By: Emily Miller
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The Oscars.
While last year was a bit of a wild ride, this year’s ceremony is shaping up to be a bit calmer. With more wrapped up categories and less last minute races, Oscars bloggers can breath a little easier.
So hang tight y’all. Together we are going to win that Oscar pool..
Will Win: 1917
Could Win: Parasite
Dark Horse: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
What once was a crowded and chaotic Best Picture race has settled down nicely between three films, 1917, Parasite and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. While all the films have a chance at winning, ultimately the film with the best shot is 1917. It has won some crucial top prizes like the Golden Globe, BAFTA DGA and PGA for Best Film. The big award it didn’t win was the SAG for Best Ensemble, which was given to Parasite. That has convinced a lot of people that Parasite is destined for the top award because the Academy’s largest voting body is actors. However, 1917 wasn’t nominated, therefore Parasite’s win came at no contest. While it still has a very real chance of winning, ultimately the front runner remains 1917.
Last year’s Oscars is eerily similar to this year’s race. It came down to a foreign film entirely in a different language, and a historical drama focused on a white protagonist. While Roma was the front runner, it was the mediocre (and mildly racist according to some) film about a white protagonist who ends up being a hero, that ultimately won the top award. In a post Green Book world, it seems like the safe bet is 1917. It is a much better regarded film than Green Book ever was, and the largest percentage of voters is still older white men. And while the Academy has tried to incorporate new members to switch up their voting body, it was not effective this year. 19 out of 20 acting nominations went to white actors. Taking last year’s race into account, the edge this year goes to 1917.
Will Win: Renee Zellweger – Judy
Could Win: Scarlett Johanson – Marriage Story
From the moment the trailer was released for the film Judy, the internet cried Oscar for Renee Zellweger. Then in September when the film actually came out, the internet and critics cried Oscar. Even though it is now six months later, Zellweger has never lost her front runner status. She has won every major award before this including the SAG, Critics Choice, Golden Globe and BAFTA and she’s not stopping now with Oscar. She’s also in the type of role the Academy loves to reward, physical transformations while playing a real life figure. Scarlett Johanson has the best chance of staging an upset, however. Her film Marriage Story has been nominated for Best Picture which ensures that voters will have seen it, as opposed to Zellweger’s film Judy, which only scored one other nomination for Hair & Make Up. Johanson also wowed a lot of people with her five minute monologue.
Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
Could Win: Adam Driver – Marriage Story
Should Have Been Nominated: George MacKay – 1917
One of the biggest surprises when the Oscar nominations came out was which film ended up with the most nominations. It wasn’t any of the Best Picture front runners, it was Joker, the film that had just surpassed one billion dollars at the global box office. The surprising success of the film can be attributed solely to the masterful performance by Joaquin Phoenix. He literally and figuratively transforms, losing lots of weight, donning a mask of make up, while humanizing one of the comic book world’s most horrific villains. He’s won every major award this year, and if his polarizing acceptance speeches criticizing racial issues within Hollywood hasn’t alienated voters, then nothing will stop this three time nominee from his first Oscar. Except perhaps Adam Driver. If Phoenix’s performance, film, or acceptance speeches are just too much for traditional Academy voters, the award is Driver’s to steal. He gave a beautiful heartbreaking performance that’s all too real for anyone who has gone through a divorce.
Also, I wish so much George MacKay was nominated. His performance brought me to tears.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Will Win: Laura Dern – Marriage Story
Could Win: Scarlett Johanson – Jojo Rabbit
This race was originally a hot mess. Then Laura Dern won the Golden Globe, and everything settled down. She won the Critic’s Choice, and then arguably her biggest competition, Jennifer Lopez, was inexplicably left out of the category on nomination day. Dern then went on to win the SAG and BAFTA and cemented herself as the one to beat. While she will most likely win for her performance as a divorce lawyer with killer instincts, she is the least safe of the four acting awards. Many weren’t impressed with her role and view this Oscar as more of a career nomination than specifically for this performance. If there ends up being a Laura Dern fatigue, then Scarlett Johanson has a real shot at sneaking in. She’s nominated for both Marriage Story and Jojo Rabbit and a lot of people want to reward her for the incredible year she’s had. Zellweger has a pretty tight grip on the Best Actress race so this category is voters best shot at giving her an award.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Will Win: Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Could Win: Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Should Win: Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Had it been any other year, the triumphant return to acting by Joe Pesci would have been enough to secure him his second Supporting Actor Oscar. (His first was for Goodfellas.) However, even the great Pesci could not compete with the incomparable cool of Brad Pitt (and a voting split between fellow The Irishman costar Al Pacino in this category). Though the beloved actor first swaggered onto screen nearly thirty years ago with Thelma & Louise and has been nominated three times for acting, Pitt has never actually won an Oscar in an acting category. After a turbulent few years in his personal life, Pitt came back stronger than ever this year with films Ad Astra and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This Oscar will represent Pitt’s comeback year, as well as a culmination of his entire career. He’s won the Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice, SAG and BAFTA for this role and he’ll continue his streak to Oscar. If he loses, look back to Pesci for the steal. He’s a true icon, and there’s a group of people who feel Pitt’s turn isn’t truly a supporting one.
