Oscar Guide 2020

A shortened season hasn’t brought many surprises, but that doesn’t mean you should take many of these picks to the bank.

Dean Charles Chapman and George Mackay in 1917
BEST PICTURE
1917
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Parasite

Will win: 1917
Could and should win: Parasite
Should have been here: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

The skinny: With wins at BAFTA, the PGAs, the DGAs, and the Golden Globes, 1917 is basically a lock. While Parasite did win the top prize at SAG (where it didn’t compete against 1917) and has a near-universal approval rating, do you honestly think the same Academy that gave Green Book Best Picture last year is going to turn around and give a foreign language film the top prize? I would love to see it, but it would be an enormous shock. They should have gone even further and nominated another foreign language film, but Portrait of a Lady on Fire sadly didn’t get love anywhere.

Sam Mendes on the set of 1917
BEST DIRECTOR
Sam Mendes, 1917
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Todd Phillips, Joker
Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Bong Joon Ho, Parasite

Will win: Sam Mendes
Could and should win: Bong Joon Ho
Should have been here: Greta Gerwig, Little Women

The skinny: Even when I initially thought Once upon a Time… in Hollywood would win, and even when I thought there might be a path for Parasite to shock the world, I always thought Mendes would pick up his second Oscar here. A DGA win confirms it. Still can’t believe Todd Phillips got nominated here, especially when Little Women is 10 times the film Joker is, but here we are.

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
BEST ACTOR
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Will win: Joaquin Phoenix
Could and should win: Adam Driver
Should have been here: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

The skinny: I don’t think a big Joker sweep is possible, despite it leading in nominations. But this is a definite lock. Phoenix is long overdue, and he’s the best part of this dreadful movie. I’ll just pretend it’s a win for The Master instead. And most of the Academy was never going anywhere near a movie as wild as Uncut Gems, so I wasn’t that surprised Adam Sandler’s name wasn’t called.

Renée Zellweger in Judy
BEST ACTRESS
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Renée Zellweger, Judy

Will win: Renée Zellweger
Could and should win: Saoirse Ronan
Should have been here: Lupita Nyong’o, Us

The skinny: This has seemingly been locked up since August, when Judy premiered at Telluride. But if any category is due for a shake-up, it’s this one. Unfortunately, the year’s best performance wasn’t even nominated, as Lupita was ignored. But picking who could upset here is extremely difficult. If it’s anyone else, I think it’s Saoirse Ronan, already on her fourth nomination. But it could also be Scarlett Johansson, giving her best performance to date in Marriage Story. (Though double nominees have often struck out as of late.)

Brad Pitt in Once upon a Time in Hollywood
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

Will and should win: Brad Pitt
Could win: Tom Hanks
Should have been here: Sterling K. Brown, Waves

The skinny: All previous winners and Brad Pitt, which certainly helps his case. He should have won for Moneyball, and he’s not really a supporting actor, but he’s won basically every precursor, so I wouldn’t bet against this charming man. And if Waves had done better, I think an actor as popular as Sterling K. Brown could have found his way in, but that movie seems to be lost to time already.

Laura Dern in Marriage Story
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Will win: Laura Dern
Could win: Margot Robbie
Should win: Florence Pugh
Should have been here: Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

The skinny: Let’s get this out of the way first: They blew it by not nominating Jennifer Lopez. Just a complete travesty. And I’m also not that amazed by Laura Dern here, even though I love her. (She’s better in Little Women, honestly.) So I’ll also consider this a long overdue makeup award for Wild at Heart.

The cast of Parasite
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1917
Knives Out
Marriage Story
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Parasite

Will and should win: Parasite
Could win: Marriage Story
Should have been here: The Farewell

The skinny: I had long thought this was a battle between Marriage Story and Once upon a Time… in Hollywood, but with Parasite seemingly locked out of Best Picture and Best Director, I think the writers’ branch will honor the year’s best script, only the second time this century it will have gone to a foreign language film. But that 1917 nomination is still baffling, especially when there were a lot of worthy nominees, including Lulu Wang’s deeply personal The Farewell.

Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
The Two Popes

Will win: Jojo Rabbit
Could and should win: Little Women 
Should have been here: Dark Waters

The skinny: That snub of Greta in the directing category may end up working in her favor. It’s clearly the superior nominee here, but it’s hard to see how it beats Jojo Rabbit, which won at the WGA and BAFTA. I’ve been underestimating it all season. But if Joker wins, I’ll probably shut the TV off and walk into the sea. That portends an evening I don’t want to experience. The script is the worst part of the film, and that slot should have gone to the timely, terrifying Dark Waters instead.

toy_story4
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Klaus
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

Will win: Toy Story 4
Could win: Klaus
Should win: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Should have been here: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

The skinny: When in doubt, bet on Disney. When they’re nominated, they rarely lose. But there’s no consensus thus far to make a strong case for Toy Story 4. Missing Link won the Golden Globe (and LAIKA is overdue), while the Annie Awards’ split categories went to the two Netflix entries. My hope is that the always-a-bridesmaid How to Train Your Dragon franchise finally gets its due, but I don’t see its luck changing.

Park So-dam and Choi Woo-sik in Parasite
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
Les Misérables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea)

Will and should win: Parasite
Could win: Pain and Glory
Should have been here: N/A

The skinny: Along with Best Actor, you can go ahead and lock this in. This is a guarantee.

american_factory
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
American Factory
The Cave
The Edge of Democracy
For Sama
Honeyland

Will win: American Factory
Could win: For Sama
Should win: N/A
Should have been here: Apollo 11

The skinny: With the incredible Apollo 11 somehow snubbed, it’s anyone’s guess. But precursors have gone to the timely American Factory, though it may not be bleak enough for this branch, so don’t count out heart-wrenching Syrian entry For Sama.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk Run Cha-Cha

Will win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Could win: Life Overtakes Me
Should win: N/A
Should have been here: N/A

BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
Brotherhood
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbors’ Window
Saria
A Sister

Will win: Saria
Could win: A Sister
Should win: N/A
Should have been here: N/A

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Dcera (Daughter)
Hair Love
Kitbull
Memorable
Sister

Will and should win: Hair Love
Could win: Dcera (Daughter)
Should have been here: N/A

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
1917
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Parasite

Will win: 1917
Could win: Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Should win: Parasite
Should have been here: Knives Out

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

Will win: Little Women
Could win: Jojo Rabbit 
Should win: Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Should have been here: Dolemite Is My Name

BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING
1917
Bombshell
Joker
Judy
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Will and should win: Bombshell
Could win: 1917
Should have been here: Little Women

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
1917
The Irishman
Joker
The Lighthouse
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

Will and should win: 1917
Could win: Joker
Should have been here: Portrait of a Lady on Fire

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
1917
Avengers: Endgame
The Irishman
The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Will win: 1917
Could win: The Lion King
Should win: Avengers: Endgame
Should have been here: Ad Astra

BEST FILM EDITING
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Parasite

Will and should win: Parasite
Could win: Ford v Ferrari
Should have been here: Apollo 11

BEST SOUND EDITING
1917
Ford v Ferrari
Joker
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Will win: 1917
Could and should win: Ford v Ferrari
Should have been here: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

BEST SOUND MIXING
1917
Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
Joker
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood

Will and should win: 1917
Could win: Ford v Ferrari
Should have been here: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
1917
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Will win: Joker
Could and should win: 1917
Should have been here: Avengers: Endgame

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“I’m Standing with You” (Breakthrough)
“Into the Unknown” (Frozen II)
“Stand Up” (Harriet)
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (Rocketman)
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” (Toy Story 4)

Will win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”
Could win: “Into the Unknown”
Should win: “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away”
Should have been here: “Glasgow” (Wild Rose)

Winners:
1917 – Picture, Directing, Production Design, Cinematography, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
American Factory – Documentary Feature
Bombshell – Make-up & Hairstyling
Jojo Rabbit – Adapted Screenplay
Joker – Actor, Original Score
Judy – Actress
Little Women – Costume Design
Marriage Story – Supporting Actress
Once upon a Time… in Hollywood – Supporting Actor
Parasite – Original Screenplay, International Feature Film, Film Editing
Rocketman – Original Song
Toy Story 4 – Animated Feature

Losers: Ad Astra, Avengers: Endgame, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Breakthrough, The Cave, Corpus Christi, The Edge of Democracy, For Sama, Ford v Ferrari, Frozen II, Harriet, Honeyland, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, I Lost My Body, The Irishman, Klaus, Knives Out, Les Misérables, The Lighthouse, The Lion King, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Missing Link, Pain and Glory, Richard Jewell, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Two Popes

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