Writers Guild (WGA) Awards 2022: ‘CODA’ ‘Don’t Look Up Win Top Honors

‘CODA’ ‘Don’t Look Up’ Win Best Adapted, Original Screenplays

On the TV side, ‘Hacks’ and ‘Succession’ each won two awards, with the final season of Conan O’Brien’s nightly TBS show winning for best comedy-variety talk series.


CODA added another trophy to its haul this season at the 2022 Writers Guild Awards on Sunday, as the Apple film about a hearing child in deaf family won the award for best adapted screenplay.

CODA also won in top categories at the Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild Awards and is being seen as a frontrunner for the Oscars’ top prize of best picture.

Siân Heder’s screenplay for the film she also directed won the first award of the night at the virtual ceremony.

In a video acceptance speech, Heder said, “I had a really incredible education writing this script.”

And she thanked “the people from the deaf community who were my collaborators,” including her CODA and deaf consultants and sign-language advisers.


Best actor nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (left) and best supporting actor Kodi Smit-McPhee.

The other top award, for original screenplay, was presented last, with that prize going to Don’t Look Up‘s Adam McKay and David Sirota for their climate change satire.

In his pre-taped acceptance speech, McKay said, “I’m here in my office in Los Angeles recording this. If this is actually being broadcast, this is real legitimate excitement.”

He thanked those who contributed to the Netflix film, including Sirota, who McKay said “gave me the idea for this script.”

The best picture competition is primarily between CODA and The Power of the Dog, which won top awards at the Directors Guild Awards and BAFTA Awards, among others.

The Power of the Dog, as well as Netflix’s fellow adapted screenplay Oscar nominee The Lost Daughter, which won the USC Scripter Award last month, were both ineligible for the Writers Guild Awards.

In the TV categories, HBO Max’s Hacks and HBO’s Succession each won two awards, with the final season of Conan O’Brien’s eponymous nightly TBS show winning for best comedy/variety talk series, the second year in a row that talk series awards darling Last Week Tonight With John Oliver has lost at the Writers Guild Awards.

After kicking off the show with an animated sequence promising a “gallery of stars” — ranging from Noam Chomsky to Ricki Lake and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — who were not in attendance,  Black opened her monologue by saying the WGA Awards would be ” just like being in a virtual writers room, up to and including the fact that you do have to pay for your own lunch.”She also joked that the WGA Awards is happening virtually again not only to protect people from COVID-19 but also to keep writers from “having to answer the question, ‘So what are you working on right now?’

“The only thing worse than answering that question is having to answer it when you’re trying to bite into a free slider,” Black added.

Comedian, writer, actress and producer Black was also nominated this year for her work on season two of Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, which she said “is about having hope even if you don’t win” before adding with mock anger, “But just because I wrote for it doesn’t mean I agree with it. Don’t you fuck me, Hacks!”

Calming down, she said she loves Hacks, “some of my best friends are hacks,” including one who wrote that joke.

Ultimately, however, Hacks would beat Ted Lasso in the best comedy series category.

Black also joked about dating nominee Aaron Sorkin.

“Every time we wanted to talk about our relationship, we had to find a long hallway and take a walk,” she quipped. “To be fair, I really should’ve learned my lesson in college: Never date men who only talk about Aaron Sorkin.”

But she also got serious, sharing that, “right now our care and attention are focused on our fellow humans fighting for their lives in Ukraine.”

“As writers, what we do might sound silly or frivolous, especially right now, and that’s just because it is,” Black continued. “But when a TV writer gives a minor character a juicy backstory, when a screenwriter humanizes a villain or when a journalist breaks a story that changes our perspective, writers give us the opportunity to be, in the words of my favorite soccer coach, curious not judgmental, and I have to believe that gives us the opportunity to make a small but crucial difference in the story of the world.”

In between awards, Black also provided amusing trivia about this year’s nominees and dug into a fake swag bag for this year’s show.

