2020 Oscar Winner Predictions….Bored, and Yet Hopeful

Well…this is it. After countless award shows were cramped into the month of January, we are now approaching the Academy Awards which will be airing this Sunday February 9th. This year, everything is being held a lot sooner than normal which sort of made for an interesting process in terms of what films and performances were getting nominated…but sadly, it seems to have caused less time for certain films and performances to possibly gain momentum over the repeated frontrunners (particularly in the acting races).

There is more suspense (if you can call it that) in the Best Picture and Screenplay races…although there are certain films that seem to have gripped a stronger hold on those races.

So here are my final predictions for the top categories and they will be ranked in the order that I feel they actually have a shot of pulling off the win.

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BEST PICTURE:

#1-Parasite

#2-1917

#3-Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

#4-Jojo Rabbit

#5-Joker

#6-The Irishman

#7-Marriage Story

#8-Little Women

#9-Ford v. Ferrari

-As I have said before, I feel like the fact that my unabashed love for PARASITE is somewhat clouding my judgement here…but I am not alone on this prediction. With the way the Best Picture race has often gone in recent years, some films have managed to pull off mildly to completely surprising upsets (such as SPOTLIGHT, MOONLIGHT, and GREEN BOOK)  thanks to the preferential ballot. PARASITE currently has guild support in that it won the SAG Ensemble award along with the Writers Guild Award for Original Screenplay…which is also the same awards SPOTLIGHT pulled off even though that year the PGA went to THE BIG SHORT and the DGA went to Alejando Innaritu for THE REVENANT. There does seem to be a lot of passion for PARASITE which makes me think that it could still pull this off…but predicting 1917 may be safer. It won the Globe, PGA, DGA, and BAFTA and it doesn’t hurt that director Sam Mendes seems to be a lock for his award…and also, it isn’t a foreign language film which still hasn’t pulled off the big win. Some of the older and more conservative voters may scoff at PARASITE for that reason and think “Well it is going to win Best International Film so I don’t think it deserves Best Picture”…which, to me, is stupid. If it is the Best Film of the Year…it should win the freaking award. I suppose there is a chance HOLLYWOOD could still pull this off but it would be an upset/comeback all at once…and I would frankly be livid. In the case of JOKER, it may have gotten the most nominations but it will probably walk away with 2-3 wins but nothing more. MARRIAGE STORY has one win that seems pretty guaranteed but it is very likely that THE IRISMAN may go home empty handed which seems crazy considering many people (including me) considered it to be a big front runner up until the Globes.

WHO WILL WIN: Parasite

WHO COULD WIN: 1917

WHO SHOULD WIN: Parasite

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Portrait of a Lady on Fire, The Farewell, Pain & Glory, Uncut Gems, Us

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BEST DIRECTOR:

#1-Sam Mendes, 1917

#2-Bong Joon-ho, PARASITE

#3-Quentin Tarantino, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

#4-Martin Scorsese, THE IRISHMAN

#5-Todd Phillips, JOKER

-I can commend Mendes for his work here as he does a very good job staging this one-shot war epic…but it also comes down to how you like your direction: sprawling and majestic…or intricate and cunning. In this case, I obviously would vote for Bong Joon-ho over Mendes but I don’t think Mendes’ win would necessarily be undeserved. The only way I could see Tarantino pull this off is if people feel incredibly sentimental about the fact he has never won an Oscar for Directing (he has two for Screenplay)…but frankly, that would be a travesty. This isn’t his best work (not that that has stopped Academy members before) and he is also not worthy because he comes across as an entitled prick. His stone faced glares after he lost his two big BAFTAs to Mendes for Director and Bong for Screenplay turn me off and he doesn’t have the film to back up that kind of ego. Scorsese and Phillips winning would be major upsets in my opinion though I admire their work more than I did Tarantino’s.

WHO WILL WIN: Mendes

WHO COULD WIN: Bong

WHO SHOULD WIN: Bong

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Greta Gerwig, LITTLE WOMEN; Robert Eggers, THE LIGHTHOUSE; Celine Sciamma, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE; Pedro Almodovar, PAIN & GLORY

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BEST ACTOR:

#1-Joaquin Phoenix, JOKER

#2-Adam Driver, MARRIAGE STORY

#3-Antonio Banderas, PAIN & GLORY

#4-Leonardo DiCaprio, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

#5-Jonathan Pryce, THE TWO POPES

I don’t really need to spend a lot of time here. Joaquin Phoenix has this sewn up and anyone else pulling this off would be a major upset at this point. Driver and Banderas, in particular, are wonderful and worthy of recognition but I feel Phoenix is just simply the best and he has the awards clout to back it up. DiCaprio and Pryce were good but I almost wish Eddie Murphy, Taron Egerton, and Adam Sandler gained more traction in this race.

