Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Eighth Grade are surprise winners at WGA Awards

The two projects had been largely overlooked this awards season.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Eighth Grade were the surprise winners at the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards on Sunday night (17Feb19).

Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty picked up the Best Adapted Screenplay prize for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, a comedy-drama inspired by the memoir by late biographer-turned-forger Lee Israel, starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant. The Oscar-nominated duo beat the writers of Black Panther, A Star is Born and Oscar frontrunners If Beale Could Talk and BlacKkKlansman.

The big shock of the night was Bo Burnham picking up Best Original Screenplay for Eighth Grade over A Quiet Place and Oscar nominees Roma, Vice and Green Book. The surprise win made Eighth Grade the first film to win the WGA Original Screenplay award without being nominated for an Academy Award since Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine in 2003.

Taking to the stage, Burnham, who also directed the film, joked about being the underdog and praised his young actress, Golden Globe nominee Elsie Fisher.

"To the other nominees in the category - Have fun at the Oscars, losers!" he joked. "No, I prepared nothing. This all belongs to Elsie Fisher who performed the script. No one would care about the script if she hadn't done it."

Burham previously won the First-Time Feature Film category at the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Awards and the film is up for four Independent Spirit Awards prizes, but has been largely overlooked at the big award ceremonies.

In the TV categories, The Americans landed the Best Drama Series prize and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel picked up the Comedy Series gong, while The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story was named Best Adapted Longform Series, and the Stephen King-inspired thriller Castle Rock scored the Original Longform Series award.

The awards were handed out in bi-coastal ceremonies. The WGA East held its ceremony at the Edison Ballroom in New York, while the WGA West staged its bash at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

The main list of winners is as follows:

Original Screenplay:

Bo Burnham - Eighth Grade

Adapted Screenplay:

Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Documentary Screenplay:

Ozzy Inguanzo and Dava Whisenant - Bathtubs Over Broadway

TV Drama Series:

The Americans

TV Comedy Series:

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Best New Series:


Longform - Original:

Castle Rock

Longform - Adapted:

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

Shortform New Media - Original:

Class of Lies

Shortform New Media - Adapted:

The Walking Dead: Red Machete


The Simpsons: Bart's Not Dead

Episodic Drama:

Homeland: Paean to the People

Episodic Comedy:


Comedy/Variety Talk Series:

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

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