Another awards season is now coming to a close, and every year it comes by, there always seems to be some kind of controversy attached to it. This year is no different, having given us one of the most divisive movies in a long time in Joker. Yet said film has lead the way with the most nominations (11). Furthermore, there has been a notable lack of diversity in the acting nominations, just barely avoiding another #OscarsSoWhite situation, and much like the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, a distinct lack of women in the director category, in spite of some truly excellent films made by women.
While it’s crystal clear that some work needs to be done on those matters, it has been a very strong year to round out the 2010s on the big screen and once again, there are 24 golden statues to give out. So who will be clutching one of those 24 golden statues that are on offer? Time to have a gaze at my metaphorical crystal ball and give my predictions, as well as give my own two cents on each category, minus the documentaries and the short films.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
- Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
- Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
- Charlize Theron – Bombshell
- Renée Zellweger – Judy
Last year, Olivia Colman unexpectedly (but very happily) took the statue ahead of strong favourite Glenn Close. This year, Renee Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland has been sweeping all before her, so a triumph for her seems certain. However, her likely win is frustrating given that her performance was easily the best thing about an otherwise bland/forgettable biopic.
Johansson has become the first actor to be nominated in lead and supporting since 2007, and her work in Marriage Story was arguably a career best. Charlize Theron was on reliably excellent form in Bombshell, Saorise Ronan’s excellent performance in Little Women has ensured she has very impressively chalked up a fourth nomination at the age of 25. While it is embarrassing that Cynthia Erivo is the only person of colour to get nominated, her performance as the inspirational civil rights icon Harriet Tubman was more than deserving of recognition, as was Awkwafina whose heart-wrenching performance in The Farewell was snubbed.
What’s more, the Academy’s refusal to give horror films a look in is baffling when two of the best performances by women in leading roles came from Florence Pugh (Midsommar) and especially Lupita Nyong’o (Us), the latter of whom’s extraordinary dual performance really wipes the floor with the likely winner, and the fact it’s not in the conversation at all, is just mind-boggling.
Will Win: Renée Zellweger
Should Win: Scarlett Johansson
Should have been nominated: Lupita Nyong’o for Us/ Florence Pugh for Midsommar/ Awkwafina for The Farewell
Best Actor in a Leading Role
- 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
It seems a sure bet The Academy will ensure that Joaquin Phoenix becomes the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the Joker, eleven years after Heath Ledger’s posthumous win in 2009. Despite the backlash in some quarters to the film, his performance has been widely recognised as its main strength. Though he’s got some considerable competition, most notably from Adam Driver’s heart-breaking work in Marriage Story, likewise for Antonio Banderas’s very personal performance in Pain & Glory. Jonathan Pryce’s nomination came as a mighty surprise, especially given the bemusing absence of Robert De Niro, who gave his best performance in years that was more than worthy of recognition.
In an ideal world, this would be Driver’s trophy but Phoenix will have the last laugh here.
Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix
Should Win: Adam Driver
Should have been nominated: Robert De Niro for The Irishman
Best Supporting Actress
- Kathy Bates – Richard Jewell
- Laura Dern – Marriage Story
- Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
- Florence Pugh – Little Women
- Margot Robbie – Bombshell
By far and away, one of the biggest snubs when the nominations were announced was the absence of Jennifer Lopez in this category for her stunning work in Hustlers. Given that she was nominated for pretty much every other awards show going, it was a massive surprise to see her not nominated. 2019 was the year that Florence Pugh truly made a name for herself. It’s worth reiterating that her outstanding work in Midsommar was worthy of a nomination. However, it is pleasing to see that in the year she made a name for herself, she’s duly rewarded with a well deserved Oscar nomination. Johansson had a small, but extremely effective part in Jojo Rabbit, which served as the emotional core of Taika Waititi’s film.
But like the other two acting awards, this has got Laura Dern’s name on it. To make a divorce lawyer a likeable character is quite the skill and it will ensure that she ends her long wait for Oscar gold.
Will Win: Laura Dern
Should Win: Laura Dern
Could have been nominated: Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers or Zhao Shuzhen for The Farewell
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
The fourth and final acting award of the night, and again it is looking another lock, this time for Brad Pitt’s incredible work in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. There’s definitely some dark history attached to this character, but Pitt’s charm and charisma is so effortless that along with Leo DiCaprio, he’s so much fun to watch. To see Joe Pesci come out of retirement for Martin Scorsese’s gangster masterpiece was just wonderful to behold, and alongside Al Pacino, they made an effective compelling trio of powerful performances in Scorsese’s gangster epic. Tom Hanks’s first Oscar nomination in 19 years was long overdue, and while he made for a perfect Fred Rogers, this is Pitt’s trophy to lose.
