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.