But I wish we we’re talking about Tom Hanks who played an American icon perfectly by capturing his spirit, and not through the use of prosthetic.
Will Win: Sam Mendes – 1917
Could Win: Bong Joon Ho – Parasite
Dark Horse: Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
While the Best Director category is difficult to predict, ultimately it will fall in line with the Best Picture race. 1917‘s director Sam Mendes should prevail here. He’s won the Golden Globe, BAFTA and most importantly the top prize from his own union, the Director’s Guild Award. Their winner has gone on to win the Best Director Oscar 64 out of 71 times. The Academy also loves to reward technically savvy films more so than artistic ones. So though it is a close race for sure, Mendes should walk away with the trophy. If there is an upset, look to either Ho or Tarantino. Ho’s film has memorized audiences and Tarantino should never be counted out of any race. He’s Quentin Tarantino.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Will Win: Jojo Rabbit
Could Win: Little Women
This category was the closest race to call. Two films two have been neck and neck throughout Awards season, Jojo Rabbit and Little Women. This category has a strong history of rewarding individuals who pulled double duty as writer/directors. But as it happens both Taika Waititi and Greta Gerwig are their films writers and directors, it has made this category infinitely more complex. I have been #TeamLittleWomen throughout this entire awards season, which breaks my heart to predict Jojo Rabbit. It won the BAFTA and WGA for best Adapted Screenplay, two of the hugest precursors to predicting this category. Waititi also acts in his own film (as a jokey Hitler no less!) His star turn should just give him the edge. But if the voters want to right their egregious error of not nominating Greta Gerwig in the Best Director category, look to Gerwig with the upset.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Will Win: Parasite
Could Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Typically any film that stars or lovingly portrays Hollywood, goes on to win this category. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was once the front runner for this award and seemed like an easy pick. But the sensational rise of Parasite has relegated the once favorite to second. Parasite has been hailed as one of the smartest and most unique films of the year. It transcends genres and boundaries and created a truly unique film that no one had ever seen before. More importantly, it seems some voters who could not award the film Best Picture, have united to vote for it here, as a pseudo consolation prize. If it loses though, look back to the original front runner, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, an ode to Hollywood and the industry voters are all a part of.
Will Win: 1917
Could Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
One of the most delightful surprises from last year’s Oscars was when Roger Deakins won for his work on Blade Runner 2049. It was the 69 year old’s first win despite 13 prior nominations beginning in 1994 for The Shawshank Redemption. He now enters this year’s awards ceremony as the front runner for his stunning war epic, 1917. Deakins worked tirelessly with director Sam Mendes to make the film appear as if it was all one shot happening in real time. There were no cuts or close ups, just one continuing eye catching sequence. It required a lot of trickery and advanced technology; even filming one dizzying nighttime fire scene with synchronized flares and lighting rigs. He also won the top prize for the American Society of Cinematographer’s Awards, which is the biggest precursor for this award. If there is a surprise look to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for the upset. Robert Richardson shot on Kodak 35mm film and achieved high color saturations that perfectly personified the smooth cool quality of LA.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
This category has an easy formula to select a winner, pick the grandest period costume in a film nominated for Best Picture. This year that film is Little Women. The costumes were spectacular and served Greta Gerwig’s vision of an updated version while still remaining true to the classic novel. It’s also the type of costume that voters feel like they should reward here. Costumer Designer Jacqueline Durran already as one Oscar for her work on Anna Karenina so she’s well known in this category, which is also a huge advantage as there aren’t too many celebrities in this industry. This is also the only spot to give Little Women some Oscar love as they are most likely going to be shut out of the other categories. If voters are looking for something different and a bit more nuanced, then look to the other period piece in this category nominated for Best Picture, Jojo Rabbit, who just won the top prize at their own union.