Will Win: Brad Pitt
Should Win: Al Pacino/Joe Pesci (can’t split them)
Should have been nominated: Jamie Foxx for Just Mercy or Song-Kang-ho for Parasite
- Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
- Todd Phillips – Joker
- Sam Mendes – 1917
- Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Bong Joon-ho – Parasite
Like with BAFTA and the Golden Globes, the best director category is, rather disappointingly, another all male affair. When you consider some of the films that were made by women, is extremely disappointing. The films made by these men are (mostly) great (looking at you Todd Phillips) but when you have the likes of Greta Gerwig, Marielle Heller or Lulu Wang or heck even Olivia Wilde, get shut out, it is deeply frustrating. It makes you wonder what these directors have to do to break down that barrier.
However, of the five to get nominated, by far the one that stands out the most is the work of Sam Mendes and the stunning work that is done to make 1917 such an immersive experience that puts you on the ground with these men. Bong Joon-ho is definitely a threat to Mendes due to his breath-taking work with Parasite, but a second Oscar for Mendes would be a fitting way to celebrate what is one of his finest films.
Will Win: Sam Mendes
Should Win: Sam Mendes
Should have been nominated: Greta Gerwig for Little Women or Lulu Wang for The Farewell
Best Original Screenplay
- Knives Out – Rian Johnson
- Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach
- 1917 – Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
- Parasite – Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won
Five extremely strong screenplays competing here, but given that four of the five are Best Picture nominees, Knives Out‘s chances of an upset are sadly slim to none. Given the criticisms in some quarters of 1917’s screenplay, it seems unlikely to add to its probable slew of Oscar wins in the technical categories. Noah Baumbach could yet pull off an upset to add to Marriage Story’s Supporting Actress win, but this seems to be a race between OUATIH and Parasite. Tarantino has twice won this Oscar twice before, and a hat-trick is definitely possible, but it likely won’t be the case. While Parasite is a surefire bet to win Best International Feature, this should be Bong Joon ho’s richly deserved moment in the spotlight.
Will Win: Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won for Parasite
Should Win: Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won for Parasite
Should have been nominated: Lulu Wang for The Farewell
Best Adapted Screenplay
- The Irishman – Steven Zaillian
- Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi
- Joker – Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
- Little Women – Greta Gerwig
- The Two Popes – Anthony McCarten
To have taken on an adaptation of a much beloved novel, one that has been many times over, and put your own stamp on the material, providing audiences with the definitive adaptation of said novel is a credit to Greta Gerwig. Given her snub in the director category, it would be very satisfying to see her win for only her second feature film. Furthermore, it would make her the only woman to win in this category in the 2010s, which given the lack of diversity in the directing category is indicative of the obstacles facing female writers and directors.
Yet she has some stiff competition in the form of Taika Waititi who had the extremely tricky task of adapting the novel Caging Skies for the big screen. There was an enormous risk that this could have backfired badly, and it definitely divided critics and audiences right down the middle. The divisive nature of Jojo might just help it swing back in Little Women’s favour though, but it’s very close to call.
Will Win: Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit
Should Win: Greta Gerwig for Little Women
Should have been nominated: Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Best Animated Feature Film
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Dean DeBlois, Bonnie Arnold, and Brad Lewis
- I Lost My Body – Jérémy Clapin and Marc du Pontavice
- Klaus – Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh, and Marisa Romá
- Missing Link – Chris Butler, Arianne Sutner, and Travis Knight
- Toy Story 4 – Josh Cooley, Jonas Rivera, and Mark Nielsen
One of the more unpredictable categories this year. In years gone by, the Academy has always leaned towards Disney/Pixar films, and so often they run away with it. Yet, due to the fact that Toy Story 4 isn’t as highly regarded as the 3 that came before it, that could count against it. Indeed, this year’s race has seen the majority of the prizes being split up between Klaus and Missing Link. Hence, any one of these three could end up claiming the trophy.
Will Win: Klaus
Should Win: Toy Story 4
Best International Feature Film
- Corpus Christi (Poland) – Directed by Jan Komasa
- Honeyland (North Macedonia) – Directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov
- Les Misérables (France)– Directed by Ladj Ly
- Pain and Glory (Spain) – Directed by Pedro Almodóvar
- Parasite (South Korea) – Directed by Bong Joon-ho
While France could have nominated the much beloved Portrait of a Lady on Fire, it’s hard to look past this being another hit from the Bong for Parasite.