WHO WILL WIN: Phoenix

WHO COULD WIN: Anyone else would be a shocker.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Phoenix

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Adam Sandler, UNCUT GEMS; Eddie Murphy, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME; Taron Egerton, ROCKETMAN

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BEST ACTRESS:

#1-Renee Zellweger, JUDY

#2-Scarlett Johannson, MARRIAGE STORY

#3-Saorise Ronan, LITTLE WOMEN

#4-Charlize Theron, BOMBSHELL

#5-Cynthia Ervio, HARRIET

This is not a great category. Last year, Best Actor felt like a desolate space but this year seems like the Actresses got short shrift…although this category is missing the likes of Alfre Woodard for CLEMENCY, Awkwafina for THE FAREWELL, and my personal choice, Lupita Nyong’o for US…and even though she had no shot at all, Florence Pugh was worthy of a nom for her chilling work in MIDSOMMAR. Ever since JUDY came out at the end of September, Zellweger seemed to have the narrative and the critical praise and buzz to make her the frontrunner…and as it turned out, that buzz stuck through despite the fact she didn’t really have a presence at the major critic awards…that was actually Nyong’o who stood out the most. I don’t have anyone in this race that I am passionate about in any way…which is exactly how I felt with Best Actor last year. I am a proud member of the Judy Garland fan club so I was going to be extra critical of Zellweger’s performance…and while I appreciate the effort and the fact she did seem to immerse herself in studying her, I still feel the performance came off as too smooth and polished for the fact that it was occurring during the final year of her life.

WHO WILL WIN: Zellweger

WHO COULD WIN: I honestly don’t see anyone upsetting at this point.

WHO SHOULD WIN: I honestly don’t care…maybe not Erivo.

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Lupita Nyong’o, US; Awkwafina, THE FAREWELL

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

#1-Brad Pitt, ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

#2-Joe Pesci, THE IRISHMAN

#3-Al Pacino, THE IRISHMAN

#4-Tom Hanks, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

#5-Anthony Hopkins, THE TWO POPES

Pitt is basically locked to win this for what is essentially just a co-lead/star power performance. It isn’t that he is bad but I just don’t really think there is anything in his performance that makes him such a candidate for sweeping through the season. Pesci and Pacino both give interesting performances in THE IRISHMAN; the former is out of his retirement of sorts and gives an against type performance that is subtle but menacing while the latter is his usual larger than life self and he served as the true soul of that movie. Tom Hanks may not exactly look or sound like Fred Rogers but his demeanor and mannerisms felt nearly overwhelming in how they captured the essence of that wonderful man…but the tide isn’t going in his direction. Hopkins barely even made this lineup in my opinion, and he is another co-lead…and based on some early reports from Sundance regarding his performance in Florian Zeller’s THE FATHER, there is a good chance he may be back next year swinging for the gold in Best Actor.

WHO WILL WIN: Pitt

WHO COULD WIN: Another boring case where I just don’t see it happening anymore…prove me wrong please!!

WHO SHOULD WIN: Honestly….Pacino or Hanks among this list.

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Song Kang-ho, PARASITE; Willem Dafoe, THE LIGHTHOUSE

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

#1-Laura Dern, MARRIAGE STORY

#2-Scarlett Johannsen, JOJO RABBIT

#3-Florence Pugh, LITTLE WOMEN

#4-Margot Robbie, BOMBSHELL

#5-Kathy Bates, RICHARD JEWELL

I feel like I am turning my back on someone I love, but I still think the fact that Laura Dern has been sweeping for this performance in MARRIAGE STORY (including winning a couple of very reputable critics’ awards) is kind of proof of how this whole process is overtly political. Dern is a very beloved and respected actress who more than deserves an Oscar…and part of me will still love that I will be able to call her “Academy Award Winner Laura Dern” as of this Sunday…but she simply doesn’t deserve it for this performance. It isn’t that it is a bad performance…but she is essentially just playing a milder version of her famed Renata Klein character from BIG LITTLE LIES…and even her big “Oscar scene” where she talks about the differences between mothers and fathers comes across as too forced and mannered. I get that some of it may have been how she was directed, but it left me cold. Her closest competition was originally thought to have been Jennifer Lopez for HUSTLERS but she ended up getting left out which has angered quite a few people…and now there seems to be some prognosticators practically digging for any reason to find a potential upset in the acting races. Some have brought up the idea of Johannsen winning for JOJO RABBIT because she is double-nominated this year and in many cases when this has occurred, that contender often would win Supporting…though this hasn’t happened the last couple of times this occurred. Florence Pugh is also seen by some as a last minute surge passion pick but I really don’t think the tide is going to go her way…sadly. Margot Robbie has no shot although I do think she was also better than Dern…and admittedly, I haven’t seen RICHARD JEWELL so I can’t comment on Kathy Bates’ performance yet.

