Academy Awards 2020 predictions: there’s no frontrunner yet

The Academy Awards are a lot more open than they’ve been in a while. This time last year the Green Book vs Roma narrative was already in place. This year already feels more unpredictable. It seems like The Irishman vs Once Upon a Time in Hollywood vs 1917 vs Parasite. With the nominations announced on 13th January, here are some predictions for what to expect.

Best Picture

Best Picture is very competitive this year, although there appears to be 8 films that will probably get a nomination. So many awards correlate with the Best Picture category, including the top prizes at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and the PGA. Four films have secured nominations at all those awards: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, The Irishman, 1917, and Joker. They seem pretty set as the top contenders. Parasite should also get in, because it just has incredible buzz. Some even consider it the favourite to win, which would be a first for a foreign-language film.

© 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co.

Beyond that are all kinds of popular picks. Marriage Story is beloved by many film fans and will feature heavily in the acting categories too. Jojo Rabbit is divisive, but scooping up nominations elsewhere so will likely grab a slot. It also benefits from winning the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, as the previous 7 winners grabbed a Best Picture nomination. There’s also Little Women, unfortunately the only female-directed film in serious Oscar contention, but it’s well liked.

There’s also a chance for the inoffensive Ford v Ferrari to sneak in or the very fun Knives Out to grab a nomination; both films have their fans. There’s a few more with a chance, but really these are the 10 or so with a shout.

LOCKS:

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 2. The Irishman
  • 3. 1917

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION:

  • 4. Parasite
  • 5. Joker
  • 6. Marriage Story
  • 7. Jojo Rabbit
  • 8. Little Women

POSSIBLES:

Best Director

There are four directors essentially set in stone here: Scorsese, Bong, Tarantino, and Mendes. All have been nominated in pretty much every competing Awards show out there. The real question is who will be the fifth nominee. Todd Phillips was the fifth at the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes, for the very Scorsese-derivative and divisive Joker. Greta Gerwig could get a nomination with votes coming from those who admire her brilliant work on Little Women. There’s also Noah Baumbach and Taika Waititi, who each have fans but maybe too few would call them a favourite.

© 2020 Michael Kovac

LOCKS

  • 1. Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
  • 2. Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)
  • 3. Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • 4. Sam Mendes (1917)

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 5. Todd Phillips (Joker)
  • 6. Great Gerwig (Little Women)
  • 7. Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)

POSSIBLES

  • 8. Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)

Best Actor

This is a tough category. There’s three obvious locks (Joaquin Phoenix for Joker, Adam Driver for Marriage Story, and Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) but then there’s so many awards-worthy male performances out there this year. Taron Egerton won a Golden Globe and could well get in for Rocketman. Antonio Banderas has won a lot of awards for Pain and Glory, so he’s probably in too. But it feels wrong that Robert De Niro is left out for The Irishman, especially with Eddie Murphy for Dolemite is My Name and Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems waiting in the wings. Some very talented performers will be getting nothing this year.

© Warner Bros.

LOCKS

  • 1. Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
  • 2. Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
  • 3. Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 4. Taron Egerton (Rocketman)
  • 5. Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory)
  • 6. Robert De Niro (The Irishman)

POSSIBLES

  • 7. Eddie Murphy (Dolemite is My Name)
  • 8. Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)
  • 9. Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari)
  • 10. Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)

Best Actress

Best Actress reveals a diversity problem at the Oscars this year. Only three actresses (Renée Zellweger, Scarlett Johansson, Charlize Theron) have scooped up nominations at all the relevant organisations and so they seem locked in. Saoirse Ronan also just seems a given for her powerful performance in Little Women. But then that leaves just one slot for all the wonderful work by women of colour this year. Awkwafina will probably get in after her Globes win, but Cynthia Erivo, Lupito Nyong’o, and Ana de Armas could always be a surprise pick.

© Pathe UK

LOCKS

  • 1. Renée Zellweger (Judy)
  • 2. Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
  • 3. Charlize Theron (Bombshell)

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 4. Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)
  • 5. Awkwafina (The Farewell)
  • 6. Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)

POSSIBLES

  • 7. Lupita Nyong’o (Us)
  • 8. Ana de Armas (Knives Out)

Best Supporting Actor

To some extent, Best Supporting Actor is an easy category to guess. Brad Pitt, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, and Tom Hanks are all pretty much guaranteed. Brad Pitt winning could even be the easiest bet of the actual ceremony. Anthony Hopkins filling in the fifth slot is a popular consensus, but the acting categories tend to throw in a curveball for foreign-language actors every now and again (remember Marina de Tavira getting a nomination for Roma). So the rising feeling that Korea’s Song Kang-ho deserves a nomination could well be fulfilled when the nominations are announced.

© Netflix

LOCKS

  • 1. Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
  • 2. Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
  • 3. Al Pacino (The Irishman)
  • 4. Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 5. Song Kang-ho (Parasite)
  • 6. Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes)

POSSIBLES

Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actress is the most open acting category. Laura Dern is definitely in. The same probably goes for Margot Robbie and Jennifer Lopez. But after that is anyone’s guess. Could Florence Pugh, the standout from Little Women, get in? Could Scarlett Johansson get a second nomination (after Marriage Story) for Jojo Rabbit? Could the lovable grandmother from The Farewell (Zhao Shuzhen) make it through? Or perhaps an actress from Parasite? It’s a very unpredictable category this year.

