2020 Academy Awards: Predictions and Picks

Well, it’s finally that time.

The 92nd Oscar’s take place this Sunday night. This feel like one of the most predictable Oscar years in recent memory. The four acting categories seem to have been decided over a month ago, and there are clear frontrunners for Best Picture and Best Director as well. Not too many people are predicting major upsets, which seems to have limited the level of excitement for this year’s awards. There has been speculation that the truncated nature of this year’s award season is, in part, to blame for the predictability of this year’s show. Of course, the Oscar’s usually take place sometime around late February or early March. I would not say the shortened season is fully to blame for the lack of unpredictability, but, it does seem like clear frontrunners were established early, and there wasn’t much time for anything else to make a push.

With that being said, I am still somewhat excited about this year’s awards. I’m looking forward to seeing how the no host option works out for a second year in a row. Although I thought they handled it well last year, I think they made a mistake going hostless for a second consecutive year. I am predicting the ratings take a pretty decent hit this year, and I think a host could have helped that to some degree.

2019 has been called the best film year of the decade, so I’m hoping we get an Oscar’s that lives up to that. However, the predictability, and some of the boring and safe potential winners that seem to be likely, have me worried this award show will not truly represent the brilliant year of film that 2019 was. Nothing is ever certain until it is announced though, and we have seen upsets in the past. The only thing left to do is wait until 8:00PM EST Sunday night, and see what choices the Academy has made. Before that happens though, I’m going to give both my predictions for each award, and share what I would pick as the winner for each award. I’m going to include predictions and picks for every award except the three short film awards. And, as I have less to say about some of the smaller awards, I’m going to get those out of the way quickly to start, before I delve deeper into some of the main awards.

Achievement In Sound Editing:

  • Ford V. Ferrari
  • Joker
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Prediction: 1917. My Pick: 1917.

Achievement In Sound Mixing:

  • Ad Astra
  • Ford V. Ferrari
  • Joker
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood

My Prediction: 1917. My Pick: Ad Astra.

I’ll be fully transparent, I still don’t really understand the difference between sound editing and sound mixing. There has been talk about combining these awards into one, which I don’t think would be a bad idea, considering I think most viewers and even many voters are in the same boat as me. From what I’ve read and attempted to understand, sound editing is more about the creation of the sound, and sound mixing is more about how well they weave those different sounds together. Regardless, I think 1917 is going to do really well with a lot of the below-the-line categories. I wanted to give a shoutout to Ad Astra, because as I was sitting in the theater watching that film, it felt like I was experiencing something rare and remarkable, in terms of the sound, as well as the visuals.

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:

  • Bombshell
  • Joker
  • Judy
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • 1917

My Prediction: Bombshell. My Pick: Bombshell.

Bombshell is the betting favorite, and the predicted winner for this category. Even though I thought the film overall was a bit of a mess, I do agree that the way makeup was used to make these actors resemble the real-life people they’re playing was impressive. I also just wanted to point out that I think it is hilarious that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is an Oscar nominated film.

Achievement in Costume Design:

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood

My Prediction: Little Women. My Pick: Little Women.

I think this award will either go to Little Women or Jojo Rabbit. Ultimately, I feel like Little Women is more of a classic costume design choice, which I don’t mind because I’ll be happy anytime that film wins an award on Sunday.

Achievement in Cinematography:

  • Rodrigo Prieto, The Irishman
  • Lawrence Sher, Joker
  • Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse
  • Roger Deakins, 1917
  • Robert Richardson, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood

My Prediction: Roger Deakins. My Pick: Roger Deakins.

In an incredibly predictable Oscar’s year, this feels like one of the biggest, if not the biggest, lock of the night. 1917′s legendary cinematographer, Roger Deakins, is going to win this award. He deserves it too. There is no denying the beautiful way in which that film was shot, and how great it looks projected onto a theater screen.

Achievement in Production Design:

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
  • Parasite

My Prediction: 1917. My Pick: Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood.

