It is finally that time of the year again, folks! The nominations for the Academy Awards will be released on Monday (January 13th, 2020). Just in time, I am ready with my final predictions for this awards season’s Oscars nominations. Below I have tried to predict every category except for the short film categories, as I simply haven’t seen enough short films from 2019. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
The films or performers are listed from most to least likely to be nominated, but not necessarily most to least likely to win the Oscar.
Heading into the final part of Oscars season, the first four films in my Best Picture predictions feel like the strongest candidates. I think all four of those films are either near-masterpieces or flat-out, true masterpieces. Thankfully, I think the Academy is ready to celebrate them and shower them with nominations. I also think we’ll look back on those four films fondly many years from now. Joker, no. 5, is a different story. While I ultimately like the film quite a bit, I think it is absurd that a film as derivative as Todd Phillips’ Joker is probably on its way to an excellent nomination morning. It’s a great imitation of Scorsese films, but it is still just an imitation.
But I digress. Marriage Story seems to be losing steam at exactly the wrong time. That said, I think it is definitely on its way to a Best Picture-nomination. It is one of the best films of the year, with great writing and equally great performances. Numbers 7 through 10 could’ve looked a couple of different ways. Some may have added The Farewell and taken out Knives Out, while others may have placed Jojo Rabbit above Little Women. However, I think most people would agree that Ford v Ferrari is going to be no. 8 or 9. It is a very popular film that I think will ultimately have more passion behind it than Knives Out.
In the end, though, it may not matter what films are at numbers 9 or 10. As you may know, Best Picture is the only category at the Academy Awards that can have up to ten nominated films. However, they don’t just choose a number. To become a Best Picture-nominated film, a film must have at least 5% of first-place votes or 5% following a thorough redistribution of select votes (e.g. a surplus redistribution, if need be). It is a complex process. Since this rule-change went into effect, no year has had more than nine nominated films. We usually end up with either eight or nine nominated films, and I think that, just like last year, we will only have eight Best Picture-nominated films.
- Bong Joon-ho — Parasite
- Quentin Tarantino — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Sam Mendes — 1917
- Martin Scorsese — The Irishman
- Greta Gerwig — Little Women
It seems like Bong, Tarantino, and Mendes are all, thankfully, safe. Although he is in my predicted top five, I fear for Scorsese, who truly does deserve to be nominated for his latest masterpiece. Finally, call me crazy, but I think the Academy may have learned from their past mistakes when it comes to Best Director. I think Gerwig is nominated here this year. Could it be? Could the Academy actually sidestep and avoid the Best Director-controversy that has already hit the British Academy? I think so. If one of the above directors misses out on a nomination, then the next director in line will probably be Todd Phillips (Joker), even though there are many people, including myself, who thinks that would be a mistake. I think directors like James Mangold, Noah Baumbach or Pedro Almodóvar deserve to be nominated much more than Phillips does.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
- Joaquin Phoenix — Joker
- Adam Driver — Marriage Story
- Leonardo DiCaprio — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Taron Egerton — Rocketman
- Christian Bale — Ford v Ferrari
What to do? What to do? To be perfectly honest, I think this is the toughest category to predict. Realistically, both Phoenix and Driver are safe. Phoenix is probably going to win, even though I think Driver’s performance is my personal favorite. Leonardo DiCaprio will probably get a nomination as his film still seems very popular. I just don’t think he will miss out on a nomination.
Then, in fourth, I’m predicting that Taron Egerton gets a nomination. Look, Egerton won at the Globes, and he was nominated at both the SAG Awards and the BAFTAs, but I think an exceptional charm offensive probably helped him seal the deal at the Globes, while his BAFTA nomination may have more to do with his nationality than anything else. This is all merely speculation, so I may be completely wrong, of course. Nevertheless, I’m sticking with Egerton because he doesn’t just have the awards season stats to back-up a potential nomination, he also gave a genuinely great performance in Rocketman.
I had a really difficult time picking an actor in that fifth spot. I think Robert De Niro deserves to be nominated, but I also think that a lot of people had a tough time with The Irishman. I also think a lot of people disliked the use of visual effects to make him seem younger. I think he deserves a nomination, but, unfortunately, I just don’t think they’ll give him one this year. I think it will ultimately come down to Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) and Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), in which case I think Bale has a better chance to get a nomination.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
- Renée Zellweger — Judy
- Scarlett Johansson — Marriage Story
- Charlize Theron — Bombshell
- Saoirse Ronan — Little Women
- Awkwafina — The Farewell
Oh, how I wish Lupita Nyong’o was the clear and obvious frontrunner this year. Her performance(s) in Us is iconic. I think she is the next actress in line for a nomination, but it could also be Cynthia Erivo (Harriet). I’m still confused about the ‘fact’ that Zellweger has become an awards season frontrunner. She is good in Judy, but I definitely do not think she gave the best female leading performance of the year.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Brad Pitt — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
- Joe Pesci — The Irishman
- Tom Hanks — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
- Song Kang-ho — Parasite
- Al Pacino — The Irishman
Though no individual nomination was given to Parasite by the Screen Actors Guild, they did nominate the entire ensemble cast, which is why I think Song Kang-ho will somehow become an Oscar-nominated actor on the nomination morning. Other than that, I am specifically interested in seeing if both Pesci (The Irishman) and Pacino (The Irishman) can get in. I think they both will. If one of the above actors misses out on a nomination, then the next actor in line will probably be Sir Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Laura Dern — Marriage Story
- Margot Robbie — Bombshell
- Florence Pugh — Little Women
- Jennifer Lopez — Hustlers
- Scarlett Johansson — Jojo Rabbit
The Screen Actors Guild seemingly loved Bombshell, which I haven’t seen yet, so I think at least one of its two supporting stars will be nominated alongside the clear and obvious frontrunner, Laura Dern (Marriage Story). Jennifer Lopez’s Oscar hopes seem to be fading, but I think she’ll be nominated in the end. If one of the above actresses misses out on a nomination, then the next actress in line will probably be Nicole Kidman (Bombshell) or Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell).