WHO WILL WIN: Dern

WHO COULD WIN: I guess if we want to have wishful thinking, then Johannsen or Pugh.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Pugh

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Pretty much any of the women from PARASITE

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

#1-Parasite

#2-Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

#3-Marriage Story

#4-1917

#5-Knives Out

I am hoping that the fact that PARASITE won the WGA and especially the BAFTA will give it the needed boost to push it over the edge to win the Oscar but there is one person who gives me much concern: Quentin Tarantino. He already has two Oscars for Screenplay and the only reason he didn’t win the WGA is because he never became a member of the guild…therefore, no nominations allowed. The question will be if he has enough support to pull off an upset here considering his film did have some momentum previously. Frankly I would be appalled if he pulled it off. I don’t foresee the other 3 pulling it off…and there was a time when it seemed like MARRIAGE STORY was the expected frontrunner and then that film’s awards chances dropped so fast aside from Dern’s sweep. It does still have its passionate fans but it does seem to have its fair share of detractors who found the film to be somewhat exaggerated and fake. KNIVES OUT does have a lot of fans but it is very rare for a film to win a Screenplay Oscar without a corresponding Best Picture nomination…and even rarer when the only nomination it has is for its Screenplay. I personally consider the nomination for 1917 as a coattail nom. The script has its merits but it also has moments that come across as too slight or too cloying (particularly one moment involving milk)…and I think the structure of the script doesn’t always work thanks to the one continuous shot gimmick, which didn’t exactly always impress me.

WHO WILL WIN: Parasite

WHO COULD WIN: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

WHO SHOULD WIN: Parasite

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Booksmart, The Lighthouse, Pain & Glory, The Farewell, Uncut Gems…those were more worthy than 1917 or HOLLYWOOD

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

#1-Jojo Rabbit

#2-Little Women

#3-The Irishman

#4-Joker

#5-The Two Popes

This was a category that originally didn’t seem to have much of consensus and many thought THE IRISHMAN would win sort of as a default…especially when it was thought to have been a Best Picture frontrunner. Then…LITTLE WOMEN won the Critics Choice and USC Scripter Awards and some thought maybe she would win as something of a consolation for the fact that she got snubbed for Director and also didn’t win either award for LADYBIRD two years ago…and it also didn’t hurt that she sort of revitalized LITTLE WOMEN with a non-linear approach which was often refreshing though not always successful. Things were shaken up again when JOJO RABBIT then pulled off the wins at WGA and BAFTA. The wins that LITTLE WOMEN won have a track record for being solid precursors but so do JOJO RABBIT’s…maybe even a tad more so. Despite how divisive the latter is, it does seem to have more key support and buzz so I am expecting it to carry the day here. JOKER and THE TWO POPES have almost no chance here in my eyes.

WHO WILL WIN: Jojo Rabbit

WHO COULD WIN: Little Women

WHO SHOULD WIN: Probably Little Women…I feel like there was a significant flaw in JOJO RABBIT’s story that almost hurt the movie completely for me despite its good qualities.

WHO WAS SNUBBED: Not as many strong contenders this year to be honest.

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As it stands, the Oscars this year are mostly void of any real suspense. I feel like the Screenplay races are fairly locked (though I am more nervous about Original Screenplay), the acting races seem all but assured to go to Phoenix, Zellweger, Pitt, and Dern, and Director seems pretty secure for Mendes. Picture is perhaps where we could see something big happen, because the “smart” choice would be 1917 but there does seem to be this groundswell of passion building for PARASITE…it just has the Foreign Language Film hurdle to overcome which is a major hurdle. Frankly, I am just ready for Sunday because in some ways, this season has been overly boring but I am also on such a tightrope hoping that PARASITE can pull it off that I am just ready to let the whole thing just drop.

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