Writer Guild Awards 2021: Nominations

WGA Awards: ‘Judas and the Black Messiah,’ ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’ Among Film Screenplay Nominees


'Judas and the Black Messiah'
Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

The Writers Guild of America has announced its nominees in the categories of original, adapted and documentary screenplay for the 2021 WGA Awards.

The original screenplay nominees are Judas and the Black Messiah, Palm Springs, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Directed by Shaka King, Black Messiah centers on Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton and tells of his betrayal by an FBI informant. The movie stars Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield and, as is true of Warner Bros.’ entire 2021 film slate, debuted on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time, last week. The movie is already a player this awards season with Kaluuya receiving Golden Globe and SAG Awards nominations.

Palm Springs has been a genre darling since it debuted in July on Hulu, which acquired the title after the movie premiered at Sundance. The comedy, featuring Andy Samberg as a man stuck in a time loop, is nominated for a Golden Globe for best motion picture, musical or comedy.

Emerald Fennell not only wrote Promising Young Woman but directed the black comedy and produced it along with Margot Robbie and her Luckychap Entertainment. The movie stars Carey Mulligan as a woman who seeks retribution for the wrecked life of her best friend, a victim of a rape. It premiered at Sundance in January 2020 and was released by Focus in December.

Sound of Metal has already been garnering attention this awards season for the starring turn by Riz Ahmed as a drummer who loses his hearing. The drama originally premiered in the Toronto Film Festival back in 2019 and was picked up by Amazon, which debuted it in December.

Aaron Sorkin both wrote and directed Chicago 7, which took 13 years to make it to the screen. (Sorkin originally wrote it in 2007 with the plan for Spielberg to direct.) A Vietnam War-era legal drama, the movie found itself in sync with modern times as it tackled protests, riots, police brutality and political machinations. The movie, which Netflix picked up from Paramount last year, already has several Golden Globe and SAG Awards nominations.

Adapted nominees are Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, News of the World, One Night in Miami and The White Tiger.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was released by Amazon in October and sees Sacha Baron Cohen reprise his buffoon Kazakhstani journalist character from his 2006 movie, which was a pop culture and box-office sensation at the time. Cohen and some of his team nabbed a WGA nomination for the previous movie and now find themselves in the running again.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is another drama lighting up awards nominations on the strength of its standout performances, in this case by Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman, who makes his final film appearance in the film. The Netflix project adapts the celebrated play by August Wilson and tells of real-life blues recording artist Rainey and a recording session that explores issues of race and art.

Like Ma Rainey, One Night in Miami also adapts a stage play, this one by Kemp Powers. The story is a fictionalized account of a meeting with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, and Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) and serves as the directorial debut of actress Regina King. The movie has been a strong performer on the awards circuit, premiering at the Venice Film Festival before having a strong showing at the Toronto Film Festival, where it was the runner up for the People’s Choice Award, and earning nominations for Critics Choice, Golden Globe and SAG Awards.

Doc nominees are All In: The Fight for Democracy, The Dissident, Herb Alpert Is, Red Penguins and Totally Under Control.

None of the WGA’s documentary nominees, except for All In, landed on the Oscars’ best documentary feature shortlist.

Amazon scored four nods, with Netflix landing three nominations. Universal Pictures is the only other distributor with multiple nominations, landing nods for News of the World and Red Penguins.

A number of high-profile films that are expected to contend for Oscar nominations — such as Nomadland, Mank, The Father and Minari — were not eligible for WGA award nominations due to guild regulations.

The Guild unveiled its nominees in the television, new media, news, radio/audio and promotional writing categories.

The 73rd Writers Guild Awards are set for March 21.

A complete list of the nominees in the film screenplay categories follows.


Judas and the Black Messiah, Screenplay by Will Berson & Shaka King, Story by Will Berson & Shaka King and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas; Warner Bros.

Palm Springs, Screenplay by Andy Siara, Story by Andy Siara & Max Barbakow; Hulu

Promising Young Woman, Written by Emerald Fennell; Focus Features

Sound of Metal, Screenplay by Darius Marder & Abraham Marder, Story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance; Amazon Studios

The Trial of the Chicago 7, Written by Aaron Sorkin; Netflix


Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Peter Baynham & Erica Rivinoja & Dan Mazer & Jena Friedman & Lee Kern, Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Dan Swimer & Nina Pedrad, Based on Characters Created by Sacha Baron Cohen; Amazon Studios

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Screenplay by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Based on the Play Written by August Wilson; Netflix

News of the World, Screenplay by Paul Greengrass and Luke Davies, Based upon the Novel by Paulette Jiles; Universal Pictures

One Night in Miami, Screenplay by Kemp Powers, Based on the Stage Play One Night in Miami by Kemp Powers; Amazon Studios

The White Tiger, Screenplay by Ramin Bahrani, Based on the Book The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga; Netflix


All In: The Fight for Democracy, Written by Jack Youngelson; Amazon Studios

The Dissident, Written by Mark Monroe and Bryan Fogel; Briarcliff Entertainment

Herb Alpert Is…, Written by John Scheinfeld; Abramorama

Red Penguins, Written by Gabe Polsky; Universal Pictures

Totally Under Control, Written by Alex Gibney; Neon