplay at Sunday’s Golden Globes alongside “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 to Cocks and Scorsese for “Silence” and its original trophy to Lonergan for family drama “Manchester by the Sea.”

The WGA’s nominated screenplays were selected by its 12,000 eligible members from 55 contenders in the adapted category and 60 in the original category. 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.

Variety reported exclusively on Dec. 5 that “The Jungle Book” and “Lion” were not eligible for the adapted prize, and “Florence Foster Jenkins” and “Zootopia” were excluded in the original category.

Additionally, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has classified both “Loving” and “Moonlight” as adapted rather than the WGA’s classification of those screenplays as original. The Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 24.

Denzel Washington, who directed, produced and starred in “Fences,” issued a statement in response to Wilson’s WGA nomimation: “It is a huge honor to shoulder the responsibility of August Wilson’s words being brought to the big screen, and I’m grateful and thankful the WGA recognized his extraordinary talents today with their screenplay nomination.”

“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.”

“Command and Control” and Gibney’ “Zero Days” have been short-listed for the Academy Awards documentary nominations. Gibney’s “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” won the WGA documentary award last year.

Here are the nominees for the 2017 Writers Guild Awards:

 

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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