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Writers Guild Awards keep up momentum for ‘CODA’ and ‘Don’t Look Up’


Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in “Don’t Look Up,” which won for original screenplay at the WGA Awards.

By Kyle Buchanan


A sudden Oscar front-runner and a dark-horse contender took top honors at the Writers Guild Awards on Sunday night, as the heartwarmer “CODA” and the satirical “Don’t Look Up” prevailed in the adapted and original screenplay categories, respectively.


“This is real, legitimate excitement,” the writer-director of “Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay, said in a pretaped speech. Although several awards shows have returned to in-person gatherings, the WGA ceremony was virtual, and nominees were asked to send in their acceptance speeches ahead of time. Only the winner’s was played during the ceremony.


Several major films were ineligible for the WGAs this year because they were not written under a bargaining agreement with the WGA or its sister guilds. So “Belfast” and “The Worst Person in the World” (in the original-screenplay category) and “The Power of the Dog” and “The Lost Daughter” (in the adapted category) were not in the running. And because that significantly whittled down the pool of big contenders, most pundits expected writer-director Sian Heder’s “CODA,” based on the 2014 French film “La Famille Bélier,” would prevail with the Writers Guild, although “Don’t Look Up” still faced stiff competition from Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza.”


Can the WGA victors also win their Oscar races now that “Belfast” has lost its awards mojo and the surging “CODA” beat “The Power of the Dog” at this weekend’s influential Producers Guild Awards? In a recent screenplay contest at the BAFTAs, “CODA” pulled out another surprise win over “The Power of the Dog,” its biggest best-picture rival. Since the path to the top Oscar almost always winds through the screenplay categories, an adapted-screenplay win for “CODA” on Oscar night could foreshadow the film’s ultimate fate.


And although “Don’t Look Up” has a tougher path to the best-picture Oscar, with no notable awards-season wins until now, the WGA victory at least suggests that the original-screenplay race will remain one to watch.


Here are some of the other WGA winners:


Documentary: “Exposing Muybridge”

Drama series: “Succession”

Comedy series: “Hacks”

New series: “Hacks”

Original long-form series: “Mare of Easttown”

Adapted long-form series: “Maid”

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