DMFS Predicts the Oscars – 2020 Edition
The 92nd Academy Awards are less than a week away, which means now’s the time to fill out our Oscar ballots and make our final predictions for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.
However, as is often the case, this year’s slate of Oscar nominees features some glaring omissions. The Academy’s latest snubs range from baffling (the complete shutout of the Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems”) to downright sexist (Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” Greta Gerwig’s direction for “Little Women”).
But with that being said, plenty of great films were still recognized (or, in the case of “Little Women,” partially recognized) by the Academy, meaning there is yet some excitement to be had on Sunday night.
What follows, then, are our predictions, as well as our preferred winners, for eight of the top categories at this year’s Academy Awards.
- “Ford v Ferrari”
- “The Irishman”
- “Jojo Rabbit”
- “Little Women”
- “Marriage Story”
- “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Who will win: “1917”
Sam Mendes’ wartime epic carries a powerful anti-war message, but most of the discussion around the film has been centered on its uncanny one-shot effect. Brought to life through seamless long takes by cinematographer Roger Deakins, the effect may actually be enough to push “1917” in front of the pack come Oscar night, especially considering the Academy honored “Birdman” in 2014, a movie with a similar visual technique. Also, “1917” has already won the Best Picture-equivalent awards from the Golden Globes and the Producers Guild of America — two usually reliable predictors for the Academy’s top prize.
Who should win: “Parasite”
No other film from 2019 has tapped into our current zeitgeist quite like Bong Joon-ho’s global phenomenon, “Parasite.” The movie is a grand and gripping treatise on class and greed, a mutating masterpiece about a poor family’s attempt to infiltrate a rich family’s home. “Parasite” has already made history by becoming the first South Korean film to receive any Academy Award nomination, let alone one for Best Picture. Unfortunately, a nomination may be all “Parasite” receives in this category, as the Academy has yet to award its highest honor to a non-English language movie (excluding the pseudo-silent French film “The Artist”).
- Bong Joon-ho – “Parasite”
- Sam Mendes – “1917”
- Todd Phillips – “Joker”
- Martin Scorsese – “The Irishman”
- Quentin Tarantino – “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Who will win: Sam Mendes – “1917”
The Academy loves to award showy craftsmanship, and no movie from last year was more in your face about its technical excellence than Sam Mendes’ one-shot marvel, “1917.” As far as award season momentum, Mendes has already received best director honors at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Who should win: Bong Joon-ho – “Parasite”
Although we would be ecstatic if Martin Scorsese was honored for his incredible work on “The Irishman,” we’re rooting most for Bong Joon-ho, who directs “Parasite” with both razor-sharp precision and eruptive spontaneity. Bong intuitively merges styles, genres and tones in “Parasite,” which also boasts some of the best-directed performances from any cast in a movie this past year.
- Antonio Banderas – “Pain and Glory” as Salvador Mallo
- Leonardo DiCaprio – “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” as Rick Dalton
- Adam Driver – “Marriage Story” as Charlie Barber
- Joaquin Phoenix – “Joker” as Arthur Fleck / Joker
- Jonathan Pryce – “The Two Popes” as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Who will win: Joaquin Phoenix – “Joker” as Arthur Fleck / Joker
Joaquin Phoenix’s slow-burning, psychologically-scorched transformation from wannabe comic to killer clown in “Joker” has netted the actor virtually every pre-Oscar award this year. That includes best actor honors at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards, just to name a few.
Who should win: Adam Driver – “Marriage Story” as Charlie Barber
In “Marriage Story,” Adam Driver’s turn as soon-to-be divorcee Charlie Barber is powerful because of its ferocity, as well as its disarming vulnerability. Also, unlike Phoenix’s scenery-chewing transformation, Driver is a generous scene partner, as many of the most indelible moments in “Marriage Story” emerge from the dramatic interplay between Driver and co-star Scarlett Johansson.
- Cynthia Erivo – “Harriet” as Harriet Tubman
- Scarlett Johansson – “Marriage Story” as Nicole Barber
- Saoirse Ronan – “Little Women” as Josephine “Jo” March
- Charlize Theron – “Bombshell” as Megyn Kelly
- Renée Zellweger – “Judy” as Judy Garland
Who will win: Renée Zellweger – “Judy” as Judy Garland
Renée Zellweger’s transformation into Hollywood icon Judy Garland is the clear frontrunner here, given the Academy’s fondness for biopic impersonations (not to mention their self-aggrandizing habit of rewarding movies about movies). Zellweger has been absolutely dominant on the award show circuit, as well, snagging best actress prizes at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Who should win: Saoirse Ronan – “Little Women” as Josephine “Jo” March
Saoirse Ronan eschews impersonation for reinvention in her nominated performance, bringing the beloved “Little Women” heroine to life with a refreshingly modernist sensibility. Ronan explores the full range of Jo March’s inner life but does so from the dual vantage point of a woman and an artist, embracing all the necessary complexities that define both sides of her identity.