This is the first category I’ve predicted so far that does not seem to have one clear frontrunner. Instead, this is a race between 1917 and Once Upon A Time, with Parasite running in a relatively close third. I’m preparing myself for 1917 to walk away with so many of these types of awards. However, I think the attention to detail in the production design of Once Upon A Time is unrivaled in any other film nominated.

Achievement in Film Editing:

  • Ford V. Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Parasite

My Prediction: Ford V. Ferrari. My Pick: Parasite.

Another category that feels like it could go a couple different ways. I love the racing scenes in Ford V. Ferrari and think they are edited flawlessly. However, the editing in Parasite during certain tension-building scenes adds more to the overall experience of the film, in my opinion. I wouldn’t necessarily have a problem with either one of these films winning this award, however, if I was in charge of selecting the winner I would choose Parasite. Also, this will be an important category to watch because if Parasite does in fact win here, that will help its chances of possibly pulling off the upset and taking home Best Picture.

Achievement in Visual Effects:

  • Avengers: Endgame
  • The Irishman
  • The Lion King
  • 1917
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Prediction: 1917. My Pick: Avengers: Endgame.

Once again, I’m predicting 1917 to win. In recent years the Academy has elected to go the route of the less “in your face” visual effects movies, like Endgame or Rise of Skywalker. In fact, last year this award was won by First Man over Avengers: Infinity War. Furthermore, in this category, a Best Picture nominee has only lost to a non Best Picture nominee once in the last 49 years. Therefore, it would stand to reason that this award is going to 1917. However, there is no denying the impressive nature of the effects in the sensory overload of a film, that is, Avengers: Endgame.

Best Original Song:

  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4
  • “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman
  • “I’m Standing With You,” Breakthrough
  • “Into The Unknown,” Frozen 2
  • “Stand Up,” Harriet

My Prediction: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.” My Pick: “Stand Up.”

This feels like a weak collection of choices for this category. For me personally, none of the nominees really separate themselves from the rest of the pack. However, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” is a fairly large favorite at this point. I happen to think “Stand Up” is just a better and more powerful song. I wouldn’t say “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” is a bad song by any means, and I’m certain that many Academy voters are very interested in the idea of giving an award to Elton John.

Best Original Score:

  • Hildur Guðnadóttir, Joker
  • Alexandre Desplat, Little Women
  • Randy Newman, Marriage Story
  • Thomas Newman, 1917
  • John Williams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

My Prediction: Hildur Guðnadóttir. My Pick: Randy Newman.

Guðnadóttir has established herself as the clear frontrunner for this award. She won, in this category, at both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. While I think the score for Joker is very well done, I believe Randy Newman’s score for Marriage Story is more important to that film than any of the other nominated scores are, to their respective films. That being said, I do think all five of these composers did great work this year, and I wouldn’t consider any of them winning this award outrageous.

Best Animated Feature:

  • How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • I Lost My Body
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link
  • Toy Story 4

My Prediction: Toy Story 4. My Pick: Toy Story 4.

Somehow, in a year full of predictable awards, Best Animated Feature has become one the most unpredictable categories of the night. Klaus just recently won big at the Annie awards. Missing Link has been campaigning hard all award season, and won this award at the Golden Globes. I Lost My Body is the arthouse pick. Ultimately, I decided to go with my favorite animated film of the year, Toy Story 4. Now, this film has one major thing going against it, in that, the Academy has only given this award to a sequel one time. The good news though, is that one win was Toy Story 3. In the end, I think the Academy’s love for Pixar will still reign supreme in this category, even if it feels like that love has lessened a bit over the past few years.

Best International Feature Film:

  • Corpus Christi
  • Honeyland
  • Les Misérables
  • Pain and Glory
  • Parasite

My Prediction: Parasite. My Pick: Parasite.

Forget Roger Deakins or the acting categories, THIS is the biggest lock of the night. There is no way the Best Picture nominated Parasite does not win this award. The only real question is whether or not Parasite will also take home Best Picture at the end of the night as well.

Best Documentary Feature:

  • American Factory
  • The Cave
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • For Sama
  • Honeyland

My Prediction: American Factory. My Pick: American Factory.

