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Predicting the 92nd Academy Awards

With awards season in full swing and the Oscar nominations being announced, there have been many surprises already. After the Golden Globes shut-out of Scorsese’s The Irishman, and the successes of films like 1917, the Oscars race is the tightest I believe it has ever been. Joker’s 11 nominations tops the night, while The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 1917 follow closely with 10 each. These major films by such well recognised directors with such incredible casts were bound to do well, although it has been well known within Oscars history that well-nominated movies have often left empty-handed (think The Colour Purple, with 11 nominations and 0 wins), and as we’ll see by my predictions, this is entirely plausible this year for numerous films that originally had massive Academy buzz.

Throughout, I’ll be detailing who I believe will take the statuettes for each major category, as well as acknowledging those who I believe should win out of the nominees, and then discussing those who were not nominated, but definitely should have been. I’ll then just give my prediction for the smaller and more technical categories.  My decisions are based on the current climate of Hollywood, what has been happening at other awards shows, and the media campaigns for each film.

  1. Best Picture

My prediction: 1917

  • The Irishman
  • Parasite
  • 1917
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Joker

What should win? Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Biggest snub: The Farewell

As someone who has avidly watched movies from most years, I can safely say that this year is one of the most spectacular years for film in a long, long time. In movie history, years like 1939, with Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz; 1976 with Taxi Driver, Network and Carrie; 1999 with The Matrix, Toy Story and Fight Club stand out as amazing years with so many amazing films, and I would happily rank 2019 amongst them. What makes 2019 stand out so boldly is the innovation on display in the stories we see. Movies like Us, Parasite and Jojo Rabbit are only three examples of incredible stories brought to life on the big screen which have captured the hearts of millions of movie goers and critics, and I can’t wait to see what 2020 has to offer.

The Best Picture race this year is extremely tight, with many of the movies having been universally acclaimed. Given the Golden Globes and Critics Choice success of 1917, I find it hard to imagine the award going any other place. If any film were to dethrone 1917, I would probably give it to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I personally believe it should win, as it has been regaining massive momentum during the beginning of exam season despite its mid-year release, winning the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture- Musical or Comedy, and the Critic’s Choice for Best Movie, beating 1917.  It is very rare for a film to pick up this kind of momentum after being out for so long, as they usually just fade out of the cultural consciousness. Clearly Tarantino’s modern classic is here to stay, and it might just snatch the Oscar from the grip of 1917.

One could argue that Joker with its 11 nominations will take the top prize, but I really can’t see this happening. Joker was met with heavy criticism when it was first released, and the controversy of its depiction of mental health and violence, as well as Phoenix’s refusal to discuss it, could have left a sour taste in voter’s mouths. Whilst it is a beautifully crafted and disturbing performance, it is just that against a pretty mediocre movie. Its script was just alright, and its other performances very forgettable. Its highlights are of course Phoenix’s now legendary performance, Hildur Guðnadóttir’s haunting score, and the gorgeous cinematography. Yes, Joker has cemented itself as a worthy Oscar contender, but it is not a Best Picture winner. If it is, I am unsure if my faith could be restored in the Academy’s voting system. I still haven’t forgiven them entirely for giving Best Picture to The King’s Speech over The Social Network.

Biggest snub goes to The Farewell, Lulu Wang’s drama about a family coming together to be with the grandmother who doesn’t know she’s dying. With a beautiful Golden Globe winning performance by Awkwafina, and Zhou Shuzhen’s gorgeous snubbed performance, coupled with a lovely screenplay, it seems like the perfect Oscar-vehicle, but given the ferocious competition this year it just got lost in the sea of other amazing movies.

  1. Best Director

My prediction: Sam Mendes

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

Who should win?: Quentin Tarantino

Biggest Snub: Greta Gerwig 

At this point, I think it’s clear to see the way the stars are aligning for Sam Mendes. This year will be the year he wins his 2nd directing Oscar, his first being for American Beauty back in 2000. He’s already won the Globe and the Critic’s Choice; it’s now only a matter of time before he goes and claims his prize.

However, I wish the Academy would finally recognise Tarantino for being the consistently incredible director he is. This is his 3rd nomination in the category and his 8th overall nomination, and I just think it’s his time. For a film to pick up the momentum Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has in the last month, despite being released in July, is telling of how epic this film really is.

