The 2020 Academy Awards: Thoughts and Predictions

Another great year for film. Another list of nominees that hardly embody or represent just how fantastic 2019 was in cinema. It’s the same record played on repeat. Many of the winners should be quite predictable, but I genuinely think – and hope – that we’re in store for a few surprises as well. Below are my predictions listed in the order the categories just recently announced.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Something tells me that there will be a few major surprises this Sunday, but the acting categories seem to be the safest of the bunch, especially when it comes to Best Supporting Actor. It’s baffling to me that Pitt – a household name, a generational talent, and one of the few remaining movie stars – has only taken home the golden statuette as a producer. Do I think Tom Hanks should win? It’s the more difficult role. But every other nominee has already found their Oscar gold for acting, and I’ll be clapping when Pitt gets his well deserved standing ovation from his peers.

The Nominees: 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)

Will Win: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood)

Could Win: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)

Should Win: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)

Deserved Consideration: Sterling K. Brown (Waves), Sam Claflin (The Nightingale), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse), Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy), Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy)

Best Animated Feature Film: Here’s one of the more difficult picks of the night. Past tendencies say that you should go with Netflix’s Christmas original Klaus. The best feature winner of the Annie Awards, highlighting the year’s best work in animation, have aligned with the with the top prize here 6 of the last 9 years. So you might assume this year’s winner Klaus has the best odds. But in the 3 times they didn’t match up, the winner went to a Disney film, which is a stronger predictor than the Annie Award winner. Personally, I just don’t see voters going for a middling – albeit handsome – holiday animation, especially when Toy Story 4 was well received by most audiences and most critics (myself not included).

The Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, I Lost My Body, Klaus, Missing Link, Toy Story 4

Will Win: Toy Story 4

Could Win: Klaus

Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Deserved Consideration: Teen Titans Go! Vs. Teen Titans

Best Animated Short Film: The consensus choice seems to be Hair Love, which I won’t – and shouldn’t – argue with since I haven’t seen every nominee in this category. It is uplifting, timely, and available for free and in full on YouTube. So I’ll go with the one that can be watched most easily. Doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty darn charming and creative either. True to the heart of the short, Hair Love doesn’t depend on empty words or dialogue. The great animation and storytelling convey the conversations we know would be happening internally and externally. I hope it wins and gets the platform it deserves. Give it a watch during commercial breaks.

The Nominees: Dcera (Daughter), Hair Love, Kitbull, Memorable, Sister

Will Win: Hair Love

Could Win: Kitbull

Should Win: Hair Love

Best Original Screenplay: I’m a big fan of Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, but as has been the case thus far in awards season, your likely winner is Parasite. The way Bong Joon-ho’s script unfolds is really unlike anything I’ve seen in recent memory, and that something written in a language most of the Academy can’t even read goes to show how universal its message really is. Don’t count out voters’ affinity for Quentin Tarantino though.

The Nominees: Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917), Rian Johnson (Knives Out), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood), Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won (Parasite)

Will Win: Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won (Parasite)

Could Win: Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood)

Should Win: Bong Joon-ho & Han Jin-won (Parasite)

Deserved Consideration: Ari Aster (Midsommar), Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems), Jordan Peele (Us), Trey Edward Shults (Waves), Lulu Wang (The Farewell)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Despite being the adapted category, I have a hunch that voters will still pick the film that feels the most original, and that will be Jojo Rabbit. I don’t love the movie as much as many do, but there’s really no denying that there really hasn’t been anything like it since 1997’s Life Is Beautiful. Greta Gerwig’s adaptation is outstanding, modern, classic yet colloquial. It’s just that story has been done before and I think that will sway enough Academy members in a different direction.

The Nominees: Steven Zaillian (The Irishman), Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), Todd Phillips & Scott Silver (Joker), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Anthony McCarten (The Two Popes)

Will Win: Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)

Could Win: Greta Gerwig (Little Women)

Should Win: Greta Gerwig (Little Women)

Deserved Consideration: Micah Fitzerman-Blue & Noah Harpster (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, & Jason Keller (Ford v Ferrari), Destin Daniel Cretton & Andrew Lanham (Just Mercy), Joel Edgerton and David Michôd (The King), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers)

Best Live-Action Short Film: The short categories are typically where Oscar pundits make or break their entire ballot and this year is no different. I really enjoyed the performances in The Neighbors’ Window, and while I hate to say it, I think the fact that it’s the only entry in the English language plays into its favor.

The Nominees: Brotherhood, Nefta Football Club, The Neighbors’ Window, Saria, A Sister

Will Win: The Neighbors’ Window

Could Win: Brotherhood

Should Win: The Neighbors’ Window

Best Production Design: This is a three horse race, and I’d be absolutely fine with any of the trio pulling out in front. The design of the homes in Parasite is essential to understanding the economic divide, and it even serves as the vessel for surprise twists. As for Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, the way they recreated the Sunset Strip is simply something to behold. Both would be worthy winners. But I’m going with 1917, a technical marvel that immerses its audiences in the trenches and the horrors of war unlike many other movies I’ve seen.

The Nominees: 1917, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Parasite

Will Win: 1917

Could Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Should Win: Parasite

Deserved Consideration: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Knives Outs, Little Women, Midsommar, Us

Best Costume Design: My gut tells me, with the Academy’s affinity for period pieces in this category and the number of nominations it received, that this is Little Women‘s award to lose. That’s the safe pick here, but I would not be shocked if Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood takes the cake. Sure, it’s just 70’s attire. Yet when I close my eyes, I can immediately picture its epitome of cool and casual. I can’t say the same for the rest. This will be an interesting one.

The Nominees: Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson (The Irishman), Mayes C. Rubeo (Jojo Rabbit), Mark Bridges (Joker), Jacqueline Durran (Little Women), Arianna Phillips (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood)

Will Win: Little Women

Could Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Should Win: Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Deserved Consideration: Dolemite Is My Name, Knives Out, Midsommar, Us, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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