‘Promising Young Woman’ + ‘Borat’ Emerge as Winners at 73rd WGA Awards

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Photo Source: "Promising Young Woman": Courtesy Focus Features

In a pre-taped, abbreviated ceremony representative of this atypical film and guilds awards season, the 2021 Writers Guild Awards were presented virtually March 21. The 73rd annual ceremony from the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) highlighted the guild’s selections for the strongest film and television screenplays of the past year, locking another awards puzzle piece into place ahead of the Oscars.

Following up on her stellar showing of six nominations on the Academy Awards’ recently announced list, Emerald Fennell took home the WGA’s original film screenplay prize for Focus Features’ “Promising Young Woman.” The feminist revenge thriller starring Carey Mulligan has also been nominated at the Directors Guild Awards for Fennell’s direction and at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (where Fennell is also, incidentally, recognized for acting as part of the drama ensemble on “The Crown”).

WGA’s adapted screenplay winner, Amazon Studios’ “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” gives producer-star Sacha Baron Cohen a significant awards season boost following his triumph in the Golden Globes’ comedy categories; joining him for the WGA win are screenwriters Anthony Hines, Dan Swimer, Peter Baynham, Erica Rivinoja, Dan Mazer, Jena Friedman, Lee Kern, and Nina Pedrad. “Borat” is nominated in the adapted category at the 93rd Oscars, notably making it only the second sequel to follow up its original film’s screenplay nod after “The Godfather Part II.”

In the guild’s TV races, Netflix’s “The Crown” Season 4 continued a victory lap that will surely extend into the 2021 Emmy Awards race, with Peter Morgan and Jonathan Wilson winning the WGA Award for best drama series. Meanwhile, taking both the comedy series and new series awards was AppleTV+’s freshman season of “Ted Lasso,” including stars Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt, Jane Becker, Leann Bowen, Brett Goldstein, Joe Kelly, Bill Lawrence, Jamie Lee, Phoebe Walsh, and Bill Wrubel. FX’s “Mrs. America” and Netflix’s “The Queen’s Gambit” were among the WGA’s other small screen winners, earning the prizes for original and adapted long form, respectively.

Many of last year’s film and TV screenplay winners went on to triumph at the Oscars and Emmys, indicating those awards bodies’ overlap with the WGA. For more information and a full list of nominees and winners, visit wga.org.

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Jack Smart
Jack Smart is the awards editor at Backstage, where he covers all things Emmy, SAG, Oscar, and Tony Awards. He also produces and hosts Backstage’s awards podcast “In the Envelope” and has interviewed some of the biggest stars of stage and screen.
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