My Predictions For The 92nd Academy Awards (AWARDS 2019)

Here are my predictions for who will win at The 92nd Annual Academy Awards, along with my “Who Should Win” preferences.

I also provide my thinking behind each prediction, while also offering what I think are the other strong contenders in each category (if there are any).

The ceremony will take place on Sunday night February 9, 2020, at 8pm EST / 7pm CST. Hosted by no one, it will air on ABC.

My Predictions for Who Will Win
THE 92nd ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

BEST PICTURE
Who Will Win: 1917
Who Should Win: The Irishman

This looks like a two-horse race between 1917 and Parasite, and arguments could be made for both given the distribution that the industry awards have given them, but with a Parasite win in the International Film category, it’s hard to see it winning here, too (especially since no Foreign film has ever won Oscar’s top prize). The war film is the safe bet, and the Academy will go safe here.

Nominees:
Ford v Ferrari 
The Irishman 
Jojo Rabbit 
Joker
– Little Women
Marriage Story
1917
Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
Parasite

BEST DIRECTOR
Who Will Win: Sam Mendes, 1917
Who Should Win: Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Mendes won the Director’s Guild award, which makes him the safest bet of the night. If he wins, he’ll have done so exactly 20 years after having won Director and Picture for American Beauty. Bong Joon-ho may pull off an upset here but it’d legitimately surprise me. Parasite has a better chance at Picture than Bong does as Director. I’m still shocked that Tarantino doesn’t have a chance here or in Picture, two categories that he’s never won (he has two Screenplay Oscars). If a love letter to Hollywood that everyone admires can’t get him Oscars for Director and Picture, then nothing ever will.

Nominees:
– Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
– Todd Phillips, Joker
– Sam Mendes, 1917
– Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
– Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

BEST ACTOR
Who Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Who Should Win: Adam Driver,Marriage Story

Phoenix has won every major industry pre-cursor award. He’s a lock here. (Get ready for this reasoning to repeat itself…)

Nominees:
– 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

BEST ACTRESS
Who Will Win: Renée Zellweger, Judy
Who Should Win: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

Zellweger has won every major industry pre-cursor award. She’s a lock here.

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who Will Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
Who Should Win: Al Pacino, The Irishman

Pitt has won every major industry pre-cursor award. He’s a lock here.

Nominees:
– Tom Hanks, 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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who Will Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Who Should Win: Florence Pugh, Little Women

Dern has won every major industry pre-cursor award. She’s a lock here.

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Who Will Win: Parasite, Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin Won
Who Should Win: Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach

In terms of quality, this is one of the most competitive categories (only 1917 comes up short by comparison). The race is between Tarantino and Bong, and I think Bong gets his individual Oscar here since he won’t as Director.

Nominees:
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

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Who Will Win: Little Women, Greta Gerwig
Who Should Win: Little Women, Greta Gerwig (I’d be game for The Irishman, too.)

I’m going out on a limb with this prediction. The pre-cursor awards suggest that Jojo Rabbit has this in the bag, but I’m banking on Gerwig being admired enough (especially following her previously multi-nominated Lady Bird) that the industry will want to give her an Oscar here while also being able say that they honor women, too. A voter for Gerwig will be as much about saving face against the criticisms of mostly-white (and male) nominees as it will be the work.

Nominees:
The IrishmanSteven Zaillian
Jojo RabbitTaika Waititi
JokerTodd Phillips & Scott Silver
Little Women, Greta Gerwig
The Two PopesAnthony McCarten

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Who Will Win: Klaus
Who Should Win: I Lost My Body

Netflix’s Santa Claus origin story Klaus cleaned up at the industry’s various animation awards, so it’s likely to see its streak capped here. It’d also be a welcome honor to 2D animation, a style that has been all-but abandoned in feature filmmaking.

Nominees:
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
– I Lost My Body
– Klaus
– Missing Link
Toy Story 4

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Who Will Win: Parasite (South Korea)
Who Should Win: Parasite (South Korea)

There’s some good films here, but it’s still no contest. Parasite winning here is one of the locks of the night.

Nominees:
– Corpus Christi (Poland)
– Honeyland
(North Macedonia)
– Les Misérables
(France)
– Pain and Glory
(Spain)
Parasite
 (South Korea)

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Who Will Win: American Factory
Who Should Win: The Cave

This is a tough one. I was originally betting on The Edge of Democracy because of its examination of right-wing politics in Brazil and how that’s intended to be a warning about the same in the United States. That kind of thing would be difficult for liberal Oscar voters to resist. But ultimately, so much is riding on one simple factor: how many of these films did Oscar voters actually see? If it comes down to that, and it likely will, then the Netflix/Obama joint American Factory would come out on top. (FWIW, For Sama won at the BAFTAs, which is the British equivalent of the Academy Awards, and there’s a lot of membership crossover between those two academies.)

Nominees:
American Factory
– The Cave
– The Edge of Democracy
– For Sama

– Honeyland

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Who Will Win: JokerHildur Guðnadóttir
Who Should Win: JokerHildur Guðnadóttir

I’m no fan of Joker, but many of its tech credits are first-rate, perhaps especially Hildur Guðnadóttir’s eerie score. Thomas Newman, an industry legend, has never won despite 15 nominations so he could upset here with 1917 if enough voters believe he’s overdue, but the industry awards have all been going to Guðnadóttir. Have to believe this one will, too.