Will Win: Little Women
Could Win: Jojo Rabbit
BEST FILM EDITING:
Will Win: Ford v Ferrari
Could Win: Parasite
Voters who don’t know too much about film editing usually go with the film that they think they should reward. This year, that film is Ford v Ferrari. It’s a fast paced film about car racing that was nominated for Best Picture. The film fundamentally would not work without it’s racing sequences. Therefore it’s going to be the film that voters gravitate towards. It’s also the film’s only chance at winning an award. However, if voters want a more artistic editing choice, look to Parasite for the win. It’s an extremely popular film whose editing choices were crucial to tracking several characters throughout important and suspenseful moments in the film.
BEST MAKE UP AND HAIR:
Will Win: Bombshell
Could Win: Joker
Odie Henderson, recently scoffed: “Who wins the Makeup Oscar for Joker? A blind Mary Kay consultant?” This is equal parts hilarious but also telling. The make up in Joker is very much a love it or hate scenario, which should ultimately hinder it from winning the top prize. Instead Bombshell should win with it’s scarily accurate ability to turn Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly. However if voters live under a rock and don’t understand how flawless that transformation was, then look back to Joker. It’s sweeping 11 nominations shows just how loved this film is.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Will Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Could Win: Parasite
Very rarely does this category reward contemporary films. The last movie to do so was La La Land but it was decidedly retro in design. Therefore out of the two films currently in the running to win, the edge goes to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It brilliantly recreates 1960s Hollywood, and there’s nothing Hollywood loves more than itself. Academy members shouldn’t be able to resist voting for this film. Still, Parasite is a very beloved movie and if voters want to go for something hip and different, then look to the memorable sleek Park house for a cool modern update to this sometimes dated category.
Will Win: Joker – Hildur Gudnadottir
Could Win: 1917 – Thomas Newman
This category typically goes to established male names in the composing industry. This year it looks like the mold will finally be broken by a young, up and coming woman, Hildur Gudnadottir. She’s had a sensational year picking up the BAFTA and Golden Globe awards not only for Joker, but for her incredible work composing the television series Chernobyl. Her music validated and normalized the Joker’s descent into madness and took us all along for the ride. Joker is also a very beloved film, picking up the most nominations this year with 11. There aren’t many chances for it to win awards, so voters should unite here to give it the win. If voters are still hesitant to vote for a woman or want to reward a film with a better chance at Best Picture, then look to Thomas Newman for 1917 for the upset. He’s been nominated 14 times and is still looking for his first win.
Listen to her main theme here.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG:
Will Win: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” – Rocketman
Could Win: “Stand Up” – Harriet
Though Frozen dominated this category seven years ago with the addictive “Let It Go”, it’s failure to pick up a Best Animated Feature nomination means Frozen 2 is most likely out of the competition. Which surprisingly leaves two serious films to duke it out for this award. While “Stand Up” is a powerful song sung by its movie’s star, Cynthia Erivo, the edge in this category goes to “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” from Rocketman, the winner the Golden Globe and BAFTA. It’s a delightfully fun bop sung by the film’s star Taron Edgerton AND the man himself, Sir Elton John, who will be performing it at the ceremony. It’s his star power that should push this song to win. Still, if voters are looking for something with a little more meat, look back to “Stand Up.”
Listen to “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” here.
BEST SOUND EDITING:
Will Win: 1917
Could Win: Ford v Ferrari
The incredible sound editing in 1917 made audience members, myself included, feel like they were at war by creating unique haunting sounds. Something epic was happening in every shot and the sounds were all sensational and all too real. War films nominated for Best Picture usually do quite nicely in these categories, (Think Dunkirk two years ago) and 1917 should be the one to beat. It’s the film that voters feel like they should vote for. Technically speaking though, the film in this category that deserves the win is Ford v Ferrari. It won the Cinema Audio Society Award for Best Sound. If voters want to vote for the most technically challenging film than Ford v Ferrari could come in with the upset.
