‘Don’t Look Up’ and ‘Coda’ added momentum to their hopes for Oscar gold by nabbing the top film honours at the 74th annual Writers Guild Awards.
Sunday’s wins for the Apple TV Plus and Netflix titles come as film award season heads into its final seven-day countdown leading into the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, reports ‘Variety’.
The Writers Guild of America West and East joined forces this year to present Sunday’s kudos in a virtual format, hosted by actor-writer Ashley Nicole Black, out of Covid-related precaution.
The leaders of both guilds, WGA West president Meredith Stiehm and WGA East president Michael Winship made a brief side-by-side video appearance to assure members that the Writers Guild Awards will be back in person next year.
“Enjoy your sweat pants and slippers now. Next year you’ll be back in heels and ties and Spanx again,” said Stiehm.
On the TV side, the HBO/HBO Max platform stood tall. ‘Succession’ scooped up more hardware, taking the trophies for drama series and episodic drama, the latter snared by the memorable shareholders meeting romp ‘Retired Janitors of Idaho’.
‘Hacks’ continued its freshman-year streak with wins for comedy series and new series.
Episodic comedy honours went to Hulu’s offbeat period vehicle ‘The Great’, for creator/showrunner Tony McNamara’s ‘Alone At Last’ episode.
‘Coda’ screenwriter Sian Heder made a point to thank “people from the deaf community” who gave her “a really incredible education” to understand the culture depicted in the film.
She also thanked her ASL consultants, Anne Tomasetti and Alexandria Wailes.
McKay singled out journalist David Sirota, who helped spark the idea of the climate change-themed comedy/thriller with an all-star cast.
“If this is airing, this is real, legitimate excitement,” McKay quipped in his acceptance remarks, also winking at the pre-taped format forced by the event’s virtual presentation.
‘Succession’ made history on Sunday, finishing its 2022 sweep of the major guild awards with two big WGA wins. The show has already collected the SAG Award for drama ensemble, the DGA Award for drama series (for director Mark Mylod) and the PGA honor as well.
That gives the white-hot HBO ensemble quite a bit of momentum heading to Emmy season, where it faces off with a tough crop of competitors, including ‘Squid Game’.
“After a couple of tough years working through Covid, it’s particularly welcome,” ‘Succession’ showrunner Jesse Armstrong said in his pre-taped remarks.
Armstrong tantalised fans of the twisty drama about a media mogul and his adult children by standing in front of a bulletin board with index cards arranged as if to suggest a story outline.
“Anodyne intro” read the first card.
“3rd Act low point” read another, followed by “Joke?” with a diagonal slash across the word.
‘Succession’ episodic drama winners, Tony Roche and Susan Soon He Stanton of ‘Retired Janitors of Idaho’, noted that the pre-taped acceptance videos sometimes come off more like hostage videos.
“We have made it of our own volition, I promise,” Roche said.
‘Succession’ win streak puts it in the company of only two other series ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ that have pulled off a similar feat of guild sweeps, reports Variety.
Conan O’Brien got a hat-tip from the scribe tribe by landing the comedy/variety talk series honor for the final year of his TBS late-night mainstay ‘Conan’.
Another surprise win came in the comedy/variety sketch series category when Netflix’s ‘I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson’ topped far more high profile shows such as ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘How to With John Wilson’.
WGA Awards host Black accepted on behalf of Robinson, “who couldn’t be bothered to make a video”, she quipped.
‘Mare of Easttown’, penned by executive producer Brad Ingelsby, notched another major win, for original longform.
In adapted longform, ‘Maid’, now in the hunt for Emmy consideration, received a major boost through the WGA recognition.
‘Hacks’, written by Lucia Aniello, Joanna Calo, Jessica Chaffin, Paul W. Downs, Cole Escola, Janis E. Hirsch, Ariel Karlin, Katherine Kearns, Andrew Law, Joe Mande, Pat Regan, Samantha Riley, Michael Schur and Jen Statsky, beat out last year’s winner, ‘Ted Lasso’, in the comedy series category.
It adds to a recent tally that also includes DGA, ACE Eddie, Golden Globe (musical or comedy) and SAG (female actor Jean Smart) wins, in addition to last fall’s comedy writing Emmy win for Aniello, Downs and Statsky.
In the animated series, the ‘Tuca & Bertie’ episode ‘Planteau’, written by creator Lisa Hanawalt, beat out episodes from ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Bob’s Burgers’.
The win for ‘Tuca & Bertie’ was further validation for the animated series, which was resurrected for Season 2 by Adult Swim after Netflix cancelled the show.
In addition to the WGA categories, Seth Meyers presented late-night host and comedian Dick Cavett with WGAE’s 2022 Evelyn F. Burkey Award, bestowed upon “someone who has brought honour and dignity to writers”.
And Colman Domingo presented filmmaker Barry Jenkins with WGAW’s 2022 Paul Selvin Award, given to “to the member or members whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties that are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere”, for Jenkins’ script for ‘The Underground Railroad’ episode ‘Chapter 9: Indiana Winter’.
Awards presenters included Ariana DeBose, Pamela Adlon, Diedrich Bader, Vanessa Bayer, Nicholas Braun, Chris Hayes, Alanna Ubach, Kel Mitchell and Paul Reiser.
Hugh Fink served as executive producer for the 2022 Writers Guild Awards.
The ceremony was co-produced by Joselyn Allen and Kelly Brock. Head writers were Ann Cohen and Joe O’Brien with additional writers including Timothy Cooper, Bonnie Datt, Hugh Fink, Don Hooper, Danielle Koenig, Ed Lee and Bill Scheft. Kristen Bartlett and Mike Drucker were the host writers.