Biggest snub goes to Greta Gerwig for Little Women. When I tell you that I’m mad about this snub I’m downplaying my anger. Greta Gerwig shouldn’t only be nominated; I believe she should win this award. Little Women is easily one of the best films of 2019, and to me one of the best films in recent memory. It didn’t rely on violence or vulgarity or any of the cheap tricks directors rely on nowadays because the story and direction was so perfect it didn’t need to. This really was Gerwig’s love letter to Louisa May Alcott’s amazing book, and was full of small biographical details which really showed her love for this work.

The director’s category has always lacked female representation, with Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman to win in 2010. This just goes to show that the industry still has a long long way to go in terms of recognising female talent and rewarding it as it should be rewarded. Other notable female exceptions are Lulu Wang for The Farewell, and Lorene Scarafia for Hustlers, both incredible female-led movies which were completely snubbed this year.

  1. Best Actor

My prediction: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker

  • Adam Driver for Marriage Story
  • Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory
  • Joaquin Phoenix for Joker
  • Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes

Who should win?: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker

Biggest snub: Taron Egerton for Rocketman

Again, this year is an incredible year for film, and this is entirely evident through the Best Actor category. There have been unbelievable performances this year that won’t even make it into the list. Examples include Brad Pitt for Ad Astra, Song Kang-ho for Parasite and so on. But given the momentum of Joker, and having already won a Globe and a Critic’s Choice, Joaquin Phoenix is sure to win the Oscar. Already a 3-time nominee, he clearly has the respect of the Academy, and it just seems that it’s going to go his way this year. I agree too that it should be him to win; I predicted he would win as soon as I left the cinema. His performance was legendary and a real testament to how far the man can push himself; he dedicated himself entirely to this performance to the point it made me physically uncomfortable to watch, and that is the sign of an amazing performance. So, for God’s sake, give Joaquin Phoenix his Oscar.

Biggest snub easily goes to the man who beat Leonardo DiCaprio at the Golden Globes and yet still wasn’t nominated: Taron Egerton. There are numerous reasons this snub could have occurred, but the biggest being the unfortunate timing of the film. We are only a year removed from a Best Actor-winning performance in a musical biopic movie, and it’s very early release date barely let the dust settle on Bohemian Rhapsody before another musical biopic came out. Realistically, the producers really screwed Egerton over with this one, because his performance is leaps and bounds better than Rami Malek’s, and many critics have agreed. Had the timing been better, I could’ve seen this as Egerton’s star-making vehicle that could’ve launched him into Oscar success, but sadly not.

  1. Best Actress

 My prediction: Renee Zellweger for Judy

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

Who should win?: Renee Zellweger for Judy

Biggest Snub: Lupita Nyong’o for Us and Constance Wu for Hustlers

Another major category spoilt for choice this year is for Best Actress. I think 2019 is the year of female-power movies, with Bombshell, Little Women and Harriet proving that female empowerment movies will always be great commercial performers. However, the trend of biopic movies, particularly biopics depicting real-life entertainers have always been major Oscar-winners. Think Sissy Spacek for The Coal Miner’s Daughter, Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose, or Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line, and you will see that the entertainer biopic has and always will be major Oscar-bait. Hence why I believe that Renee Zellweger, who masterfully embodied the late, great Judy Garland 50 years on from her death, will take this year’s golden statuette.

Biggest snub was a tie, with Lupita Nyong’o for Us, and Constance Wu for Hustlers. They give dramatically different styles of performance, but both just as mesmerisingly effective. Whilst Nyong’o gives a soul-bearing and frightening performance that is acted gloriously, Wu works in every subtlety, and manages to portray a deeply conflicted yet determined character. I am disappointed that neither have been nominated, as I believe Nyong’o especially deserved recognition for playing 2 characters flawlessly, however the extremely early release date of Us, and JLo’s overshadowing of Wu in the press means both sadly missed out on the nominations they do truly deserve.

  1. Best Supporting Actor

My prediction: Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

  • Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Al Pacino for The Irishman
  • Joe Pesci for The Irishman
  • Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
  • Anthony Hopkins for The Two Popes

Who should win?: Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Biggest snub: Willem Dafoe for The Lighthouse

I think you’d be foolish not to admit that Brad Pitt virtually carries the lengthy 2hr 40 min run time of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood completely on his shoulders. Whilst only technically a supporting role, I think Pitt deserves a leading nomination for this role. He is cutting, hilarious, and layered (in a completely Tarantino way). To me, this is Pitt’s best ever screen performance, and I think the Academy would be stupid not to just hand it to him now. Unless something drastically changes, I cannot see anyone else winning this award, taking Pitt’s Oscar-count to 2, alongside his win as a producer for 12 Years a Slave.