BEST SOUND MIXING:
Will Win: 1917
Could Win: Ford v Ferrari
Though splits between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing have become more commonplace, overall these two categories usually go hand in hand. The average voter doesn’t understand the difference between the two categories. (Editing is about creating sounds for the film while mixing is about weaving those sounds into the editing of the film.) Therefore voters blindly vote for the same film in both categories which makes 1917 the front runner here as well. Whether voters understand the subtle nuances between the categories or not, the big sweeping war epic is what they think is the correct way to vote here.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Will Win: 1917
Could Win: Avengers: Endgame
In a sea of superheros, this category typically rewards the film nominated for Best Picture. This year there are two of those, The Irishman and 1917. Though The Irishman did score a nomination, it was also heavily criticized and mocked for some of it’s de-aging technology used on Robert DeNiro. This should set up 1917 quite nicely for the win. It seamlessly showcased war in breathtaking scope. Still, if visual effects artists want to reward something a bit grander, look to the best superhero film of the bunch, Avengers: Endgame.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
Will Win: Toy Story 4
Could Win: Klaus
For the first time in a long time, this category is a bit unpredictable. Arguably the biggest name in animated films this year Frozen 2, didn’t even receive a nomination. Missing Link won the Golden Globe, Klaus won the Annie Awards, and I Lost My Body has been the darling of Netflix and easily the most accessible out of the films nominated. In a chaotic world such as this, it seems only appropriate that voters will lean on some old friends, Woody and Buzz Lightyear. With votes scattered all over the place, unsure voters should stick with the tried and true name in this category, Disney/Pixar. Still there is always a small branch of the Academy who loathe to reward the corporate machine Disney with wins here, and as it is one of their weakest years headed into the ceremony, look to Klaus, a sweet Christmas film about one random act of kindness for the upset.
Will Win: American Factory
Could Win: For Sama
This category used to go to the grittiest, bleakest film nominated. However a few years back, the Academy opened voting in this category to all members, not just those specializing in documentary film making. Since then, there has been a marked change in this category. Films with lighter subject matter or big names attached to it have won. This year there is a film that personifies both of those attributes, American Factory. The film follows a Chinese billionaire as he opens a factory in an abandoned GM plant in Ohio, hiring thousands of Americans. Though it does have dark moments as the cultures clash, it’s ultimately a very strong film about what it means to be an American today. It also doesn’t hurt that the producers of this film are BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA. Their names alone should catapult this film to a win. If voters are looking for something with a bit more bite to their documentary, look to For Sama for the upset. It powerfully showcases the female experience of war in Syria, and it’s gut wrenching.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM:
Will Win: Parasite
Could Win: Pain and Glory
This is probably the safest bet of the night. Any time a foreign film has been nominated for Best Picture, it has won the Oscar for Best International Film. Parasite has a very real chance of winning Best Picture, like last year’s film Roma. The first step is winning this category. If Parasite loses, it will be one of the biggest upsets of the night. Look to Pain and Glory if voters are having Parasite fatigue. It’s star, Antonio Bandaras is nominated for Best Actor, which ensures that a lot of voters will have seen it. It’s also directed by Oscar winner Pedro Almodovar, a very recognizable name in the international film community.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT:
Will Win: Hair Love
Could Win: Kitbull
Last year this category rewarded Kobe Bryant for his moving animated short about his love of basketball while promoting black culture. Knowing that’s how the Academy voted last year, the slight edge goes to Hair Love. It’s the feel good story about an African American father struggling to do his daughter’s hair. It promotes black excellence, while also giving the Academy a chance to get away from their #OscarsSoWhite controversy by rewarding this movie. If the film ends up being too black for some voters, then look to Kitbull for the win. It’s a sweet tale about an alley-cat befriending an abused pitbull and frankly, who doesn’t love a good story starring cute animals?
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
Will Win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Could Win: St. Louis Superman
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) should win by title alone. (It’s difficult for voters to see every film nominated and the short categories are usually the first ones to fall SHORT on viewers list. Having this catchy and eye popping title really is an advantage here.) It’s the feel good story that showcases Afghani girls going to a stakeboarding school. It’s a feel good female empowering story. If it loses, look to the feel good story set a little closer to home, St. Louis Superman.
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT:
Will Win: Brotherhood
Could Win: The Neighbors’ Window
Brotherhood is about a Tunisian patriach whose oldest son and his wife may or may not have been recruited by ISIS after spending several years in Syria. The difficult subject matter is handled deftly, with a the world is headed to hell in a handbasket kind of way. It never comes off preachy or too dramatic. In a post Green Book world, this is the kind of film that makes people feel just liberal and cool enough when they appreciate it. It should get enough Academy votes to win. If not it will be The Neighbor’s Window with the upset. It’s a slick modern ode to Rear Window for a young generation that is sure to resonate.