Will Win: Parasite
Should Win: Parasite
Could have been nominated: Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France)
Best Original Score
- Joker – Hildur Guðnadóttir
- Little Women – Alexandre Desplat
- Marriage Story – Randy Newman
- 1917 – Thomas Newman
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – John Williams
This would appear to be a straight up battle between Guðnadóttir and Newman. But even 15 nominations later, and after producing a stirring, breath-taking score for 1917, there’s a substantial chance that Newman could lose out yet again. Which begs the question, what has he got to do to end his run without an Oscar?! If she wins, Guðnadóttir will become the first woman to win since the score category became one single category. While Desplat’s score for Little Women was delightful, it’s unlikely he’ll be claiming his third Oscar. The nomination for Williams does feel like a token nomination, and is more of a celebration of his work in general, given that his score for The Rise of Skywalker was, like the film itself, unremarkable. Alan Silvestri deserved a nomination for the “Portals” track alone.
Will Win: Hildur Guðnadóttir
Should Win: Thomas Newman
Could have been nominated: Alan Silvestri for Avengers: Endgame
Best Original Song
- “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4 – Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
- “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman – Music by Elton John; Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
- “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough – Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren
- “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II – Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
- “Stand Up” from Harriet – Music and Lyrics by Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo
While Rocketman definitely could have got a few more nominations (Costumes and Best Actor), the one nomination it has picked up is likely to end in triumph for the Elton John biopic. As well as her nomination for Best Actress, Cynthia Erivo’s soulful performance of “Stand Up”, probably represents its closet challenger. However, a victory for Elton would be a fitting tribute to a true legend of the music industry.
Will Win: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again Rocketman
Should Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again from Rocketman
Best Sound Editing
- Ford v Ferrari – Donald Sylvester
- Joker – Alan Robert Murray
- 1917 – Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Wylie Stateman
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Matthew Wood and David Acord
Back at the 90th Oscars, it was a case of Baby Driver going up against Dunkirk in these two sound categories. This year, it’s once again a tale of revving cars vs warfare as Ford v Ferrari goes head to head with 1917. The work of the sound team on Ford V Ferrari is extremely impressive, and a big part of the film’s success. However, every technical aspect of 1917 helps to make it such an immersive cinematic experience, and the astounding work done by the sound team should put this out of reach of all of its competitors.
Will Win: 1917
Should Win: 1917
Best Sound Mixing
- Ad Astra – Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano
- Ford v Ferrari – Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Steven A. Morrow
- Joker – Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic and Tod Maitland
- 1917 – Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler, and Mark Ulano
Likewise for the Sound Editing, this one should be going the way of 1917 as war films tend to do well in the sound categories, though again Ford V Ferrari represents its biggest competitor.
Will Win: 1917
Should Win: 1917
Should have been nominated:
Best Production Design
- The Irishman – Production Design: Bob Shaw; Set Decoration: Regina Graves
- Jojo Rabbit – Production Design: Ra Vincent; Set Decoration: Nora Sopková
- 1917 – Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
- Parasite – Production Design: Lee Ha-jun; Set Decoration: Cho Won-woo
Another category that feels very open given that all these nominees are in the Best Picture race. However, given that 1917 and Parasite are the front runners in that particular race, it’s looking like to be another battle between these two. Both the lavish home of the Park family, and the squalid dwellings of the Kim family were constructed from scratch. Yet the work done to eerily recreate the horrors of WWI trenches, No Man’s Land and a town that’s been battered by warfare, stand just a fraction above in my opinion. Though, given that the Academy so often likes films about Hollywood, don’t rule Once Upon a Time in Hollywood out of this.
Will Win: 1917
Should Win: 1917
Could have been nominated:
- The Irishman – Rodrigo Prieto
- Joker – Lawrence Sher
- The Lighthouse – Jarin Blaschke
- 1917 – Roger Deakins
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Robert Richardson
Roger Deakins produced further evidence of his unrivalled mastery as a cinematographer with his scintillating work in 1917. As well as making that one shot element of the film work so well, some of the shots especially the ones at night were just absolute feasts for the eyes. After FINALLY winning that first Oscar for Blade Runner 2049, Deakins will be claiming that second Oscar, a fitting recognition for one of the best ever cinematographers.
Will Win: Roger Deakins
Should Win: Roger Deakins
Should have been nominated: Pawel Pogorzelski for Midsommar
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- Bombshell – Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan, and Vivian Baker
- Joker – Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
- Judy – Jeremy Woodhead
- Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten, and David White
- 1917 – Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, and Rebecca Cole
Two years ago, Kazu Hiro won this award for his work in transforming Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill. This time around, he and his fellow makeup artists work their magic to turn Charlize Theron and John Lithgow into Megyn Kelly and Roger Ailes respectively, and once again the work is extraordinary that should ensure another Oscar comes his way. With its likely wins in Best Actor and Best Original Score, Joker represents Bombshell’s biggest threat.
