I really enjoyed doing this for the last two years, so it’s happening again! It has become a tradition of mine. The 92nd Academy Awards ceremony was only just held a few days ago, and I’ve only seen, like, a handful of films from 2020 at this point. I think I have a pretty good idea of what is coming out this year, though. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
Okay, so, just like last year, I have to preface these predictions by saying that I won’t present nomination predictions for each and every award. For obvious reasons, neither the short film-categories, the documentary feature-category, nor the foreign-language film category will be put under the spotlight in this post.
On top of this, I won’t try to predict the below-the-line categories in this post. Sorry folks, this post is all about predicting the nominations for the above-the-line film categories, which means that many of the technical awards won’t be discussed here. Also, I’m just going to assume that the Best Popular Film-category will not somehow happen this year. It was unpopular when they announced it, and its indefinite delay was celebrated by Oscar pundits and fans alike.
Best Animated Feature Film
- Soul, Disney / Pixar.
- Onward, Disney / Pixar.
- Wendell & Wild, Netflix.
- Raya and the Last Dragon, Disney.
- Scoob!, Warner Animation Group.
This is a category where I really hope Netflix or foreign animation studios have some great films up their sleeves. If they don’t, then it looks like this year in animation will be dominated by Disney. In 2019, there were a lot of sequels, but it looks like 2020 (at least in animation) will be defined by original films. Soul is Pete Docter’s latest, so I have high hopes. Onward also looks like a cute but sad hit from Disney-Pixar. I do have one Netflix film here, though. Wendell & Wild is supposedly a stop-motion animated horror-comedy from Henry Selick and Key & Peele. If that doesn’t get you interested, then I don’t know what will.
Next in line: Minions: The Rise of Gru (Illumination); Trolls World Tour (DreamWorks Animation); The Croods 2 (DreamWorks Animation).
Do note: If Guillermo Del Toro and Mark Gustafson’s stop-motion Pinocchio-adaptation somehow gets a 2020 release date, then it would become my new #1 prediction in this category.
Best Adapted Screenplay
- I’m Thinking of Ending Things, written by Charlie Kaufman.
- Hillbilly Elegy, written by Vanessa Taylor.
- Blonde, written by Andrew Dominik.
- Dune, written by Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts, and Denis Villeneuve.
- West Side Story, written by Tony Kushner.
When it comes to this category, I have complete faith in Charlie Kaufman. The Academy has previously shown a lot of love for the Oscar-winner’s writing, and I’m Thinking of Ending Things could very well be his next win. It sounds like a mind-bending and sometimes frightening film, and I can’t wait to see it.
Hillbilly Elegy is based on J. D. Vance’s memoir about the American Dream and multiple generations of an American family. It sounds like a really ambitious project, to me, and if writer Vanessa Taylor and director Ron Howard succeeded in making it work on the big screen, then it could be a major contender in this category. Blonde, a film about the life of Marilyn Monroe, also feels like a contender for the win here. I can’t wait to see what Andrew Dominik has done with her life story.
I think Dune is going to be amazing. Though it is a science-fiction story, I think it is going to be a huge awards season player in Star Wars‘ December-release spot. The cast and crew are outstanding, and I, frankly, just have a lot of faith in Villlenueve after Blade Runner 2049. I think he can successfully adapt even the supposedly unadaptable sci-fi classics.
I’m not completely confident that the West Side Story remake is going to be a hit. I think it is a shoo-in for several nominations, but I also just don’t think it will be a true contender for many wins. Then again, it is a Tony Kushner script, and Spielberg is the director, so maybe I should be confident.
Next in line: Next Goal Wins (Searchlight Pictures); The Father (Sony Pictures Classics); The Last Duel (20th Century Studios).
Best Original Screenplay
- MANK, written by Jack Fincher.
- The French Dispatch, written by Wes Anderson.
- Tenet, written by Christopher Nolan.
- The Trial of the Chicago 7, written by Aaron Sorkin.
- Promising Young Woman, written by Emerald Fennell.
I think Mank, in spite of the title which should probably be changed, is one of the obvious frontrunners. This is a film about the creative process behind Citizen Kane, it is a film from David Fincher, and the script, mind you, was written by Fincher’s late father. The narrative behind this film is outstanding. On top of that, this is a Netflix film, and, as we’ve seen in recent years, Netflix does a really good job of fighting for its biggest films during awards season.
Wes Anderson has earned three Best Original Screenplay-nominations, and The French Dispatch, supposedly a love letter to journalism, could be just the whimsical auteur-driven film that earns him a win. I have massive expectations for this film. Though Christopher Nolan, like Anderson, has never won an Oscar, he has been nominated for two Original Screenplay-Oscars (notably for his two most mindbending films: Memento & Inception). So if his next big mind-bending blockbuster is as great as the rest of his filmography, then he should be among the frontrunners for this category.