Honeyland, which also scored a nomination for Best International Feature, is a formidable contender here. Also, there has been some real buzz about For Sama pulling off a win here as well. I still think American Factory is the favorite, and is my choice to win this award. American Factory is not only the best documentary I saw last year, but also, one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. The film has received a very strong push from Netflix, and is executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama. Those names, mixed with the quality of the film itself, should result in a win.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Steven Zaillian, The Irishman
  • Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit
  • Todd Phillips & Scott Silver, Joker
  • Greta Gerwig, Little Women
  • Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes

My Prediction: Taika Waititi. My Pick: Greta Gerwig.

With the predictable nature of so many of the big awards this year, the two screenplay categories have become the ones I’m looking forward to the most. I’m prepared for both of them to disappoint me though. I’m not sure how Waititi became the frontrunner over Gerwig here, but I’m really hoping she is able to pull off the upset. The Jojo Rabbit screenplay has its nice moments, however, Gerwig’s Little Women is a much more compelling script. With the beautiful, rhythmic nature of the dialogue, the plethora of emotionally charged moments, and the splicing back and forth in time, the Little Women script is undeniably one of the best of the year, and deserves to win in this category. I refuse to get my hopes up though, so I’m prepared to be disappointed by the Academy’s selection of Waititi.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Rian Johnson, Knives Out
  • Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
  • Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, 1917
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
  • Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin Won, Parasite

My Prediction: Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin Won. My Pick: Noah Baumbach.

Not to spoil my predictions for Best Director and Best Picture, but I think this is where we are ultimately going to see the Academy celebrate Bong Joon-Ho and Parasite. This category is similar to Best Adapted Screenplay, in that, I’m prepared for the person who I believe to have written the best script, in this case Noah Baumbach, to lose. However, I won’t be as disappointed as I presumably will be for Best Adapted, because I still really like the Parasite script, as well as the Once Upon A Time script, which is probably running in second place in this category. I will say though, if Baumbach and Gerwig somehow both win for their scripts, then I would be completely okay with literally anything else happening with the rest of the categories.

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

My Prediction: Brad Pitt. My Pick: Brad Pitt.

We’ve finally reached those predictable acting categories I’ve hinted at multiple times, and I’m not bold enough to predict an upset here. Though Pitt has received an Oscar for his role as a producer on the Best Picture winning film, 12 Years a Slave, he has yet to win an Oscar for acting in his career. It seems that is about to change though. This potential win does not feel like a legacy win though, Pitt truly gave an Oscar-worthy performance, and he is going to be awarded for that on Sunday night. I thought the other four legendary actors in this category all gave great performances themselves, however, this has been Pitt’s award for months now, and there is nothing that is going to stand in his way.

Best Supporting Actress:

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

My Prediction: Laura Dern. My Pick: Laura Dern.

Again I am not bold enough to predict an upset, and again I agree with the likely winner. I was tempted to choose Florence Pugh for my pick, because I love her work in Little Women, but I had to stand by my love of Marriage Story, and Laura Dern’s performance in it. There is an argument to be made this award is really celebrating Baumbach’s script rather than Dern’s performance, and people have certainly made that argument. However, just because she was given a role to shine in, that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t on her to shine. I’m also happy that Dern’s virtually guaranteed win in this category means that Marriage Story won’t go home empty handed.

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

My Prediction: Joaquin Phoenix. My Pick: Adam Driver.

It’s interesting because all three acting category predictions I’ve made so far have a “it’s their time” element to them. Phoenix should probably have an Oscar already, and he is most likely about to win his first for Joker, which I do not believe is the best performance of his career. I do think he gives a very good performance in Todd Phillips’ “anti-comic book” film, but I just don’t think there was a single performance better than Driver in Marriage Story. Also, I think a few years from now we are going to look back on DiCaprio’s performance in Once Upon A Time, and realize we should have appreciated it more in the moment. I think Pitt is stealing much of the shine from that film, but what DiCaprio does is incredible and, in my opinion, actually a better performance than the one Pitt gives. For its great comedic elements, that is probably my “favorite” performance of the year, but Driver’s remains the best, and Phoenix remains the likely Oscar winner.

