Moonlight stops La La Land's race towards Oscars victory in its tracks
Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight came out on top at the Writers Guild Awards (Picture: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for WGAw)

La La Land’s sweeping awards victory has been stopped in its tracks by Moonlight, which won the top honour at the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards.

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The film, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, won the Best Original Screenplay at the ceremony in Los Angeles, which proved to be a highly political event.

The movie, which tells the story of Chiron, a young gay black man coming of age in Miami, has received much critical acclaim for the subjects it explores.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover UsagenMandatory Credit: Photo by David Bornfriend/REX/Shutterstock (7734188a)nAlex R. Hibbert, Mahershala Alin'Moonlight' Film - 2016nn
Mahershala Ali and Alex R Hibbert star in Moonlight (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

The film pipped Damien Chazelle’s Oscar favourite La La Land to the post, also beating fellow Oscar-nominated films Manchester By The Sea, Loving and Hell Or High Water.

Accepting the award, Jenkins said: ‘I can’t say writing will get you on this stage but it will bring you close to the world. [This award] means the world to me.’

The Academy has ruled that Moonlight is ineligible for an Oscar nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category because it is based on the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney.

Instead the film is nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar.

If Jenkins wins the Oscar for best director on Sunday February 26, he will become the first black filmmaker to win the award in the ceremony’s 89-year history.

The WGA ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel yesterday, followed the theme established at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs with a number of political references throughout the evening.

Naturally, Donald Trump was highly referenced, with comedian Anthony Atamanuik even doing an impersonation of the US president taking to the stage, while two men dressed as Russian soldiers handed out awards.

Aaron Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing, criticised Mr Trump as he accepted the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for television writing achievement.

But, film-maker Oliver Stone warned that it had become ‘fashionable’ to criticise Trump, as he received the Lifetime Achievement award for his screen-writing.

A night of film and politics

Oliver Stone

The Oscar-winning director told the audience: ‘You can be critical of your government and your society.

‘You don’t have to fit in. It’s fashionable now to take shots at Republicans and Trump and all that, and avoid the Obamas and Clintons.

‘In the 13 wars we’ve started in the last 30 years and the 14 trillion dollars we’ve spent and the hundreds of thousands of lives perished from this earth, remember it wasn’t one leader. It’s a system, both Republican and Democrat.’

Aaron Sorkin

The West Wing creator said: ‘We’ve been told that as coastal elites we’re something less than real Americans and that we’re out of touch.

‘If you find it mind boggling that living and working in the two largest cities in America makes you less than a real American, you’re not the one who’s out of touch.

‘If you don’t think that turning away people who are seeking a safe haven from unspeakable brutality is a morally defensible idea, then you’re not the one who’s less than a real American.’

Patton Oswalt

The LA host said: ‘People here tonight are angry about two things — that Deadpool is nominated for Best Screenplay and that Trump is President.’

One of the main focuses of the night, however, was how La La Land failed to pick up a single gong, despite winning a record-breaking seven at the Globes.

Now the big question is: who will sweep up at the Oscars on February 26?

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