Sometimes it’s not always the early bird that gets the worm.
At least that seems to be the case for Sam Mendes’ “1917” which was the last film to screen for award guilds and voters in late November. Entering an already crowded field that included “The Irishman,” “Once Upon A Time In...Hollywood,” and “Little Women,” “1917” has emerged as the Oscar frontrunner.
For awhile at least, Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” was the presumed frontrunner, scooping up a heaping of critic awards across the country and was named NBR’s Best Film of 2019. But after a disappointing Golden Globes showing and no love from the SAG, DGA, and WGA, it would seem the film’s goose is cooked. And though “Joker” leads the Best Picture pack with 11 nominations, I think it’ll be too polarizing to win the top prize. Then of course there was the case for the Quentin Tarintino’s “Once Upon A Time In...Hollywood” which picked up major prizes from a variety of guild awards, but alas it’s momentum has been stifled by the PGA who instead went with “1917.” For reference, 9 of the 10 previous PGA winners have gone on to win Best Picture, a stern indicator for where Oscar night could be headed. But then “Parasite” had to win the SAG ensemble award and suddenly things got interesting.
As of this writing, the WWI epic made to look like one continuous shot, “1917” and Bong Joon-Ho’s satirical masterpiece “Parasite” are in a foot race for the finish line. Which, ironically, is very similar to last year when it was between “Green Book” and “Roma” with “Green Book” winning the top prize. Will Oscar voters embrace a foreign language film for Best Picture and make history? Or go with the safe choice in “1917?” Below I outline my predictions in all 24 categories.
Best Picture: 1917
As history has indicated, Oscar voters like to award big and flashy American theatrical experiences (sorry Netflix) and this year looks to be no different. “1917” is the safest bet to hear called for Best Picture on Oscar Sunday, but I will be ecstatic to see “Parasite” win and we can’t count out the hopeful longshot: “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.” And if “Joker” somehow pulls an upset, prepare for the whole Oscar empire to be destroyed.
Best Director: Sam Mendes (1917)
This is probably the most fluid category of the night as Sam Mendes seems poised to win his second directing Oscar for helming “1917,” though the love for Bong Joon-Ho is as strong as ever with “Parasite.” Though it would be nice to see Quentin Tarantino win his first directing Oscar.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
As safe a bet as any come Oscar sunday. Phoenix has made waves and headlines on the award circuit for his transformative performance as Arthur Fleck in Todd Phillips’ divisive “Joker.” The only prayer Adam Driver from “Marriage Story” has is if literally no voter watched “Joker.”
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger (Judy)
I said it back in September that Best Actress was Renee Zellwegger’s to lose and it seems like my prediction will come true. There’s been no indication from previous award shows that say otherwise, but we could be looking at another Glenn Close situation from last year, and Scarlett Johannson might sneak enough votes for her beautiful work in “Marriage Story.” Hopeful longshot: Saoirse Ronan for “Little Women.”
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt (Once Upon A Time In...Hollywood)
Pitt seems destined to win his first Oscar for his job as stuntman Cliff Booth in “Hollywood” and though the performance doesn’t scream “Oscar worthy” - let this be his “due” award for all his previous efforts. This is simply a case of “this is his time.” But we never want to underestimate Tom Hanks who’s a nominee for the first time since 2000’s “Cast Away” for his role as Fred Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Another sure bet. But my hopeful longshot here is Florence Pugh who had a banner year with “Little Women,” “Fighting with My Family” and “Midsommar.”
Other predictions are as follows:
Best Adapted Screenplay: Taiki Waititi for Jojo Rabbit
Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In...Hollywood
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 4
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins for 1917
Best Costume Design: Little Women
Best Documentary Feature: American Factory
Best Documentary Short: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Best Film Editing: Ford V Ferrari
Best International Feature Film: Parasite
Best Makeup & Hairstyling: Bombshell
Best Original Song: I’m Gonna Love Me Again from Rockeman
Best Original Score: Joker
Best Production Design: Once Upon A Time In...Hollywood
Best Animated Short: Hair Love
Best Short, Live Action: A Sister
Best Sound Editing: 1917
Best Sound Mixing: 1917
Best Visual Effects: Avengers: Endgame
The 92nd Annual Academy Awards are Sunday, February 9th, 2020 on ABC starting at 8pm.