Spike Jonze‘s “Her” won a significant victory at the Writers Guild of America Awards on Saturday night, taking home the award for the best original screenplay of 2013 in a head-to-head battle against the same four films it will compete with for the Oscar.
By winning over “Blue Jasmine,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Nebraska” and particularly “American Hustle,” Jonze’s script showed that it has the potential to be a spoiler on Oscar night. And it deprived “American Hustle” of what would have been a big win as it heads into the Oscar voting period locked in a tight race with “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave.”
With the former film not nominated by the WGA and the latter film ineligible under guild rules, the “Her” win meant that none of the Oscar leaders could gain any advantage from the last of the four major guild ceremonies.
In the adapted screenplay category, Billy Ray‘s win for “Captain Phillips” was a nice boost for a film that didn’t do as well in Oscar nominations as expected. But with frontrunner “12 Years a Slave” not in the running, its victory was less important as an Oscar predictor.
As usual, the two affiliated guilds, the WGA, West and the WGA, East handed out awards at separate ceremonies in different orders — and as a result, most of the major awards were announced in New York long before the categories came up in Los Angeles.
The failure of the two guilds to work out a way to coordinate their shows has long been a source of frustration in Los Angeles, where nominees frequently learn that they’ve won or lost by hearing the news from New York. On Saturday, the East Coast show had ended well before the West Coast one even got to the top film categories, with the award to Spike Jonze announced in New York nearly 90 minutes before he took the stage to accept it in L.A.
Sarah Polley won the documentary award for “Stories We Tell” over a field that only contained one Oscar doc nominee, “Dirty Wars.”
In television awards, “Breaking Bad” and “Veep” were named the best drama and comedy series of 2013, respectively. “House of Cards” was named the year’s best new series. “The Colbert Report” won for comedy, variety or talk series.
The “Breaking Bad” episode “Confessions” and the “30 Rock” episode “Hogcock!” were named the year’s best episodes of a drama and comedy series.
Other awards include “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” winning for long-form television adaptation, “The Simpsons” episode “A Test Before Trying” winning for TV animation and “Days of Our Lives” winning for daytime drama.
A number of honorary awards were handed out by both the WGA, West and the WGA, East. In Los Angeles, Paul Mazursky was given the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement, Garry Marshall the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement, Alex Gibney the Paul Selvin Award, Thomas S. Cook the Morgan Cox Award and Sam Simon the Valentine Davies Award.
In New York, David Simon was presented with a career achievement award, which he accepted by saying, “I’m 53, so you motherf—ers think I’m going to die, or you’ve seen ‘Treme’s’ numbers and you think that’s it. That’s a career.”
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Her, Written by Spike Jonze; Warner Bros.
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Captain Phillips, Screenplay by Billy Ray; Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty; Columbia Pictures
DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY: Stories We Tell, Written by Sarah Polley; Roadside Attractions
COMEDY SERIES: Veep, Written by Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew, Sean Gray, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Georgia Pritchett, David Quantick, Tony Roche, Will Smith; HBO
NEW SERIES: House of Cards, Written by Kate Barnow, Rick Cleveland, Sam Forman, Gina Gionfriddo, Keith Huff, Sarah Treem, Beau Willimon; Netflix
EPISODIC DRAMA: “Confessions” (Breaking Bad), Written by Gennifer Hutchison; AMC
EPISODIC COMEDY: “Hogcock!” (30 Rock), Written by Jack Burditt & Robert Carlock; NBC
LONG FORM – ADAPTED: Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight, Written by Shawn Slovo, Based on the book by Howard Bingham and Max Wallace; HBO
SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA – ORIGINAL: “Episode 4: The Collected Sylvia” (Sylvia Plath: Girl Detective), Written by Mike Simses
ANIMATION: “A Test Before Trying” (The Simpsons), Written by Joel H. Cohen; Fox
COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES: The Colbert Report, Writers: Stephen Colbert, Tom Purcell, Michael Brumm, Nate Charny, Rich Dahm, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Rob Dubbin, Glenn Eichler, Gabe Gronli, Dan Guterman, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Frank Lesser, Opus Moreschi, Bobby Mort, Meredith Scardino, Max Werner; Comedy Central
COMEDY / VARIETY – MUSIC, AWARDS, TRIBUTES – SPECIALS: Blake Shelton’s Not So Family Christmas, Head Writers: Jay Martel, Ian Roberts; Writers: Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders; NBC
QUIZ AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION: Jeopardy!, Written by John Duarte, Harry Friedman, Mark Gaberman, Debbie Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Jim Rhine, Steve D. Tamerius, Billy Wisse; ABC
DAYTIME DRAMA: Days of Our Lives, Written by Lorraine Broderick, David Cherrill, Carolyn Culliton, Richard Culliton, Rick Draughon, Christopher Dunn, Janet Iacobuzio, David A. Levinson, Ryan Quan, Dave Ryan, Melissa Salmons, Christopher J. Whitesell; NBC
CHILDREN’S – EPISODIC & SPECIALS: “influANTces” (A.N.T. Farm), Written by Vincent Brown; Disney Channel
DOCUMENTARY – CURRENT EVENTS: “Egypt in Crisis” (Frontline), Written by Marcela Gaviria & Martin Smith; PBS
DOCUMENTARY – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS: (tie) “The Abolitionists” (American Experience), Written by Rob Rapley; PBS and “Silicon Valley” (American Experience), Telescript by Randall MacLowry and Michelle Ferrari; Story by Randall MacLowry; PBS
NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT: “Tragedy at Newtown” Special Edition (ABC World News with Diane Sawyer), Written by Lisa Ferri and Matt Negrin; ABC
NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY: “Lethal Medicine” (60 Minutes), Written by Michael Rey, Oriana Zill de Granados, Michael Radutzky; CBS
DOCUMENTARY: “2012 Year in Review,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS Radio News
NEWS – REGULARLY SCHEDULED OR BREAKING REPORT: “Afternoon Drive,” Written by Bill Spadaro; CBS Radio/1010 WINS
NEWS – ANALYSIS, FEATURE OR COMMENTARY: “Remembrances,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS Radio News
PROMOTIONAL WRITING AND GRAPHIC ANIMATION
ON-AIR PROMOTION (TELEVISION, NEW MEDIA OR RADIO: “The Crazy Ones – Building a Better Comedy,” Written by Erial Tompkins; CBS
TELEVISION GRAPHIC ART AND ANIMATION: CBS News Animations: “Brain Injury,” “Pills,” “Bionic Leg,” “Midland Parade,” “Concordia Salvage;” Animation by David Rosen; CBS News
(*Editor Note: There were no nominees in Long Form – Original, Short Form New Media – Adapted, or Children’s – Long Form or Special awards categories this year.)
VIDEOGAME: The Last of Us, Written by Neil Druckmann; Sony Computer Entertainment
Brent Lang contributed to this report.