Oscars 2016 | Straight Outta Compton Builds Buzz With WGA Nomination

Critics awards are a great way to raise the visibility of the year’s best films, but if you’re looking for insight into the way the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) thinks heading into Oscar season, you have to look at the guild awards. These prestigious honors are bestowed by filmmakers’ peers, many of whom are also members of the Academy, and although there’s usually some discrepancies they’re typically an accurate indicator of which films the Oscar voters care about.

So if a film receives nominations from multiple guilds, there’s a good chance we’re looking at a serious Oscar contender. Today’s announcement of the Writer’s Guild of America nominations solidified the Academy Awards credibility of several motion pictures that are already expected to be major players this year, including SpotlightThe Big ShortCarol and The Martian, but the bigger story is that the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton – a surprise summer blockbuster, and one of the most popular movies of 2015 – has wracked up another guild nomination as well. F. Gary Gray’s drama was largely ignored by the many critics awards, but filmmakers themselves are rallying around it.

With nominations from the Producers Guid, Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild, Straight Outta Compton could be quietly setting itself up as a force to be reckoned with at the Academy Awards. Unlike most previous years, in which one or two films soak up all the buzz and feel like sure things, this year’s Best Picture race is all over the place. With the Oscars still embracing a ranked ballot system, the film that the most Academy voters “like,” whether or not they’re fully passionate about it, will probably take home the big trophy. And everyone at least “likes” Straight Outta Compton, so there’s a decent chance we haven’t seen the last of it this season, whether or not it becomes a frontrunner.

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Related: Did the Producer’s Guild Just Predict the Coolest Oscars Ever?

But the big surprise in this year’s WGA nominations is Amy Schumer’s screenplay for Trainwreck, a romantic comedy that entertained audiences but wasn’t considered a serious awards contender this year. Schumer, who also co-starred in the film based partially on her own life, recently took home the Emmy Award for Best Variety Sketch Series for the Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer. So accolades for the popular comedian are increasingly common, and she could make the cut at the Academy, but Best Original Screenplay is a very competitive category this year. Prominent films that weren’t nominated by the WGA include Ex MachinaThe Hateful Eight and Inside Out, and they could all fill out this category come Oscar time. 

Check out the list of this year’s WGA motion picture nominees, and come back to find out who took home the awards when the winners are announced on February 13, 2016.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Bridge of Spies, Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen; DreamWorks Pictures
Sicario, Written by Taylor Sheridan; Lionsgate
Spotlight, Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy; Open Road Films
Straight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff; Universal Pictures
Trainwreck, Written by Amy Schumer; Universal Pictures

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Big Short, Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay; Based on the Book by Michael Lewis; Paramount Pictures
Carol, Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy; Based on the Novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith; The Weinstein Company
The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard; Based on the Novel by Andy Weir; Twentieth Century Fox
Steve Jobs, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin; Based on the Book by Walter Isaacson; Universal Pictures
Trumbo, Written by John McNamara; Based on the Biography by Bruce Cook; Bleecker Street Media

DOCUMENTARY SCREENPLAY

Being Canadian, Written by Robert Cohen; Candy Factory Films
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Written by Alex Gibney; HBO Documentary Films
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Written by Brett Morgen; HBO Documentary Films
Prophet’s Prey, Written by Amy J. Berg; Showtime Documentary Films

Top Photo: Universal Pictures

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.