“Barbie” by Greta Gerwig hits snag after Oscar category changes

"Barbie" by Greta Gerwig hits snag after Oscar category changes

The reclassification of the script has been met with criticism, especially as the WGA recognized the film as original.

Barbie, Greta Gerwig’s big-screen comedy, will be competing in the adapted script category at the upcoming Academy Awards. Gerwig’s film was originally nominated for an Oscar in the original script category.

Variety has learned that the Academy’s Writers Branch executive committee has categorised Barbie as an adapted script.

As previously reported by Variety, Barbie was expected to be nominated in the best original script category at this year’s WGA Awards. However, the reclassification has raised some eyebrows, especially since the WGA recognized the film as original work.

The reclassification will take place for the WGA’s upcoming awards season, but the Writers Branch of the Academy has the power to determine eligibility on its own.

The Academy’s decision to reclassify Barbie as an adapted script recalls similar cases in the past where WGA-backed films were reclassified as original by the Academy’s committee, such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016) or Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana (2005).

In Barbie’s case, it’s most likely because the movie’s two main characters – Barbie and Ken – were Mattel dolls decades before they were brought to life on screen. This is consistent with the Academy’s history of classifying films based on existing characters as “adapted” screenplays. Past nominees include Borat 2; Toy Story 3; Before Sunset; and Before Midnight.

Margot Robbie stars as Barbie, while Ryan Gosling portrays Ken in the film, which was written and directed by Gerwig and co-directed by Noah Baumbach. The story follows Barbie as she struggles with her identity in Barbie World, leading her and Ken to explore the real world for answers about her existence.

When Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday, Jan. 11, the writers’ branch will vote only on Barbie’s Oscar-nominated adapted script. Barbie is likely to face stiff competition in the adapted script category, including Tony McNamara’s Poor Things, the Eric Roth-Martin Scorsese-Christopher Nolan-directed Killers Of The Flower Moon, and Oppenheimer.

Now that Barbie isn’t in the original script category, there’s an opportunity for other films to rise to the top. Past Lives (written by Celine Song) and The Holdovers (directed by Alexander Payne) could be contenders for the lead. Todd Haynes (writer-director)’s May December and Justin Theroux’s A Fall (director-writer-producer) have both been nominated for preliminary awards.