Notes on the 2020 Oscars

Best Picture

Another year, another weird number of Best Picture nominees. At least this year we get 9, which is one more than last year. Of course, that means that plenty of deserving films like The Farewell and Knives Out got boxed out for that #10 spot. At this point, we seem to be in a three-way tie between Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917 and Parasite, which all hit me very differently in terms of quality. Hollywood is the current favorite and I’m inclined to agree; look no further than the fact that it has “Hollywood” in the title. Indeed, the Academy does love to love movies about Tinseltown and this year looks to be no exception, unless 1917 pulls a Moonlight.

My Prediction: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Vote: Marriage Story
Overlooked: The Farewell

Best Director

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

This category looks to be much more difficult to call. With the exception of Phillips, you could make a case for any of the other 4 directors to take home the statue. My current gut feeling is towards Mendes, given how technically impressive his faux one-take war epic is. Bong Joon-ho, who helmed one of the most audacious and wildly enjoyable films of the year, would be my personal pick. Certainly a shame that Gerwig wasn’t represented for her terrific work in Little Women. Even though she was nominated previously for Lady Bird, her vision for Alcott’s classic novel deserved to be recognized here.

My Prediction: Sam Mendes
My Vote: Bong Joon-ho
Overlooked: Greta Gerwig – Little Women

Best Actor

  • 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

A surprisingly competitive field for Best Actor this time, especially in comparison to last year. Previous Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix seems to be an almost certainty for his undeniably great work in Joker. Great to see Adam Driver get recognition even though he won’t win; I’m sure he’ll have more chances down the road. As sleepy as The Two Popes was, Jonathan Pryce did reliably great work in it and Leonardo DiCaprio was hilarious as Hollywood‘s washed-up actor. Pain and Glory is one of the few titles nominated in a major category that I haven’t seen but I endeavor to do so before the big show.

My Prediction: Joaquin Phoenix
My Vote: Adam Driver
Overlooked: Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems

Best Actress

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

Probably my most frustrating category, as there were many brilliant female performances this year and yet, it looks very likely that the trophy will predictably go to Renée Zellweger for her admirable Judy Garland impression. I would much rather any of the other four actresses, especially Johansson, win the award and it looks like Charlize Theron has the best shot to upset. Still baffled that previous Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o got snubbed for her mesmerizing dual role in Us. The Academy did a great job at not ignoring Get Out two years ago, even though it came out early that previous year, and it’s a shame they didn’t give the same treatment to Peele’s follow-up.

My Prediction: Renée Zellweger
My Vote: Scarlett Johansson
Overlooked: Lupita Nyong’o – Us

Best Supporting Actor

  • Tom Hanks – A 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

My Prediction: Brad Pitt
My Vote: Joe Pesci
Overlooked: Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse

Best Supporting Actress

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

My Prediction: Laura Dern
My Vote: Florence Pugh
Overlooked: Thomasin McKenzie – Jojo Rabbit

Strong supporting categories this year, especially Supporting Actor. Aside from the current favorite Brad Pitt, every other Supporting Actor nominee has won previously. I love Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, despite the disturbing lack of Pittsburghese in his performance, but my personal preference would be towards Pesci for his quiet commanding work in The Irishman. It’s good to have him back.

Like Pitt, Laura Dern is similarly a lock in the Supporting Actress field. I’m obviously a huge Marriage Story fan, so I’m happy with any awards that film can gather, even if Dern’s role wasn’t as challenging as some of her competitors. Willem Dafoe and Thomasin McKenzie are obvious snubs for me but I also would’ve loved to have seen a nod for 10-year-old Julia Butters, who more than holds her own against Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Best Original Screenplay

  • 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

My Prediction: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Vote: Marriage Story
Overlooked: Booksmart

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Irishman – Steven Zaillian
  • Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi
  • Joker – Todd Phillips and Scott Silver
  • Little Women – Greta Gerwig
  • The Two Popes – Anthony McCarten

My Prediction: Little Women
My Vote: Little Women
Overlooked: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Best Animated Feature Film

My Prediction: Toy Story 4
My Vote: Missing Link
Overlooked: Ruben Brandt, Collector

