Bo Burnham shocked Hollywood with another surprising win for Eighth Grade. Burnham won the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Award for Best Original Screenplay, with just a week until the Oscars. The winner of this award is often a contender for Best Picture at the Oscars, so Burnham’s win was especially meaningful.
Eighth Grade wins despite 0 Oscar nominations
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not nominate Eighth Grade for any Oscars. The popular indie film—holding a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes—took one of the most prestigious WGA awards against Oscar heavyweights Roma, Green Book, A Quiet Place, and Vice.
While Eighth Grade recently won the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award for Outstanding First-Time Feature, Eighth Grade does not have any nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards. Fellow Oscar bait films Roma, Green Book, and Vice all have multiple nominations. However, Eighth Grade is the only film to be recognized by both the DGA and WGA this year.
Eighth Grade is a coming-of-age film about a struggling middle school girl who creates rarely-viewed YouTube videos with life advice. In a piece for the Los Angeles Times in December, the filmmaker explained that he wrote his movie “as a tribute to the young people I was seeing online that no one was paying attention to…Real kids posting videos that no one was watching—unseen, unprocessed, unadulterated by a built-in audience, desperate to express and define themselves in real time for an audience that may not be there.” Burnham is intimately familiar with the world of online videos since his comedy career began on YouTube.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? was the other surprise winner at the ceremony, taking the prize for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film starring Melissa McCarthy won against A Star Is Born, BlacKkKlansman, Black Panther, and If Beale Street Could Talk. A Star Is Born, Black KkKlansman, and Black Panther are all nominated for Best Picture Oscars—unlike Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Barry, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel win WGA Awards
Some of the other comedy wins are less surprising. Critical darling The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won for Best Comedy Series against Atlanta, Barry, GLOW, and The Good Place. HBO’s critically-acclaimed Barry won for Best New Series. Barry also won Best Episodic Comedy for Chapter One: Make Your Mark—for which Bill Hader also won a DGA Award.
Finally, the WGA awarded The Fake News with Ted Nelms with Best Comedy/Variety Special over Drew Michael’s eponymous HBO special, the 2018 Oscars broadcast, and the 2018 Rose Parade Hosted by Cord & Tish.