Too Early for This: Oscar Picks – 13 Oct 2019

The Farewell
Ford v. Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Just Mercy
Marriage Story
Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Queen and Slim

Falling off: The Goldfinch, The Laundromat, Little Women
Rising star: The Two Popes
The skinny: The Goldfinch famously flopped. The Laundromat got mixed reviews and some mild controversy for a scene in which Meryl Streep dons brownface. And then there’s Little Women. It’s only problem seems to be premiering too late in the game. It won’t premiere at any festivals, and its Christmas Day opening might be a death sentence as far as awards are concerned, unless they get some early critics screenings going. It’s a problem that may also befall Queen and Slim, which will premiere at AFI Fest in November, only a couple weeks before its wide release. I’m leaving it as a major contender for now, but a month could really change things.

Sam Mendes, 1917
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Quentin Tarantino, Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Melina Matsoukas, Queen and Slim

Falling off: Lulu Wang
Rising star: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
The skinny: This seems like a mostly concrete lineup. If Queen and Slim doesn’t hit like I’ve been predicting, Bong Joon-ho could certainly take Matsoukas’s spot, even if Parasite doesn’t have any other major nominations. It’s certainly past time for Bong to get serious stateside recognition.

Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Daniel Kaluuya, Queen and Slim
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Falling off: Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks (moved to supporting)
Rising star: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems
The skinny: Another line-up I’m feeling strong in, despite a long list of guys just below this initial five. And while Uncut Gems has gotten mostly raves, it still feels super weird to talk about Academy Award nominee Adam Sandler. While this certainly has a higher profile than Good Time, that got a whopping zero nods. The Safdies are an acquired taste, and I don’t think it’s one voters will acquire any time soon. A24 will have to campaign hard for this to happen.

Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen and Slim
Renée Zellweger, Judy

Falling off: Brie Larson (moved to supporting)
Rising star: Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
The skinny: Feeling like an oddly thin year for lead actress performances, so I’m not expecting much movement here. Saoirse could still get in if the film gets more momentum. She’s clearly well-liked, as she’s already gotten three nods before the age of 25.

Christian Bale, Ford v. Ferrari
Sterling K. Brown, Waves
Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Brad Pitt, Once upon a Time in Hollywood

Falling off: Tommy Lee Jones, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Rising star: Alan Alda, Marriage Story
The skinny: This is easily the most competitive category this year. You’ll notice I’ve taken off past winners Tommy Lee Jones, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. The latter got the best reviews from the NYFF premiere of The Irishman, but he’s got a lot of competition. We’ll know soon enough how Fox/Disney chooses to slot Bale and Matt Damon (they’re clearly co-leads, but you know they’ll position one in supporting). Sterling K. Brown jumps into the category after getting great notices for Waves, which I still think faces major hurdles to get a Best Picture nod. There’s also the distinct possibility Marriage Story becomes the first film since American Hustle to get acting nods in all four categories. Laura Dern, clearly beloved, could also score in the Supporting Actress category.

Annette Bening, The Report
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell

Falling off: Nicole Kidman
Rising star: Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
The skinny: A great category, filled with women who have never won before, and a few who have never been nominated before. But I will lose my shit if Maggie Smith gets in for reprising her role as the Dowager Countess. I know she’s an international treasure, but she already has three Emmys for the role (at least one of which was bullshit). She doesn’t do anything new or special in the film adaptation, and a nomination would come at the cost of a woman who deserves the recognition far more.

The Farewell
Marriage Story
Once upon a Time in Hollywood
Queen and Slim

Falling off: Just Mercy (moved to adapted), The Souvenir
Rising star: Bombshell
The skinny: A pretty wonderful line-up in a field that’s not overcrowded. No one’s seen Bombshell yet, so it remains to be seen if it will be a powerhouse like Vice. But it’s certainly hitting on some of the same buttons.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Just Mercy

Falling off: The Goldfinch, The Laundromat, Little Women, Motherless Brooklyn
Rising star: The Two Popes 
The skinny: A lot of movement here, for reasons explained above. This was the best hope for poor Motherless Brooklyn, which will probably wind up on the podcast This Had Oscar Buzz before the year is out. (Though it might pick up a crafts nod or two.) Anthony McCarten has written the script for three of the last five Best Actor winners, but just one script nod (for writing The Theory of Everything, which somehow got nominated over Gone Girl). Netflix has their hands full with The Irishman and Marriage Story, but could still make a strong push for the film, which has been reported played like gangbusters with older viewers.

Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Toy Story 4
Weathering with You

Falling off: None
Rising star: Missing Link
The skinny: While I’m not predicting any movement, the category almost always finds a spot for a stop-motion animated film. Missing Link, while a huge flop, certainly fits the bill. Abominable, which didn’t exactly light the box office on fire, should watch its back.

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