The SAG nominations aren’t the only things throwing a wrench into this year’s Oscar race. In another shocking move, the Academy declared “Loving” and “Moonlight” ineligible for Best Original Screenplay honors. The films will instead be in contention for Best Adapted Screenplay nods.
Both films have competed for Original Screenplay honors all season so far. This is largely due to the fact that the Writers Guild of America determined them to be originals.
“Moonlight” is based on the stage piece “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who has a Story By credit on the film’s script that was ultimately written by director Barry Jenkins. The piece was never produced, which is presumably why the WGA classified it as original.
“Loving” is an even more interesting case. Deadline’s Pete Hammond put it this way:
In the case of ‘Loving,’ the story of the interracial marriage that defied Virginia law and went all the way to a landmark 1967 decision by the Supreme Court, it is an original screenplay by Jeff Nichols but was originally developed as a 2011 HBO documentary, ‘The Loving Story,’ by writer-director Nancy Buirski. She has a producer credit on the new film that stars Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, both nominated for Golden Globes this week.
The decision has obvious implications for the Oscar race. “La La Land” and “Manchester by the Sea” will likely be the frontrunners in Original Screenplay, and can sleep a little easier now having less competition. Adapted Screenplay, on the other hand, becomes a much more interesting race, with “Moonlight” taking over likely frontrunner status there. Should “Loving” also be nominated, at least two of the presumed nominees (which include films like “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Lion,” “Fences,” “Silence,” “Nocturnal Animals,” “Sully” and “Arrival”) will now be left out in the cold. On the flip side, space opens up for Original Screenplay contenders such as “Hell or High Water,” “The Lobster” and “20th Century Women” (to name only a few) to hop in in that category.
One thing is for sure: this Oscar race is going to be more interesting than it first seemed back in September.
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