Biggest snub goes to Willem Dafoe, a 4-time nominee and a man who is really on a roll the last few years. He was nominated for Best Actor last year for At Eternity’s Gate, and for Best Supporting Actor in 2018 for The Florida Project. Yes, The Lighthouse is a really weird movie, and the reason why it was so snubbed is because it is in no way commercially viable, but the acting on display by both Dafoe and Robert Pattinson is so spectacular I really expected him to get a nomination. Dafoe has made a career out of these smaller arthouse movies, and The Academy seems to enjoy rewarding him for them, so I’m shocked to see his omission this year. Being honest, I’d have much rather seen him within the category than Anthony Hopkins or Al Pacino, who give alright, but very ‘meh’ performances overall.

  1. Best Supporting Actress

My prediction: Laura Dern for Marriage Story

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

Who should win: Florence Pugh for Little Women

Biggest snub: Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers

I had a hard time with this category in the run-up to Oscar season, because there are so many performances this year which I was unsure would really be enough to be nominated. Take Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: many fans assumed she’d receive a nomination, but her screen time was minimal and her performance wasn’t exactly layered; she was really just a vessel to progress the Manson storyline, and to show off Tarantino’s foot fetish. Similarly, Meryl Streep’s performance in Little Women, which from what I’ve seen is only small, but could she be nominated just because its Meryl Streep? Besides, the Academy doesn’t have a problem giving the Supporting statuette to small performances, like Ingrid Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express, or Beatrice Straight in Network, who both gave nearly 5 minutes of proper acted screen time. But overall, given how well received her performance was, Laura Dern will surely finally take home her first Oscar for her performance in Marriage Story. After 2 previous nominations, the Globe and Critics Choice Awards, and the mega couple of years she’s had, it seems right to give her her due and reward her.

However, in watching Little Women, it is hard as hell not to think that the entire movie, whilst meant to be about Saoirse Ronan’s Jo March,  ultimately falls on Florence Pugh as Amy. She receives the most screen time of any character, and she feels like the character with the most amount of development through the story. Pugh’s performance is arguably the highlight of the entire film and I believe such a breakout role should be rewarded. If Pugh doesn’t walk away with the prize, I can already see her taking one sometime in the future, for her career is only just beginning.

  1. Best Original Screenplay

My prediction: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino

  • Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach
  • Parasite – Bong Joon-Ho and Han Jin-won
  • Knives Out – Rian Johnson
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
  • 1917 – Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns

Who should win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino is hailed as the modern king of the screenplay, having already won 2 awards in this category, and I believe he will finally reach the ranks of masters like Chayefsky and win 3 solo awards. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a masterclass of dialogue writing: its wit and humour, and its references to 60’s popular culture will surely win over the Academy, who have always loved movies about Hollywood, like in 1951 when Sunset Boulevard won for this exact category. Whilst I think Parasite and Knives Out have a big chance to win this also, Tarantino’s signature wit and charm might win him his third Oscar.

Honestly, I don’t believe there is a biggest snub in this category; everyone who I thought should be nominated was nominated.

  1. Best Adapted Screenplay

My prediction: Jojo Rabbit- Taika Waititi

  • The Irishman– Steven Zaillian based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt
  • Jojo Rabbit– Taika Waititi based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens
  • Joker – Todd Phillips and Scott Silver based on the characters created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson
  • Little Women– Greta Gerwig based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Two Popes– Anthony McCarten based on the play The Pope by Anthony McCarten

Who should win: Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi

Biggest Snub: Hustlers – Lorene Scarafia

For me, this will probably be Jojo Rabbit’s only win out of quite a few nominations, but it is well deserved. However, if the Academy really are feeling the Little Women hype, I can see that taking this award too, which may leave Jojo Rabbit award-less come the 9th February.

Biggest snub goes to Hustlers, whose screenplay was rich with humour, but also some great monologues which were brilliantly brought to life by the performances of its cast. Hustlers was a surprisingly brilliant film, with many calling it a ‘female Goodfellas’, and I think it deserves a spot in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

Considering the number of other awards it looks set to scoop on the night (Best Costume Design, Best Production Design etc.), the biggest winner this year will be Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with 4 wins. This could easily increase if the Academy were to give it Best Picture and Director, but only time will tell. In the current climate, I still believe 1917 will take home the grand prize, and that The Irishman will sadly leave empty-handed.

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