Nominees:
JokerHildur Guðnadóttir
Little WomenAlexandre Desplat
Marriage StoryRandy Newman
1917Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Who Will Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” – Rocketman
Who Should Win: “Into the Unknown” – Frozen II

Elton John may have secured a win here when, during his Golden Globes acceptance speech, he said that he and his longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin had never won an award together until that Globe win. After hearing that, Oscar voters will probably want to give them one, too.

Nominees:
– “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 II
– “Stand Up” – Harriet

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Who Will Win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Who Should Win: In the Absence

Strong contenders here up and down the category, but Learning to Skateboard has that perfect blend of addressing an important issue (the education of young girls under Sharia Law) while also offering hope and inspiration.

Nominees:
(read my review of all five nominees here)
– In the Absence
– Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
– Life Overtakes Me
– St. Louis Superman

– Walk Run Cha-Cha

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT SUBJECT
Who Will Win: Saria
Who Should Win: Saria

Another batch of mostly strong contenders, of which I think Saria is the best (which dramatizes a real-life tragedy involving teenage girl orphans in Guatemala), but the worst entry is probably its stiffest competition. The Neighbors’ Window is the lone English language entry, which may be enough to secure Oscar gold, but it’s also the most blatantly manipulative, and that can be catnip for Academy members.

Nominees:
(read my review of all five nominees here)
– Brotherhood
– Nefta Football Club

– The Neighbors’ Window
– Saria

– A Sister

BEST ANIMATED SHORT SUBJECT
Who Will Win: Hair Love
Who Should Win: Dcera (Daughter)

Hair Love hits a real sweet spot, as it is effectively sentimental while also giving Oscar voters an opportunity to recognize an African-American filmmaker telling an African-American father/daughter story. Its main competition is probably Kitbull because it’s from Pixar and also sentimental, but involving animals instead of humans.

Nominees:
(read my review of all five nominees here)
– Dcera (Daughter)
– Hair Love

– Kitbull
– Memorable

– Sister

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Who Will Win: 1917, Roger Deakins
Who Should Win: The Lighthouse, Jarin Blaschke

Ugh. 1917 is the most overrated film of the year, as is its showy so-called “one take” camera approach. Technically impressive, sure, but not artistically, not in comparison to most of the other films here anyway. NOTE: if for some shocking reason 1917 doesn’t win here, then that could be a huge tell-tale sign that Sam Mendes’ Oscar favorite may get upset in the Director and Picture categories as well.

Nominees:
The IrishmanRodrigo Prieto
Joker, Lawrence Sher
The LighthouseJarin Blaschke
1917, Roger Deakins
Once Upon A Time…In HollywoodRobert Richardson

BEST FILM EDITING
Who Will Win: Ford v Ferrari
Who Should Win: The Irishman

A tight three-way race here between Ford v Ferrari, Parasite, and The Irishman. I’m guessing that voters will go with the flashiest one, but industry legend Thelma Schoonmaker has enough respect to get the love for The Irishman, and Parasite won the American Cinema Editors award which is often a good predictor. (If Irishman doesn’t win here it probably doesn’t win anywhere, despite having 10 total nominations.)

Nominees:
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Parasite

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Who Will Win: 1917
Who Should Win: 1917

Another tight three-way race here between 1917, Parasite, and Once Upon a Time…on Hollywood. The dark horse of the three is probably Parasite, and voter will undoubtedly love how Tarantino’s movie transported them back to a nostalgic Hollywood era. But in the end, I think 1917 gets it for the truly awesome scale on which these sets had to be built, ones that — given the nature of the “single take” visual approach — had to literally cover the same land mass as they would have in real life. Of all the awards that 1917 is nominated for, this is the one that it should win.

Nominees:
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
1917
Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
Parasite

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Who Will Win: Little Women
Who Should Win: The Irishman

A really tough call here. Little Women didn’t even receive a nomination from the Costume Designers Guild (where Jojo Rabbit and Once Upon a Time… both competed), but Little Women did win the BAFTA and, historically, period pieces ranging from the 17th to 19th Century are like Oscar bait.

Nominees:
Little Women
Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Who Will Win: Bombshell
Who Should Win: Bombshell

Another competitive category where only one (Maleficent 2) doesn’t stand a chance. I’m betting that Bombshell‘s double-take inducing “Is that Megan Kelly?!” transformation of Charlize Theron will win the night, along with some of the best, most authentic latex makeup I’ve ever seen that turned a thin John Lithgow into an obese Roger Ailes.

Nominees:
Bombshell
Joker
Judy
– Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
1917

BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
Who Will Win: Ford v Ferrari
Who Should Win: Ford v Ferrari

If Ford v Ferrari doesn’t win both sound categories, it’ll be an Awards Season crime. If 1917 wins both, it will portend a BIG night for that World War I epic.

Nominees:
Ford v Ferrari
Joker
1917
Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

BEST SOUND MIXING
Who Will Win: Ford v Ferrari
Who Should Win: Ford v Ferrari

I repeat: If Ford v Ferrari doesn’t win both sound categories, it’ll be an Awards Season crime. If 1917 wins both, it will portend a BIG night for that World War I epic.

Nominees:
Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
1917
Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood
Joker

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Who Will Win: Avengers: Endgame
Who Should Win: Avengers: Endgame

I think there’s a lot of love and admiration for what the MCU has meant to the industry for the past ten years and I expect that to be expressed here, especially given how warmly embraced this OG Avengers finale was. But if it loses, I’d bank on the photo-realism of The Lion King, a movie that is an entire feature-length visual effect, and not The Irishman which, despite its innovations in de-aging, doesn’t seem to be all that beloved. And again, if 1917 wins here (which it could), it’ll be an early tea leaf for a big Oscar night sweep.

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

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