She also joked that even more awards were presented earlier in the week, in creative and technical categories, at the Van Nuys Airport Days Inn.

In a pre-taped segment, an announcer bestowed some dubious honors on projects and phenomena from the past year like “outstanding title written on Ambien and wine: Licorice Pizza,” “outstanding adaptation of CBS All Access: Paramount+” and “outstanding member: Tommy Lee’s penis in Pam & Tommy.”

A fake award was also given to Netflix for “outstanding suggestion based on viewing habits: If you enjoyed the Baby-Sitters Club, you might enjoy Squid Game. … Another show about a group of people who have no idea how bad life is about to get.”

During the virtual ceremony, writer-director Barry Jenkins received the Paul Selvin Award, given to the WGA member whose script best embodies the constitutional and civil rights and liberties key to the survival of free writers, in recognition of his work on The Underground Railroad limited series, which is also up for adapted long form.

Accepting the award from Colman Domingo, Jenkins called the honor “an affirmation to keep working the way we are.”

He also quoted Ralph Ellison: “Good fiction is made of what is real, and reality is difficult to come by.”

Jenkins said amid so much information, “we have to do the work to find what’s true about humanity and human experiences and put them into our stories to share our version of reality that can’t be denied.”

And legendary late-night host, comedian and writer Dick Cavett received the Evelyn F. Burkey Award, given to someone who has brought honor and dignity to writers.

In his acceptance speech, for the award presented by Seth Meyers, Cavett thanked writers and Burkey herself, whom he called a “real character,” who did great things for writers.

“Once a jerky producer tried to fire me from a show,” he recalled. “And I called [Burkey] and she said, ‘He wants to fire you? Ask him if he wants the show to go on the air tonight?’ [The show] did [air], and I was back the next day

While last year’s virtual show featured the host, Kal Penn, and presenters, appearing remotely, this year, it appeared like Black and a handful of other presenters were on what looked like a traditional WGA Awards stage, with some presenters appearing remotely. Winners, however, accepted via pre-taped speeches.

And Black, WGA West president Meredith Stiehm and WGA East executive director Lowell Peterson all said they hoped next year’s show would take place in person, with Black calling the WGA Awards’ habit of holding two shows simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles, “like divorced parents throwing competing Christmases.”

The show also aired footage of Bob Saget at a previous WGA Awards ceremony in a tribute to the late comedian.

A full list of the 2022 WGA Awards winners follows.


Don’t Look Up (WINNER)
Screenplay by Adam McKay, Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota; Netflix

Being the Ricardos
Written by Aaron Sorkin; Amazon Studios

The French Dispatch of the Liberty Kansas Evening Sun
Screenplay by Wes Anderson, Story by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola & Hugo Guinness & Jason Schwartzman; Searchlight Pictures

King Richard
Written by Zach Baylin; Warner Bros. Pictures

Licorice Pizza
Written by Paul Thomas Anderson; United Artists


Screenplay by Siân Heder, Based on the Original Motion Picture La Famille Belier Directed by Eric Lartigau, Written by Victoria Bedos, Stanislas Carree de Malberg, Eric Lartigau and Thomas Bidegain; Apple

Screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth, Based on the novel Dune Written by Frank Herbert; Warner Bros. Pictures

Nightmare Alley
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Kim Morgan, Based on the Novel by William Lindsay Gresham; Searchlight Pictures

Tick, Tick … Boom!
Screenplay by Steven Levenson, Based on the play by Jonathan Larson; Netflix

West Side Story
Screenplay by Tony Kushner, Based on the Stage Play, Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Play Conceived, Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins; 20th Century Studios


Exposing Muybridge (WINNER)
Written by Marc Shaffer; Inside Out Media

Being Cousteau
Written by Mark Monroe & Pax Wasserman; National Geographic

Like a Rolling Stone: The Life & Times of Ben Fong-Torres
Written by Suzanne Joe Kai; StudioLA.TV

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