The 92nd Academy Awards: My Picks and Predictions

Oscar Sunday is finally here! 2019 was a great movie year, though as usual with the Academy Awards, not all of them were recognized for the industry’s most coveted prize. I think this shorter awards season played a role in that, as four films this year received nominations in the double digits, and they’re all nominated for Best Picture. Still, for the most part, the films that are recognized here are excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing which ones take home the gold. So as is my annual tradition on my blog, I’ll make predictions on which films will win the Academy Award in each category. And for the top eight categories (the four for acting, the two screenplay categories, Best Director, and of course, Best Picture), I’ll be including which of the nominees I’d pick for my own ballot. So without further ado, my thoughts on this year’s Oscar nominees…

Best Picture

First, my personal ranking of the nominees, from best to worst:

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

Overall, I think this is a solid line-up of films, even though there are a couple here that I didn’t really like. My top four films here would also be in my personal top ten of the year, so I’m especially happy to see them recognized by the Academy. As for the race itself, it’s been pretty interesting to see it evolve leading up to all the precursor awards and how it’s shifted throughout the season. On paper, you’d think it’d be a showdown between two legendary filmmakers, Martin Scorsese with The Irishman and Quentin Tarantino with Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, both of who created some of the most reflective work of their careers. But instead, the frontrunners going into the ceremony are Sam Mendes’s 1917 and Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, making what could be an exciting outcome at the end of the night. While I greatly admire the technical achievements of 1917, I’m really hoping the ceremony’s top award goes to Parasite and that history is made with a foreign-language film winning Best Picture for the first time in Oscars history. I know last year I predicted Roma being that film and that ended up not happening, but so many people in the industry really love this South Korean thriller even more than they did Alfonso Cuarón’s film, so I’m placing my bet on Parasite to get the big win. Still, I would not be at all surprised if this went to 1917 in the end, as the World War I epic has already won Best Picture prizes from the Golden Globes, PGA, and BAFTA.

My Pick: Parasite
My Prediction: Parasite

Best Director

Nominees (in alphabetical order by movie):

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

It must be said, as others in the film community have already mentioned, it’s very disappointing to see not a single woman nominated in this category. The one most likely to have made it in would’ve been Greta Gerwig, as her film Little Women earned a Best Picture nomination, but she’s just one of many talented female directors who made some of the best movies of the year (see also Lulu Wang for The Farewell and Céline Sciamma for Portrait of a Lady on Fire). It’s a little odd to see Todd Phillips in this category alongside Martin Scorsese, as Joker so clearly takes inspiration from Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, but obviously, Academy members loved this movie a lot, seeing as it earned the most nominations of any movie this year with 11. Anyway, this seems to be a race between Bong Joon Ho and Sam Mendes, the latter of whom won this same award 20 years ago for American Beauty. The impressive work that went into making 1917 appear as a continuous shot can’t be denied and Mendes has already received multiple accolades for his direction, including from the Golden Globes, DGA, and BAFTA. However, it’d be great to see a surprise win for Bong Joon Ho here, who so meticulously created such an engrossing film with Parasite.

My Pick: Bong Joon Ho, Parasite
My Prediction: Sam Mendes, 1917

Best Actor

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • 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

Before delving into the acting categories, I’ll just say off the top that all four of them seem to be locked up with the same actors winning as they’ve done already at the Golden Globes, SAG, and BAFTA. While none of them would be my personal pick for the Oscar, all four do turn in some of their best work and give admirable performances. In general, voters seem to go for the more showy performance, and there’s no performance that reflects this more than Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. He’s an actor who always gives an intriguing performance no matter the film (though I personally wouldn’t put his work here among his top five best), so it’ll be nice to see him finally win an Academy Award. The Best Actor category is a pretty good line-up overall, though there were some notable omissions with the likes of Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems, Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name, or Taron Egerton for Rocketman. My favorite Oscar-nominated performance out of any of the categories is Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory; it’s a long shot that he’ll win, so I’m just happy he finally earned his first Academy Award nomination. If there’s anyone that can beat Phoenix it’d probably be Adam Driver in Marriage Story, who gives one of the best performances in a career full of consistently good work. I also have to say I really enjoyed Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and think it’s among his very best (and much better than his Oscar-winning work in The Revenant).

My Pick: Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
My Prediction: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Best Actress

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

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

If there’s one acting category that could be vulnerable to a surprise win, I think it’s here in Best Actress. While Renée Zellweger has been winning virtually all the awards for her work in Judy, I wouldn’t say people love her performance as much as they do the other three predicted acting winners. I personally wasn’t too blown away by her performance and thought it was just fine (same with Charlize Theron in Bombshell, who similarly imitates a famous, real-life figure). If only Zellweger’s win actually meant her Oscar automatically goes to Judy Garland instead. Sadly my favorite two lead performances from an actress weren’t even recognized by Oscar here (Lupita Nyong’o for Us and Awkwafina in The Farewell). But I’d be happy to see any of the other three nominees who don’t already have an Academy Award win instead, especially Saoirse Ronan, who is now on her fourth Oscar nomination at just 25 years old for her performance as Jo March in Little Women.

My Pick: Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
My Prediction: Renée Zellweger, Judy

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • 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

This is definitely the most stacked of the four acting categories, as all these nominees have won at least one Oscar, even Brad Pitt, though his Academy Award is for being a producer for Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. So with that said, he’ll be the one winning the Academy Award tonight, as he has yet to win one for acting as his fellow nominees already have. His performance in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is my favorite of the projected acting winners, as it encapsulates his effortless charisma while also incorporating his character actor tendencies. Still, of these supporting nominees, his is a borderline lead performance, as he shares nearly the same amount of screen time as his co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio. My personal favorites in this category though are Joe Pesci closely followed by Al Pacino. I also would have loved to see Song Kang Ho for Parasite here, but at least he and the rest of the fantastic cast were recognized with the SAG award for Best Ensemble last month.