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Maybe I’m being too optimistic. But I think the writers’ branch might actually have enough love in their hearts for both Parasite and Knives Out for them to be nominated. They both absolutely do deserve to be nominated, but one of the films is foreign and the other film maybe doesn’t feel like a traditional awards season film, even though it’s better than some other films that may ultimately win Oscars. I’m not too sure about this category. Only the first two films seem safe to me. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be 1917, even though I don’t think the film’s writing is necessarily particularly noteworthy.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Although I think it definitely does not deserve to be among the films in contention for a win in this category, it appears that a sizable chunk of the industry has a love for Joker, and I think that love will carry it to a nomination here as well. Other than that fifth spot, I think this is a fairly easy category to predict, but I may be wrong. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, but I would love it if Hustlers was nominated here.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM
I really wish Denmark’s Cold Case Hammarskjöld would’ve had a chance in this category. It is a thrilling must-watch documentary that I highly recommend. But, if it ends up like I think it will, I want one of the films in my top two to win. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be The Cave.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
This is a category that Parasite just has to win. I think it’s one of the best films from the 2010s. It is a masterpiece. All I really have to say about this category is that I wish Denmark’s selection would’ve made it to the shortlist, at the very least. Queen of Hearts is a really good film. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be Those Who Remained.
This absolutely should be another Oscar for Roger Deakins (1917), but we do need five nominated films to start off with. These five films are exceptional choices, even though I wish Ad Astra had a realistic chance to get a deserved nomination. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be The Lighthouse.
BEST FILM EDITING
Always bet on Thelma Schoonmaker (The Irishman). In this category, I worry about two things. For one, I’m worried that the fact that Parasite is a foreign film will make it less likely to land nominations in categories like this one. Parasite is probably the film of the year, so it would be awful if it wasn’t nominated here. The second thing that is on my mind in this category is that 1917 is being marketed as a one continuous shot-film, even though there are many hidden cuts (and even though it really is designed to be two continuous shots). I think that its reputation as a one-shot film might actually hurt its chances in this category. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be Joker.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Rocketman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood have some of my favorite costumes in films from 2019. They have to be nominated here. Dolemite Is My Name also has some really, really memorable outfits, and I think it would be a shame if it wasn’t nominated here. Frankly, if Joker is nominated, which I think it could be, then that would be just silly. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be either Aladdin or… Joker.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
The outstanding Avengers: Endgame will not become the huge Oscar hit that some people might want it to be, but it should be the frontrunner for this category alongside the frustrating The Lion King-remake. The Irishman and 1917 are the two potential Best Picture nominated films with a chance in this category, and, in my mind, they both deserve to be nominated. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be either Terminator: Dark Fate or Alita: Battle Angel.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Apologies if I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but this is another category where I just have a tough time admitting to myself that Joker is probably getting nominated. I think the top four in my predictions are all outstanding choices in this category, and I’d be happy with any of them winning here. But if one of the above films misses, then the next film in line could be Little Women.
BEST SOUND MIXING
In both the Sound Mixing and the Sound Editing categories, I think Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a potential contender, but I also think that the middling critical reception has hurt its chances, which is exactly why I haven’t predicted it to be nominated in either category. But if one of the above films misses, then the next film in line could be The Rise of Skywalker.
BEST SOUND EDITING
Recently, it did come out that the Academy was considering turning these two sound categories into one sound category. Now, I think that would be a shame. In my mind, I’d like to see more Oscar categories, not fewer. But if the two sound categories have the exact same nominated films this year, then that will probably mean we will only have one category going forward. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line could be The Rise of Skywalker.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
I think there is a good chance that “Speechless,” from Aladdin could miss out on a nomination here, but I actually prefer it to the other Disney songs in contention here. The Rocketman-song is also one of my personal favorites in this category. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be Wild Rose.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
I think the top three films in this category all have tremendous original scores. The Newman cousins — Randy and Thomas — made my favorite scores of the year, but the Joker score is quite good as well. I think John Williams has a good chance of getting nominated this year since it is his final Star Wars score, but he could miss out on a nomination. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be Ford v Ferrari.
BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING
So, first things first, I was really happy to see that the Academy changed the rules for the category so that it allows for a total of five nominated films now. I can’t believe it has taken this long, but, at least, they’ve finally fixed the category. There is one thing about this category that does upset me, though. Why the hell is Joker one of the reported frontrunners for the category? Again, I think it’s a good film. I like it more than most critics do, but it is still getting way too much credit (based on the BAFTA nominations). I just don’t see why you would nominate Joker for its make-up when it’s basically just the main character’s facepaint that is noteworthy. I am predicting it to be nominated, but I don’t think it should be. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be either Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or 1917.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Last, but certainly not least, we have the animated feature film category. I don’t think that it has been a particularly great year for animated feature films, but, then again, I haven’t actually seen Frozen II or Missing Link. I do love Toy Story 4, though, and I’m rooting for that film and How to Train Your Dragon in this category. If one of the above films misses, then the next film in line will probably be either The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part or Netflix’s Klaus.
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.