It’s another year of snubs, shoo-ins, and spun-out speeches. Who will win at this year’s Oscars?
In recent award seasons, I’ve found myself thinking, “Hey, I guess Hollywood’s taste is diversifying!” Seeing “Moonlight,” “The Shape of Water,” “Black Panther,” and Rami Malek win in their respective categories led me to wonder if, finally, the Academy had turned over the metaphorical stone of traditional, conventional films. So, rather naively, I walked into this year’s Oscars with any expectations at all.
The release of the nominee list for the 92nd Academy Awards shocked me. Having watched over 50 movies that were released in the past year, including all 9 Best Picture nominees, I was disappointed to see that Hollywood’s old guard had emerged victorious. Over and over in each category read “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” “1917,” “Joker,” and “The Irishman.” Names like Leonardo Dicaprio, Al Pacino, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johannson lined up the acting categories. Alas, #OscarsSoWhite strikes again.
I’ll hurry off my unsolicited soap box and exchange it for my equally-unsolicited bully pulpit of Oscar predictions. Let’s take a look at who has a shot of bringing a gold-plated statuette home, according to some random student at UC San Diego.
On Sunday, Feb. 9, all our screens will turn into a celebrity-run live auction. The announcer will shout: “1917!” Best Director. “1917!” Best Picture. If the film doesn’t lose the two biggest accolades to its rival, “Parasite,” the one-take war epic still has Best Cinematography and Best Production Design in the bag. It’ll also take Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, because, according to the Academy, there’s no difference between the two categories, and how could the more deserving car-bro movie “Ford v Ferrari” be Oscar-material? Regardless, hopefully director Sam Mendes remembers to wear his walking shoes.
Or Bong Joon-ho, for that matter. His Korean thriller, “Parasite,” will undoubtedly win Best Foreign Language Film, and has a good shot at winning Best Original Screenplay. For a film so richly layered in twists and symbolism, it fully deserves winning these categories, as well as Best Director and Best Picture. It has a legendary cast, it’s pushed the boundaries of filmmaking — I still can’t get over that one montage — and it’s introduced new audiences to foreign cinema. For these achievements, “Parasite” warrants recognition, change my mind.
On the other hand, predictions for Best Actor have not altered in months. Ever since hearing about his initial casting in “Joker,” I already knew that Joaquin Phoenix would deliver one of the best performances of the year. Phoenix — finally getting that Oscar recognition — has practically won every award that he’s been nominated for his role in “Joker.” Maybe next time, Kylo Ren.
Similarly, the Best Actress front-runner is Renée Zellweger in the Judy Garland biopic “Judy,” following the Oscar-winning trend of actors and actresses playing real-life people, like Rami Malek and Gary Oldman. Slight uncertainty lies in the Best Supporting Actress and Actor categories, with awards likely going to Laura Dern from “Marriage Story” and Brad Pitt from “Once Upon a Time,” the latter who would be beating out veterans like Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins for his first Oscar. Both play comedic relief characters who happen to be my favorite aspects of their movies
Best Original Score will likely go to Hildur Guðnadóttir’s melancholic score for “Joker,” while Best Original Song will go to “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” by Elton John, Bernie Taupin, and Taron Egerton — I’m sorry the Academy snubbed you, you’re My Best Actor — from “Rocketman.” On a similar note, Billie Eilish’s surprise performance at the Oscars will likely be her new song for the upcoming James Bond movie.
For more niche categories, nearly all nominees are game. Stalemates prevail between “1917” and “Avengers: Endgame” for Best Visual Effects, and “Parasite” and “Ford v Ferrari” for Best Film Editing. Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Costume Design are up in the air between several aforementioned films, but my predictions go to “Bombshell” and “Little Women,” respectively. “Little Women” might also snag Best Adapted Screenplay, which almost makes up for it not being nominated for Best Director. Best Animated Feature has lots of standout films, but given the Oscar’s penchant for Disney animations, “Toy Story 4” is a relatively safe bet.
If “1917” doesn’t end up sweeping like I and most people speculate, “Parasite” or “The Irishman,” maybe even “Joker,” could win the majority of their categories. Can you imagine headlines reading: “BEST PICTURE WINNER JOKER”? After last year’s wins for “Green Book” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I unfortunately can.