Oscar 2016: The Big Short and Spotlight Win the Writers Guild of America Awards

The Big Short and Spotlight won the Writers Guild of America’s top screenplay awards Saturday, February 13.

The fourth season of  Veep and the final season of Mad Men took the top TV series awards.

“The Big Short,” a darkly comic look at the 2008 financial meltdown, won for best adapted screenplay for Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, while “Spotlight” took the original screenplay award for Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy.

The guild’s 68th annual awards, based on voting by the 12,000 members of the  WGA, were announced Saturday in concurrent ceremonies in Los Angeles at the Century Plaza and the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

“Better Call Saul” won the award for top TV drama episode for the “Uno” segment written by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. “Silicon Valley” took the TV comedy episode for the “Sand Hill Shuffle” episode, written by Clay Tarver.

The award for “Spotlight,” which details the Boston Globe’s investigation into pedophile priests, was first announced in New York as the WGA continued its tradition of not being able to coordinate the announcement of its two top screenplay awards.

“Spotlight,” which is also nominated for an Oscar, won over the scripts for “Bridge of Spies,” “Sicario,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Trainwreck.”

McCarthy thanked Open Road “for letting us make the movie we wanted to make” and saluted the Globe reporters and survivors of sexual abuse who are the heart of the story.

In Los Angeles, 30 minutes later, “Spotlight” was announced as the winner. “It’s humbling to be here in front of such great storytellers,” said Singer.

He also thanked Boston Globe columnist Ellen McNamara for being among the first journalists to write about the abuse scandal and abuse survivor Phil Saviano, who was attending the event.

“The Big Short,” which is nominated for an Oscar, won over scripts for “Carol,” “The Martian,” “Steve Jobs” and “Trumbo.”

“This was a really horrible tragedy,” McKay said of the 2008 financial crisis in his acceptance. “Millions of people lost their homes and millions of people lost their jobs.”

McKay praised the WGA as a union, noting people’s power has been diminished over the last four decades because of the decline in union membership.

The WGA screenplay nominations did not include four Oscar nominees: the adaptations of “Brooklyn” and “Room” and the original scripts for “Ex Machina” and “Inside Out.”  They were excluded because the sccripts were not produced under WGA jurisdiction.

“The Imitation Game” won the WGA Award and the Oscar last year for adapted screenplay. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” won the WGA trophy for original screenplay while “Birdman” — which was ineligible for a WGA award — won the Oscar.

The WGA winners have a reliable track record of predicting the Oscar winners — which have matched in 15 of the last 21 years in adapted and 13 of the last 21 in original.

The writers branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has 416 members or about 6% of the total membership.

In Los Angeles, host Patton Oswalt kicked off the ceremonies by saying he would not make jokes about the death of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but the said, “Scalia was born in 1936 and has been there ever since.”