The 92nd Academy Awards will be held tonight, effectively bringing awards season to a close. 2019 was a fantastic year for movies, perhaps the best of the decade and the most memorable since 2010 (The Social Network, Inception, True Grit, The Fighter, 127 Hours, etc.).
On Monday I released The Minute Awards, my own take on the Oscars. While it was mostly an excuse to show love to Uncut Gems, which I'm now calling my favorite movie of all-time, it was also a way to step away from the often formulaic and predictable nature of major award shows.
This year's Oscars feel like they're going to play it safe with the winners, much like they did with the nominees. I hope there's some sense of excitement during the once again host-less night but one thing is clear: there needs to be some change if the Oscars want to remain prevalent for generations to come.
With that recycled PSA out of the way, here are my predictions for who will be taking home (some of) the most prestigious awards in filmmaking.
These aren't necessarily picks of who I want to win but rather who I think will win. Hence the "predictions". (I don't know why I felt the need to explain that.)
Winners will be highlighted.
Actor in a Leading Role
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)
Joker (dir. Todd Phillips) was (probably) the most polarizing film of the year, as its portrayal of a mentally ill white man scorned by society led to fears of "incel violence" throughout theaters upon release. Critics played into the notion, leading to a 68% score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 59% on Metacritic, both much lower than anticipated. It almost felt as if there was an organized smear campaign against the film but moviegoers weren't deterred; Joker is the first R-rated movie to gross over $1 billion worldwide.
The Academy obviously thought differently than the critics, handing Joker a leading 11 nominations. With his Golden Globe win, Joaquin Phoenix cemented himself as the front-runner for Best Actor at the Academy Awards. His portrayal of Arthur Fleck is unnerving and at times brutal. It's an embodiment of the Joker in a way audiences have never seen, not even in comics. The actions Arthur takes on his way to becoming Joker are heinous but you can't help but feel for him a bit. Heath Ledger won a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his gripping performance of Joker in The Dark Knight (dir. Christopher Nolan) and come Sunday we'll see the Crown Price of Crime be awarded on the biggest stage in film once again.
Actress in a Leading Role
Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)
Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)
Charlize Theron (Bombshell)
Renée Zellweger (Judy)
I admittedly haven't seen Judy (dir. Rupert Goold) but based on everything I've listened to and read, it's looking like Renée Zellweger is going to walk away tonight victorious for her role as Judy Garland.
Personally, I'd love to see Saoirse Ronan win but there doesn't seem to be too much buzz around her odds, which is a shame. Shoutout Little Women.
Actor in a Supporting Role
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)
Much like Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt's win at the Golden Globes all but assures his win tonight. He plays Cliff Booth, a stuntman and best friend of Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), a Hollywood star in the 1960s during the rise of Charles Manson and his family.
A win tonight would net Pitt his first career Oscar for acting. He won Best Picture in 2014 for producing 12 Years a Slave and has received nominations for acting and producing.
Pitt has dominated awards season and it's about time one of the most prolific actors of all-time gets celebrated for his work on-screen.
If I had to pick another actor to win this category, it'd be Tom Hanks. He was awesome as Mr. Rogers and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was a really enjoyable movie.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell)
Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)
Florence Pugh (Little Women)
Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
In one of the most stacked categories of the night, Laura Dern will continue to dominate awards season by taking home her first Oscar (third nomination). Last night she won an Independent Spirit Award to add to the Golden Globe she won a few weeks ago. Dern also had a role in Little Women, which has multiple nominations and is one of my favorite movies of 2019.
Dern plays "Nora Fanshaw, a divorce lawyer representing Scarlett Johansson (Nicole) as she splits up with her husband." (Pulled directly from THE MINUTE AWARDS out of sheer laziness.)
I've become a Laura Dern fan after she absolutely dominated season two of Big Little Lies and Marriage Story was great, it'll be exciting to see her win tonight.
Rodrigo Prieto (The Irishman)
Lawrence Sher (Joker)
Jarin Blaschke (The Lighthouse)
Roger Deakins (1917)
Robert Richardson (Once upon a Time... in Hollywood)
No shocker here. The Academy is going to praise 1917 (dir. Sam Mendes) any chance it gets and if there's one aspect of the film that fully deserves recognition, it's the cinematography.
If you've read anything or talked about 1917 with anyone, the focus has surely been on the cinematography. It's edited to appear as if there are only two shots throughout the entirety of the movie and it looks insane. The film truly places you in the trench warfare of World War One and is one of the most visually impressive things I've ever seen.
It's a damn shame that A24's only nomination came from this category. They put out such impressive work in 2019.
Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
Todd Phillips (Joker)
Sam Mendes (1917)
Quentin Tarantino (Once upon a Time... in Hollywood)
Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)
Unless the Academy really wants to rile up some controversy by handing Todd Phillips this award, they're going to make a historic move and award Bong Joon-ho's incredible work on Parasite, which quickly became an international phenomena.
He delivers a message about class inequality in a truly unique way with great performances and stellar set pieces. He's among good company with the other nominees but when it comes to storytelling and filmmaking, Joon-ho stands a cut above the rest; I think the Academy will recognize that.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Steve Zaillian (The Irishman)
Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)
Todd Phillips & Scott Silver (Joker)
Greta Gerwig (Little Women)
Anthony McCarten (The Two Popes)
I've been waiting for this. Little Women was an absolute delight, a big part of that being Gerwig's fantastic screenplay. For a movie set during and right after the Civil War, it feels modern, in a way. Like, as modern as a Civil War-era movie can feel. The dialogue is great, which shouldn't have come as a surprise following Lady Bird.
Gerwig should've received a Directing nomination but that's another Academy issue in itself. Despite the Academy being filled with old people, they need to grow up. They'll show a sign of maturity by celebrating Gerwig and one of the year's best films.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Rian Johnson (Knives Out)
Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)
Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917)
Quentin Tarantino (Once upon a Time... in Hollywood)
Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won (Parasite)
While the other nominees are incredibly deserving, and I feel like any of them could win (with the exception of 1917), none were more effective than Parasite at conveying their message.
Parasite is thrilling, hilarious, and horrifying. It's a thrill ride of emotions and is poised to keep making history with another Academy Award.
Ford v Ferrari
Once upon a Time... in Hollywood
Despite their being a number of nominees being better at being, well, a film, 1917 is widely expected to take home the biggest award of the night. Do I think it deserves to? I'm not sure. It trots out plenty of war movie tropes that we've been accustomed to seeing over the years but what it does from a production and visual standpoint is incredibly worthy of praise.
It makes perfect sense why 1917 became an Academy darling. It feels as if any well-made war movie, regardless of era, will be shown some kind of love by award shows. If 1917 doesn't end up winning, look for Parasite to make history.
There they are. I know I left out a lot of categories but I figured I'd do the most notable. I'll be following the Oscars the whole night and hope I don't embarrass myself with these picks. I guess we'll have to wait and see.