Best Supporting Actor
- Tom Hanks – “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” as Fred Rogers
- Anthony Hopkins – “The Two Popes” as Pope Benedict XVI
- Al Pacino – “The Irishman” as Jimmy Hoffa
- Joe Pesci – “The Irishman” as Russell Bufalino
- Brad Pitt – “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” as Cliff Booth
Who will win: Brad Pitt – “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” as Cliff Booth
Brad Pitt ups his own coolness factor in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” in which he plays Cliff Booth, a laconic stunt double with an aloof disposition and a dependable pit bull. While not the most demanding performance in this category, Pitt’s sheer charisma may be enough to propel him to victory, especially considering he’s already scooped up honors at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Who should win: Al Pacino – “The Irishman” as Jimmy Hoffa
In a perfect world, this award would be split down the middle and given to both Al Pacino and Joe Pesci for their tandem roles in Martin Scorsese’s mob movie elegy “The Irishman.” But since we’re only honoring one actor, Pacino’s turn as Teamster union leader Jimmy Hoffa would barely edge out Pesci’s magnetically minimalist performance for its kinetic energy alone.
Best Supporting Actress
- Kathy Bates – “Richard Jewell” as Barbara “Bobi” Jewell
- Laura Dern – “Marriage Story” as Nora Fanshaw
- Scarlett Johansson – “Jojo Rabbit” as Rosie Betzler
- Florence Pugh – “Little Women” as Amy March
- Margot Robbie – “Bombshell” as Kayla Pospisil
Who will win: Laura Dern – “Marriage Story” as Nora Fanshaw
Laura Dern turns what should be a one-note stock character into an incredibly memorable and powerful screen figure. Her role as Nora Fanshaw, divorce lawyer in Noah Baumbach’s deeply empathetic “Marriage Story” is, in equal measure, infuriating and captivating. It’s a combination that’s netted supporting actress honors at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Who should win: Florence Pugh – “Little Women” as Amy March
Side character Amy March is made fully dimensional in “Little Women,” thanks to Florence Pugh’s honest and sympathetic portrayal of the overlooked sister. Pugh isn’t afraid to showcase Amy’s weaknesses, including her jealousy of Jo, as well as her own desire for an artist’s life. It all adds up to an emotionally rich performance that adds dramatic texture to Jo’s story, while also forming a mini-narrative for Amy.
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
Who will win: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” – Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino is no stranger to this category, having won the award twice before for “Pulp Fiction” and “Django Unchained.” Now, with “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” it looks like the writer-director is well on his way to a third screenplay Oscar. The movie is stuffed with Tarantino’s typically colorful dialogue, but its thematic thread of impermanence and wish fulfillment is what will likely push the backlot drama to a win on Oscar night.
Who should win: “Parasite” – Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won
The keyword in this category is original, and no other movie from 2019 pulsated with as much originality as “Parasite.” Screenwriters Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won crafted a modern-day parable of class division and wealth inequality, and all of it falls into place like a jagged jigsaw puzzle. It’s not even a question whether or not “Parasite” should win this award; the real question is why won’t it?
Best Adapted Screenplay
- “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 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 his play The Pope
Who will win: “Jojo Rabbit” – Taika Waititi based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens
The Third Reich is skewered and set ablaze in “Jojo Rabbit,” the whimsically irreverent anti-hate satire by writer-director-actor Taika Waititi. The movie, which tells the story of an impressionable Hitler youth, has garnered controversy, as well as praise for Waititi’s tricky balancing of wartime drama and ruthlessly funny satire. It may be a winning combination come Oscar night, as “Jojo Rabbit” recently picked up screenplay honors at the British Academy Film Awards.
Who should win: “Little Women” – Greta Gerwig based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott
When it comes to literary adaptations, few movies have transmitted as much whimsy, heartbreak and humanity from the page to the screen as Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women.” The movie turns the beloved Louisa May Alcott novel into a kaleidoscopic array of lived-in experience — of romantic setbacks, personal grief and artistic pursuit. It all unfolds in nonlinear rushes of memory, scripted with the dramatic heft of prose and paced with the musicality of poetry.
— Clinton Olsasky
The 92nd Academy Awards will screen live, for free, at the Fleur Cinema & Cafe on Sunday, Feb. 9. For more details, click here.