Best Actress:

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

My Prediction: Renée Zellweger. My Pick: Saoirse Ronan.

Well, I guess I’m not courageous enough to predict an upset in any of the four acting categories. Zellweger has remained the favorite throughout all of this year’s award season, and I’m predicting she takes home the Oscar. I recently got a chance to actually see Judy, and definitely understood why that performance has gotten so much buzz. However, I don’t fully understand how easily she claimed, and has held onto, that definite favorite spot. Zellweger has of course already won an Oscar for her work in 2004’s Cold Mountain, so it’s not like this would be a “it’s her time” win, like it could be for some of the other acting award winners. Also, even though I enjoyed Judy, this just feels like the least interesting choice the Academy could make here. I went back and forth between Johansson and Ronan for who I wanted to choose as my pick. Ultimately, I decided on Ronan because I think that will be another one of the great performances from this year that we will look back on and wish we appreciate more in the moment. She has two scenes in Little Women in particular, one in which she rejects Timothée Chalamet’s character and one in which she breaks down in front of Laura Dern’s character, that cement that performance as Oscar-worthy for me.

Best Director:

  • Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
  • Todd Phillips, Joker
  • Sam Mendes, 1917
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
  • Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

My Prediction: Sam Mendes. My Pick: Bong Joon-Ho.

This was perhaps the toughest category for me to make my personal pick for, even though I feel it is a fairly easy category to predict. It just feels like 1917′s year. That film gained momentum early on in award season and never let go of it. Also, 1917 is probably the greatest technical achievement of the year, which is the type of film the Academy loves awarding in this category. I say this was the toughest category for me to make my pick for though, because I was having a hard time deciding between Martin Scorsese, Bong Joon-Ho, and Quentin Tarantino. I love all three of their films so much, and I think they are all masterfully directed. Ultimately, I chose Bong because there are more sequences in his film that blew me away when I was watching it, compared to all the other films this year. It is a film in which you almost don’t realize the brilliance of the directing while you’re watching it, because it is so seamless and you’re so captivated by the story. However, when you think about it, you realize just how incredible of a job Bong Joon-Ho did with that film.

Best Picture:

  • Ford V. Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
  • Parasite

My Prediction: 1917. My Pick: Marriage Story. My Pick From The Films That Actually Have A Chance: Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood.

Before I start, I want to say that I really enjoyed 1917. The film was incredibly well done, and certainly a great theater experience. The filmmaking is, of course, remarkable, but I also found myself moved by many of the performances as well. The film is an incredible adventure, and deserved a Best Picture nomination. With that being said, I will feel some sense of disappointment if that film wins on Sunday night, which it is likely to do. It is the classic Oscar choice for Best Picture. It feels like the safe choice, and, in my many ways, the boring choice. 2019 was such a great year for film, and it just doesn’t feel like 1917 should be the representative of that. Again, it is a film I enjoy, but, I question whether it is going to be the film I remember most from this past year, or a film that I am going to be frequently rewatching over the next few years. Other films from 2019 feel like they are going to live on and remain relevant after this year’s awards, more so than 1917 will. The five films I would feel satisfied with winning Best Picture are Marriage Story, The Irishman, Parasite, Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood, and Little Women. Those feel like the most important films of the year, as well as the best. Marriage Story was my number one film of the year, so I had to include it as my pick for this category. However, at this point, no film outside of 1917, Parasite, and Once Upon A Time really has a chance. Out of those three options, I enjoy Once Upon A Time the most. I’m curious to see if the Academy goes in a bold, new direction and awards a film like Parasite, or if they stick to their traditional ways and choose the conventional choice, 1917. I’m not too optimistic the Academy is capable of great change though. Also, since 1917 is the least divisive film out of all the nominees, the preferential ballot system should help it secure a victory.

My Best Picture Ballot:

  1. Marriage Story
  2. Once Upon A Time … in Hollywood
  3. The Irishman
  4. Parasite
  5. Little Women
  6. 1917
  7. Ford V. Ferrari
  8. Joker
  9. Jojo Rabbit