When Aaron Sorkin makes a new film, then you pay attention in the writers’ branch. The Trial of the Chicago 7 sounds very interesting, and I think Sorkin is almost always a contender for a nomination. If Promising Young Woman gets the support that it needs throughout the year (more on this later), then I think Emerald Fennell’s film could be a contender this year. It sounds like the kind of biting screenplay that could stick in critics’ minds throughout the year.
Next in line: Annette (Amazon Studios); Fonzo (TBA); Da 5 Bloods (Netflix); On the Rocks (A24/Apple TV+); Ammonite (Lionsgate); Minari (A24); Nine Days (TBA).
Best Supporting Actor
- Adam Driver, Annette.
- Sascha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7.
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Trial of the Chicago 7.
- Timothee Chalamet, The French Dispatch.
- Steven Yeun, Minari.
Annette is a musical from Leos Carax about a family of entertainers. Adam Driver plays a stand-up comedian and the husband of Marion Cotillard’s character, who I presume is the titular character (on multiple sites her character is referred to as ‘Ann’). I’m making the assumption that Adam Driver will campaign as a supporting character here. I have complete faith in Driver’s ability to act (he is arguably the best actor of his generation), and I’m intrigued to hear him sing more (since we got a sneak peek of his ability in Marriage Story). I think this could be Adam Driver’s year.
When I started researching for this article, I finally found out what exactly the Chicago Seven (or Eight) references. Some of the stories that I have read about the trial are, honestly, shocking, and I think both Cohen and Abdul-Mateen II could have some very powerful and unforgettable scenes. So I just had to place them both here, even if one of them probably could be campaigned in a different category.
First things first, throughout this article, I am going to be making educated guesses about The French Dispatch and the size of each actor’s role. These are merely assumptions, of course, so take them with a grain of salt. But if Chalamet’s role is as big as I suspect it to be, then he seems like a shoo-in for a nomination.
Finally, I’ve put Steven Yeun on the list based on two things. First, I read great things about Minari from those who attended the Sundance Festival, and, finally, I thought he was Oscar-worthy in Burning, so I have faith in his ability as an awards-worthy actor.
Next in line: Chadwick Boseman (Da 5 Bloods); Bill Murray (On the Rocks); Oscar Isaac (Dune).
Best Supporting Actress
- Saoirse Ronan, Ammonite.
- Toni Collette, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
- Olivia Colman, The Father.
- Amy Adams, Hillbilly Elegy.
- Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy.
Saoirse Ronan has become a true Oscar-darling over the years. She has so many nominations already, and I think she will get to accept a golden statuette sooner rather than later. Maybe the next awards season will be hers. Based on everything I know about it, Ammonite seems like a film that could give her the push she needs to become an Oscar frontrunner. Secondly, though I haven’t read the original novel, I think Collette could earn her second nomination for Kaufman’s adaptation of I’m Thinking of Ending Things. The story sounds incredible, and I have a lot of faith in her as an actor.
Olivia Colman is, of course, now an Oscar-winner (and deservedly so). Her next big Oscar contender could be The Father, in which she’ll play the daughter of Anthony Hopkins’ character. This seems like a film that could be quite the tearjerker, and maybe, just maybe, it will take her back to the Oscars.
I’ve put both Glenn Close and Amy Adams in this category because I am, frankly, not sure which of them has a bigger role. I don’t know the source material, and I’m not sure if they are both supporting performances, but I’ve placed both of them on this list simply because I think Hillbilly Elegy will be one of Netflix’s frontrunners in the upcoming awards season.
Next in line: Amanda Seyfried (MANK); Zendaya (Dune); Rebecca Ferguson (Dune); Tilda Swinton / Lea Seydoux (The French Dispatch); Alicia Vikander (The Glorias).
- Gary Oldman, MANK.
- Tom Hardy, Fonzo.
- Benicio Del Toro, The French Dispatch.
- John David Washington, Tenet.
- Ansel Elgort, West Side Story.
Gary Oldman is already an Oscar-winner, and I think he could earn another little golden statuette next year. MANK sounds like a big Oscar-player, and Oldman is a great actor. I think that Tom Hardy could be Oldman’s first and fiercest opponent in the fight for the statuette, though. I thought Fonzo would be released last year, but, apparently, it was pushed to 2020. Again, I think that Al Capone could be the role that earns Hardy an Oscar. Then if Del Toro is the lead in Wes Anderson’s latest film, which I think could be the nomination leader, then I think he will earn a nomination as a possible frontrunner here.
Tenet may be a little bit too mind-bendy to be the Oscar contender that I want it to be, but I’m holding onto hope. Therefore I’ve put John David Washington on this list. The clip that was released in IMAX theaters in December was terrific, but, if I remember correctly, it didn’t give us a great look at Washington’s performance. Finally, I have placed Ansel Elgort at #5. Again, I’m not completely confident that this film is going to be successful, and he could possibly be knocked out by the actors next in line. If Spielberg’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara is also released this year, then it could conceivably knock out Elgort.