My Pick: Joe Pesci, The Irishman
My Prediction: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees (in alphabetical order by last name):

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

This award is basically Laura Dern’s to lose, and while I wasn’t as crazy about her performance in Marriage Story and she’s not necessarily my favorite here, I’ll be happy to see her finally win an Oscar. I can only imagine that she’ll bring both her legendary parents, Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, along with her and give a special shout-out to them. The rest of the nominees here all turn good work too, though I’m sad to see Jennifer Lopez or Zhao Shuzhen didn’t make the cut for their performances in Hustlers and The Farewell, respectively. So if I have to pick a favorite here it’d probably be Florence Pugh, who is so compelling as Amy March in Little Women and who also gave a completely different but equally terrific performance in Midsommar this past year.

My Pick: Florence Pugh, Little Women
My Prediction: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees (in alphabetical order):

  • Knives Out
  • Marriage Story
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Parasite

Outside of Best International Feature Film, I’m confident Parasite will win Best Original Screenplay, as it’s hard to deny how clever this film is and how it’s constructed. Bong Joon Ho also recently picked up screenplay awards at the WGA and BAFTA, so that definitely helps build the momentum. If there is a spoiler here, it’d have to be Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, but Quentin Tarantino already has two Oscars in this category for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained. If it weren’t for those two films in this category, I’d almost want to give the Oscar to Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story, but only if my favorite in the other screenplay category ended up winning…

My Pick: Parasite
My Prediction: Parasite

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees (in alphabetical order):

  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • The Two Popes

I’m really crossing my fingers for Greta Gerwig to win for her wonderful work adapting such a familiar story for Little Women. But all signs point to Taika Waiti winning Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit, as, like Bong Joon Ho, he recently won screenplay awards at the WGA and BAFTA. However, with some outcry over the lack of female filmmakers being recognized, it’s possible that the Academy may ultimately vote for Gerwig based on that standpoint, though her work here is worthy regardless.

My Pick: Little Women
My Prediction: Jojo Rabbit

And now the rest of my predictions…

  • Best Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 4
  • Best International Feature Film: Parasite
  • Best Documentary Feature: American Factory
  • Best Cinematography: 1917
  • Best Film Editing: Parasite
  • Best Production Design: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Best Costume Design: Little Women
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Bombshell
  • Best Original Score: Joker
  • Best Original Song: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
  • Best Sound Editing: 1917
  • Best Sound Mixing: 1917
  • Best Visual Effects: 1917
  • Best Animated Short Film: Hair Love
  • Best Documentary Short Film: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
  • Best Live Action Short Film: The Neighbor’s Window

A few thoughts on some of the categories:

  • The Best Animated Feature Film category has an interesting, unpredictable race this year, with Klaus and Missing Link winning a few of the big awards this season, and Frozen II not even making the final cut at the Academy Awards. But since the whole Academy is voting, it seems more likely that more people will have seen Toy Story 4, hence my prediction. But I can see the outcome going to basically any of the other nominees instead.
  • I think American Factory will ultimately prevail for Best Documentary Feature (it helps that the Obama’s production company is behind it), but I can see For Sama winning instead, which would be a welcome surprise as it was my favorite of the three nominees I saw in this category.
  • The toughest categories for me to narrow down a prediction for were Best Film Editing and Best Production Design. I really wanted to pick Parasite for both in the hopes that it will actually win, but I don’t know if that’s a realistic possibility, despite the industry’s love for the film. So instead, I decided to risk predicting it in Best Film Editing over Ford v Ferrari, which seems to be the favorite to win, though Parasite did win the guild award for its editing. As for Best Production Design, it seems to be a bit of a three-way race between Parasite, 1917, and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, but ultimately I think it’ll be hard for Academy members to resist the recreation of Hollywood in 1969.
  • With Best Costume Design, most awards pundits are pointing to Little Women as the winner, as voters have historically gone for older period pieces. But I think Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood could be a potential spoiler here, as I don’t think the Academy loves Little Women as much as it does that film.
  • There is definitely no equivalent to “Shallow” from A Star Is Born in the Best Original Song category this year, so I’m not too passionate about any of the nominees here, though I do think the nominated songs from Rocketman, Frozen II, and Harriet are fine. I will say though, that it’d be cool to see “Stand Up” from Harriet win just so Cynthia Erivo gets added to the EGOT winners list.
  • Overall, I’m predicting 1917 to take the most Oscars of the night with five wins, which would be exactly half of its nominations. That’s followed by Parasite winning four of its six nominations… which may be some overestimating on my part, but here’s hoping I’m underestimating it and the film ends up sweeping instead! After that, I have Joker and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood with two wins each, and then Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, and Marriage Story with just one win each. So that leaves the remaining two Best Picture nominees, Ford v Ferrari and The Irishman going home Oscar-less (the latter of which I’m especially sad to see not win any Academy Awards).

And that wraps up my Oscar predictions! I can’t say I’m especially confident with them, and I hope to be wrong and pleasantly surprised by some wins (obviously I want Parasite to win every category it’s nominated in!). So here’s hoping for a fun show tonight, and for some history-making wins at the 92nd Academy Awards.

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