Will Win: Bombshell
Should Win: Bombshell
Best Costume Design
- The Irishman – Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
- Jojo Rabbit – Mayes C. Rubeo
- Joker – Mark Bridges
- Little Women – Jacqueline Durran
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Arianne Phillips
Of the six nominations it received, this category unfortunately probably represents Little Women’s best chances of success, and while period pieces usually do well here,it’s by no means a given that it will win (see last year with Black Panther triumphing over The Favourite.) Furthermore, both Sandy Powell and Mark Bridges have already won multiple awards in this category, but hopefully the power of those lavish 19th century frocks will propel Jacqueline Durran and, Little Women, to victory.
Will Win: Little Women
Should Win: Little Women
Best Film Editing
- Ford v Ferrari – Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker
- The Irishman – Thelma Schoonmaker
- Jojo Rabbit – Tom Eagles
- Joker – Jeff Groth
- Parasite – Yang Jin-mo
To have made a three and a half hour film feel so well paced that it rarely drags is a testament to Thelma Schoonmaker’s talents as an editor. Through her collaboration with Scorsese, she has bagged three Oscars and with The Irishman, it should bag her another Oscar. Yet it likely won’t, further raising the very real possibility of The Irishman walking away empty handed. As Russell Bufalino would say “It is what it is.”
The brilliant way that the two opposite strands of the sharp and witty story in Parasite come together is a testament to the marvellous editing by Yang Jin-mo, that should be rewarded with the trophy. But it would be dangerous to write off Ford v Ferrari as the editing helps ensure those racing scenes are as well realised as they are. Given that editing for Jojo Rabbit and Joker was fairly unremarkable, Lee Smith’s role in helping the continuous tracking shot element of 1917 has been unfairly overlooked.
Will Win: Yang Jin-mo
Should Win: Thelma Schoonmaker
Should have been nominated: Lee Smith for 1917
Best Visual Effects
- Avengers: Endgame – Dan DeLeeuw, Matt Aitken, Russell Earl, and Dan Sudick
- The Irishman – Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Stephane Grabli, and Nelson Sepulveda
- The Lion King – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Elliot Newman
- 1917 – Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, and Dominic Tuohy
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, and Dominic Tuohy
Last year, Black Panther grabbed the MCU its first three Oscars, but incredibly the record-breaking franchise has never won an Oscar for visual effects. Now would be the time for the Academy to recognise the extraordinary work of these artists whose work has been such an integral part of the MCU. The Irishman, and its use of the de-aging technology generated plenty of chatter, but not all of it was positive. While it would be ironic it would be if a Scorsese film beats a Marvel film to an Oscar, further disappointment for the MCU’s visual effects artists, and Scorsese are probably afoot, because the technical mastery of 1917 should ensure it is triumphant.
Will Win: 1917
Should Win: Avengers: Endgame
Should have been nominated: Captain Marvel
And, last and certainly by no means least….
- Ford v Ferrari – Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, and James Mangold
- The Irishman – Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
- Jojo Rabbit – Carthew Neal and Taika Waititi
- Joker – Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
- Little Women – Amy Pascal
- Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach and David Heyman
- 1917 – Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren, and Callum McDougal
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, and Quentin Tarantino
- Parasite – Kwak Sin-ae and Bong Joon-ho
Click here to see my ranking of the Best Picture contenders.
Unlike last year, that had a slew of films that felt undeserving of the Best Picture nominations (one of which ended up winning), the overwhelming majority of the films here are very much deserving of their place at this table. While, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood seemed to be the odds on favourite at one point to take home the big prize, it has since lost momentum. This has enabled latecomer 1917 to storm into the lead, with Parasite not too far behind. These two have been battling out for the top prizes and so it’s likely that one of these two films will take home the big prize.
Should Parasite emerge triumphant, it will become the first foreign language feature to win Best Picture, which would be a hugely significant accomplishment. In my eyes, as these are my two favourite films of this entire awards season, a win for either of these two masterpieces would be more than well deserved. That being said, I’m hoping for a 1917 victory, but should Parasite take home the trophy, there will be no complaints from me, as to paraphrase Al Pacino in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, “What a pair of pictures!”
Will Win: 1917
Should Win: 1917
Should have been nominated: Knives Out
- 1917 – 7
- Parasite – 3
- Joker – 2
- Bombshell – 1
- Jojo Rabbit – 1
- Judy – 1
- Little Women – 1
- Klaus –1
- Marriage Story – 1
- Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 1
- Rocketman – 1
- 1917 – 7
- Marriage Story – 3
- Parasite – 3
- Little Women – 2
- Avengers: Endgame – 1
- Bombshell – 1
- The Irishman – 1
- Rocketman – 1
- Toy Story – 1