Best International Feature Film

  • Corpus Christi
  • Honeyland
  • Les Misérables
  • Pain and Glory
  • Parasite

My Prediction: Parasite
My Vote: Parasite
Overlooked: Ash Is Purest White

Best Documentary – Feature

  • American Factory
  • The Cave
  • The Edge of Democracy
  • For Sama
  • Honeyland

My Prediction: American Factory
My Vote: Honeyland
Overlooked: Apollo 11

Best Documentary – Short Subject

  • In the Absence
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
  • Life Overtakes Me
  • St. Louis Superman
  • Walk Run Cha-Cha

My Prediction: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Live Action Short Film

  • Brotherhood
  • Nefta Football Club
  • The Neighbor’s Window
  • Saria
  • A Sister

My Prediction: Brotherhood
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Animated Short Film

  • Dcera (Daughter)
  • Hair Love
  • Kitbull
  • Memorable
  • Sister

My Prediction: Hair Love
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Original Score

  • Joker – Hildur Guðnadóttir
  • Little Women – Alexandre Desplat
  • Marriage Story – Randy Newman
  • 1917 – Thomas Newman
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – John Williams

My Prediction: 1917
My Vote: 1917
Overlooked: The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Best Original Song

  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4
  • “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
  • “I’m Standing with You” from Breakthrough
  • “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II
  • “Stand Up” from Harriet

My Prediction: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”
My Vote: “Stand Up”
Overlooked: “Super Cool” from The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Best Sound Editing

  • Ford v Ferrari – Donald Sylvester
  • Joker – Alan Robert Murray
  • 1917 – Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Wylie Stateman
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Matthew Wood and David Acord

My Prediction: 1917
My Vote: Ford v Ferrari
Overlooked: Waves

Best Sound Mixing

  • Ad Astra – Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano
  • Ford v Ferrari – Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Steven A. Morrow
  • Joker – Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic and Tod Maitland
  • 1917 – Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler and Mark Ulano

My Prediction: 1917
My Vote: Ford v Ferrari
Overlooked: High Life

Best Production Design

  • The Irishman – Production Design: Bob Shaw; Set Decoration: Regina Graves
  • Jojo Rabbit – Production Design: Ra Vincent; Set Decoration: Nora Sopková
  • 1917 – Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
  • Parasite – Production Design: Lee Ha-joon; Set Decoration: Cho Won-woo

My Prediction: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Overlooked: Knives Out

Best Cinematography

  • The Irishman – Rodrigo Prieto
  • Joker – Lawrence Sher
  • The Lighthouse – Jarin Blaschke
  • 1917 – Roger Deakins
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Robert Richardson

My Prediction: 1917
My Vote: The Lighthouse
Overlooked: The Beach Bum

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Bombshell – Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker
  • Joker – Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
  • Judy – Jeremy Woodhead
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil – Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten and David White
  • 1917 – Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis and Rebecca Cole

My Prediction: Bombshell
My Vote: Bombshell
Overlooked: Rocketman

Best Costume Design

  • The Irishman – Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
  • Jojo Rabbit – Mayes C. Rubeo
  • Joker – Mark Bridges
  • Little Women – Jacqueline Durran
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Arianne Phillips

My Prediction: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
My Vote: Little Women
Overlooked: Dolemite Is My Name

Best Film Editing

  • Ford v Ferrari – Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker
  • The Irishman – Thelma Schoonmaker
  • Jojo Rabbit – Tom Eagles
  • Joker – Jeff Groth
  • Parasite – Yang Jin-mo

My Prediction: The Irishman
My Vote: Parasite
Overlooked: Apollo 11

Best Visual Effects

  • Avengers: Endgame – Dan DeLeeuw, Matt Aitken, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick
  • The Irishman – Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Stephane Grabli, and Nelson Sepulveda
  • The Lion King – Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Elliot Newman
  • 1917 – Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler, and Dominic Tuohy
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach and Dominic Tuohy

My Prediction: Avengers: Endgame
My Vote: The Irishman
Overlooked: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Enjoy the show!