Next in line: Jessie Plemons (I’m Thinking of Ending Things); Michael Fassbender (Next Goal Wins); Matt Damon (Stillwater); Anthony Hopkins (The Father); Michael Keaton (Worth); Benedict Cumberbatch (Ironbark); Winston Duke (Nine Days)
- Ana de Armas, Blonde.
- Jessie Buckley, I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
- Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman.
- Marion Cotillard, Annette.
- Kate Winslet, Ammonite.
Ana de Armas, who first caught the eye of most cineastes in Blade Runner 2049, had a true breakthrough year in 2019 with Knives Out. In 2020, Ana de Armas is playing Marilyn Monroe, which, to me, just sounds like a great casting choice, as well as the ideal role to nominate an actress for an Oscar for. If it isn’t her year, then I think this could be Jessie Buckley’s year. I think her film is going to be a huge awards season hit for Netflix, and I think she is definitely on her way to an Oscar-nomination.
Promising Young Woman comes out already in April, and it could potentially be treated as a genre film, which makes me fear for its chances at the Oscars. But I think that many film critics and their regional associations could champion Carey Mulligan’s performance, and maybe, just maybe, that could be enough to earn Mulligan her second Oscar-nomination. Finally, I’ve put two Oscar-winners at #4 and #5. The Academy clearly likes them, so they have a head-start, I suppose. If Annette is as good as I hope it is, then Cotillard could easily become the clear and obvious frontrunner.
Next in line: Julianne Moore (The Glorias); Frances McDormand/Tilda Swinton (The French Dispatch); Rashida Jones (On the Rocks); Elisabeth Moss (Shirley); Kristen Stewart / Mackenzie Davis (Happiest Season); Rebecca Hall (The Night House)
- David Fincher, MANK.
- Christopher Nolan, Tenet.
- Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch.
- Denis Villeneuve, Dune.
- Charlie Kaufmann, I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Yeah, I know. Based on my predictions, it looks like the Academy will choose five male directors yet again. That is disappointing, but it would be classic Academy behavior. I think numbers 1 through 3 are already frontrunners for this category, with the last two spots being up for grabs. We’ll see.
Next in line: Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7); Leos Carax (Annette); Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods); Steven Spielberg (West Side Story); Andrew Dominik (Blonde); Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman); Taika Waititi (Next Goal Wins); Lee Isaac Chung (Minari)
- MANK, dir. David Fincher, Netflix
- The French Dispatch, dir. Wes Anderson, Searchlight Pictures
- Tenet, dir. Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros. Pictures
- I’m Thinking of Ending Things, dir. Charlie Kaufmann, Netflix
- The Trial of the Chicago 7, dir. Aaron Sorkin, Paramount Pictures
- Annette, dir. Leos Carax, Amazon Studios
- Dune, dir. Denis Villeneuve, Warner Bros. Pictures
- Fonzo, dir. Josh Trank, TBA
- West Side Story, dir. Steven Spielberg, 20th Century Studios
- Blonde, dir. Andrew Dominik, Netflix
Next in line:
- Minari, dir. Lee Isaac Chung, A24
- Hillbilly Elegy, dir. Ron Howard, Netflix
- Promising Young Woman, dir. Emerald Fennell, Focus Features
- Da 5 Bloods, dir. Spike Lee, Netflix
- Next Goal Wins, dir. Taika Waititi, Searchlight Pictures
- Stillwater, dir. Tom McCarthy, Focus Features
- The Father, dir. Florian Zeller, Sony Pictures Classics
- Ammonite, dir. Francis Lee, NEON
By the looks of things, Netflix will have another dominant year when it comes to the total number of nominations. This past awards season, we saw how little that can mean in the end, but with MANK, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, and Blonde (not to mention the other films that are ‘next in line’) it looks like Netflix could have a really good year. I worry for Amazon Studios, though. I fear that Annette, which I am very excited about, could end up like Marriage Story and only, in the end, be a true contender for one category. We’ll have to see. It’ll also be interesting to see if films like Tenet and Dune can become the darlings of the awards that I want them to be. I can’t wait to find out what happens!
Do note: If Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley-remake or Joel Coen’s adaptation of Macbeth are given 2020 release dates, then they could naturally become contenders in several categories.
Because of how early I make this list of predictions, I don’t have a lot of information about Oscar-caliber films to be released at the end of the year. When I made this list, I looked at release schedules, internet film databases, and whatnot. I, basically, removed most broad comedy and horror films, and I looked at what I was left with on the various release schedules. Obviously, a foreign film could end up shocking the world like Parasite did, and I’d be really happy to see a foreign film become a major contender again this next year. Thanks for reading.
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.