Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat Subsequent Moviefilm was partly improvised and scripted by nine writers, but it still walked away with one of the Writers Guild Awards' top honours on Sunday night, winning Best Adapted Screenplay.
At the guild's virtual, pre-recorded 73rd annual awards, the biggest winners were a pair of awards-season dark horses. Best Original Screenplay went to the script for the feminist revenge thriller Promising Young Woman, by writer-director Emerald Fennell.
The film, which is nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture, triumphed over The Trial of the Chicago 7, Sound of Metal, Judas and the Black Messiah and Palm Springs.
The Borat sequel win came over Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, News of the World, One Night in Miami and The White Tiger. Because of regulations that stipulate nominees must be members of the guild, several of this year's Best Picture nominees at the Academy Awards weren't nominated, including Mank, Nomadland, Minari and The Father.
Baron Cohen accepted the award via Zoom alongside his fellow eight credited writers for the film's screenplay and story.
“Thank you for this incredible award, though I can’t help thinking we won it because 60 per cent of the Writers Guild worked on this movie,” said Baron Cohen. “A film like this is extremely hard to write partly because it stars real people whose behaviour is completely unpredictable. Well, apart from Rudy Giuliani who did everything we hoped for.”
Kal Penn hosted the show, streamed privately for invitees, from his living room. He started the evening dressed in a tuxedo and ended in his pyjamas.
Best documentary screenplay went to the Jamal Khashoggi documentary The Dissident, written by director Bryan Fogel and Mark Monroe. The film, which streaming services were too timid to acquire, Fogel has argued, missed out on an Oscar nomination.
Other awards included Ted Lasso for Best Comedy Series; The Crown for Best Drama Series; The Great for Best Episodic Comedy; and the Fire Pink episode in Ozark for Best Episodic Drama.