© Netflix

LOCKS

  • 1. Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
  • 2. Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
  • 3. Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 4. Florence Pugh (Little Women)
  • 5. Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
  • 6. Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell)

POSSIBLES

  • 7. Lee Jung-eun (Parasite)
  • 8. Annette Bening (The Report)
  • 9. Cho Yeo-jeong (Parasite)
  • 10. Margot Robbie (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)

There’s 18 more categories at the Academy Awards this year, ranging from screenplay to sound, Documentary Feature to Animated Short. Without going into incredible detail, below are bonus predictions for EVERYTHING at the Academy Awards this year. Tune in to the Oscar telecast on 13th January to see if we were right.

Best Original Screenplay

LOCKS

  • 1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 2. Marriage Story

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 3. Parasite
  • 4. Knives Out
  • 5. The Farewell
  • 6. Booksmart

POSSIBLES

  • 7. 1917
  • 8. Pain and Glory

Best Adapted Screenplay

LOCKS

  • 1. The Irishman

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 2. Jojo Rabbit
  • 3. Little Women

POSSIBLES

  • 4. Joker
  • 5. The Two Popes
  • 6. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Best Animated Feature Film

LOCKS

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 3. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

POSSIBLES

Best Documentary – Feature

LOCKS

  • 1. Apollo 11
  • 2. For Sama

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 3. Honeyland
  • 4. American Factory
  • 5. One Child Nation
  • 6. The Cave

POSSIBLES

  • 7. Maiden
  • 8. The Great Hack
  • 9. The Edge of Democracy

Best International Film

LOCKS

  • 1. Parasite
  • 2. Pain and Glory
  • 3. Les Misérables
  • 4. Atlantics

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 5. Beanpole
  • 6. Honeyland

POSSIBLES

  • 7. Corpus Christi
  • 8. The Painted Bird

Best Cinematography

LOCKS

  • 1. 1917
  • 2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 3. Joker
  • 4. The Irishman

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 5. The Lighthouse
  • 6. Parasite

POSSIBLES

Best Costume Design

LOCKS

  • 1. Little Women
  • 2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 3. Rocketman

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 4. Dolemite is My Name
  • 5. Downton Abbey
  • 6. The Irishman
  • 7. Jojo Rabbit

POSSIBLES

  • 8. Joker
  • 9. Judy

Best Film Editing

LOCKS

  • 1. The Irishman
  • 2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 3. Ford v Ferrari
  • 4. Parasite

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 5. Joker
  • 6. 1917
  • 7. Marriage Story

POSSIBLES

  • 8. Jojo Rabbit

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

LOCKS

  • 1. Bombshell
  • 2. Joker
  • 3. Rocketman

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 4. Judy
  • 5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

POSSIBLES

Best Production Design

LOCKS

  • 1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 2. 1917
  • 3. The Irishman

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 4. Little Women
  • 5. Parasite
  • 6. Jojo Rabbit

POSSIBLES

  • 7. Joker

Best Original Score

LOCKS

  • 1. Joker
  • 2. Little Women
  • 3. 1917

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

POSSIBLES

Best Original Song

LOCKS

  • 1. “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” (Rocketman)
  • 2. “Into the Unknown” (Frozen II)
  • 3. “Stand Up” (Harriet)
  • 4. Spirit” (The Lion King)

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 5. “Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” (Wild Rose)
  • 6. “A Glass of Soju” (Parasite)

POSSIBLES

  • 7. “I’m Standing With You” (Breakthrough)
  • 8. “Speechless” (Aladdin)

Best Sound Editing

LOCKS

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

POSSIBLES

  • 7. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • 8. Joker
  • 9. The Irishman
  • 10. Us

Best Sound Mixing

LOCKS

  • 1. 1917
  • 2. Ford v Ferrari

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • 4. Rocketman
  • 5. Avengers: Endgame
  • 6. Ad Astra
  • 7. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

POSSIBLES

  • 8. The Irishman
  • 9. Joker

Best Visual Effects

LOCKS

  • 1. Avengers: Endgame
  • 2. The Lion King
  • 3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

DEFINITELY IN CONTENTION

  • 4. The Irishman
  • 5. 1917
  • 6. Alita: Battle Angel

Best Live Action Short Film

LOCKS

  • 1. Brotherhood
  • 2. The Neighbors’ Window

POSSIBLES

  • 3. A Sister
  • 4. Little Hands
  • 5. Refugee
  • 6. Miller and Son
  • 7. Nefta Football Club

Best Animated Short Film

LOCKS

  • 1. Hair Love
  • 2. Kitbull

POSSIBLES

  • 3. The Physics of Sorrow
  • 4. Dcera (Daughter)
  • 5. Sisters
  • 6. Hors Piste
  • 7. Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days

Best Documentary – Short Subject

LOCKS

  • 1. Fire in Paradise
  • 2. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

POSSIBLES

  • 3. Stay Close
  • 4. After Maria
  • 5. Walk Run Cha-Cha
  • 6. St. Louis Superman
  • 7. Life Overtakes Me
  • 8. The Nightcrawlers

The 92nd Academy Award nominations will be announced 13 January and the ceremony will take place 9 February 2020.

Darren Carver-Balsiger

Nerdy mix of a technical day job and a film-loving hobby. Can be found at film festivals, watching any film that can be found (old and new, from home or abroad), and writing. Prominent user on Letterboxd: https://letterboxd.com/DarrenCB/