The 2020 Academy Awards: Thoughts and Predictions

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Similar to last year’s highly divisive film Vice, there’s a notion that Hollywood’s left-leaning populace will only reward right-leaning subject matter Bombshell when it comes to the surface level. It’ll be a deserving winner though, as the terrific makeup brought to life a predator and his prey so convincingly that you felt as if you were looking at the people in the flesh. I’d had loved to have seen Rocketman nominated here as well.

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

Will Win: Bombshell

Could Win: Joker

Should Win: Bombshell

Deserved Consideration: Brittany Runs a Marathon, Dolemite Is My Name, Honey Boy, The Perfection, Rocketman

Best International Feature FilmPasite. PARASITE. Perhaps the night’s easiest category will go to the rightful winner of this line-up. However, I must say that France opting for Les Misérables (a quality movie) as their entry over Portrait of a Lady on Fire (a year best effort, and one of the great pictures of the last decade) was a truly confounding choice. Don’t miss POALOF when it opens across the U.S. in the coming months.

The Nominees: Corpus Christi, Honeyland, Les Misérables, Pain and Glory, Parasite

Will Win: Parasite

Could Win: Honeyland

Should Win: Parasite

Deserved Consideration: Atlantics, Climax, A Hidden Life, Luz, Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Best Original Score: I’ve never bought into the thinking that scores should simply be background noise. That they shouldn’t draw attention to themselves. My favorites are those that compliment a film, and that also work as their own piece of art. Alexander Desplat’s score for Little Women does that for me, but there’s no denying the bravado of Hildur Guðnadóttir’s work on Joker. It’s a piece of music you can play inside your own head, and one that brings the film’s images to mind.

The Nominees: Thomas Newman (1917), Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker), Alexandre Desplat (Little Women), Randy Newman (Marriage Story), John Williams (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)

Will Win: Hildur Guðnadóttir (Joker)

Could Win: Alexandre Desplat (Little Women)

Should Win: Alexandre Desplat (Little Women)

Deserved Consideration: Alex Weston (The Farewell), Nicholas Brittell (The King), The Haxan Cloak (Midsommar), Jung Jae-il, (Parasite), Oneohtrix Point Never (Uncut Gems)

Best Original Song: None of these nominees really stand out to me, so I have to believe that most voters will go for Rocketman simply to give a second Oscar to the beloved Elton John, even if the song itself isn’t good enough to belong on the B-side of his greatest hits. What frustrates me most is that audiences round the world won’t get to see Jessie Buckley perform “Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” from the brilliant picture Wild Rose. Not only did it deserve a nomination; it also deserved the win. Not convinced? Watch her performance at the BAFTAs.

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

Will Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (Rocketman)

Could Win: “Into the Unknown” (Frozen II)

Should Win: “Stand Up” (Harriet)

Deserved Consideration: “Breathe” (Her Smell), “Control” (Her Smell), “Spirit” (The Lion King), A Glass of Soju (Parasite), “Glasgow (No Place Like Home) (Wild Rose)

Best Director: Similar to the film editing category, recent trends show that best director goes to the filmmaker with the most ambitious approach to the material. Bong Joon-ho should take the stage in honor of his writing, and Sam Mendes will likely give thanks for being honored for his direction. Best director and Best Picture don’t always line up, but I think there’s a good chance it will this year.

The Nominees: Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Todd Phillips (Joker), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood), Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)

Will Win: Sam Mendes (1917)

Could Win: Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)

Should Win: Sam Mendes (1917)

Deserved Consideration: Ari Aster (Midsommar), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Céline Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Trey Edward Schults (Waves), Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems)


Best Actor in a Leading Role: Joaquin Phoenix is among the best actors of his generation and has never won an Oscar. That’s about to change. Take this one to the bank.

The Nominees: 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)

Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Could Win: Adam Driver (Marriage Story)

Should Win: Adam Driver (Marriage Story)

Deserved Consideration: Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse), Franz Rogowski (Transit), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)

Best Actress in a Leading Role: It’s only fitting that Renee Zellweger, after taking a long hiatus from acting, will win for playing Judy Garland, an iconic star who so desperately refused to burn out. The film itself isn’t all that remarkable, but her performance is a revelation. Of these nominees, I think she deserves it.

The Nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Will Win: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Could Win: Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)

Should Win: Renée Zellweger (Judy)

Deserved Consideration: Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale), Noémie Merlant (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), Elisabeth Moss (Her Smell), Lupita Nyong’o (Us), Florence Pugh (Midsommar),

Best Picture: The last award of the night will either go as expected or offer a little shock and awe. 1917 has pretty much swept the competition thus far, but with the Oscars’ preferential ballot system that doesn’t make it a lock either. There’s great love for Parasite, but no international film has ever won Best Picture. 91 years and it hasn’t happened, and I can’t envision voters changing that this time around. So I’m sticking with 1917 despite the fact that very few films have won without a single acting nomination in their back pocket. In tune with that line of thought, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Once Upon a Time…in HollywoodMarriage Story, or even Jojo Rabbit take home Oscar gold. I’m taking the safest option possible and preparing for a major twist.

The Nominees: 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, Parasite

Will Win: 1917

Could Win: Parasite

Should Win: Little Women

Deserved Consideration: Avengers: Endgame, The Farewell, Midsommar, The Nightingale, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Waves, Uncut Gems, Us


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