The Oscars go epic: Predictions for the 2020 Academy Awards

The Oscars will be awarded on February 9 (February 10 at 3 a.m. in Israel) and will be broadcast live on YES.

1917 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Oscars will be awarded on February 9 (February 10 at 3 a.m. in Israel) and will be broadcast live on YES. This year, there was much more discussion about the lack of diversity among the Oscar nominees than about the quality of the movies. But most of us are more concerned about how good a movie is than about the gender/race/nationality of its creators. We’re also concerned about convenience, which is partly why Netflix has become so popular, with its movies receiving 24 nominations, more than for any other studio.
While streaming is a trend that seems likely to continue, the movie industry tends to be culturally conservative, if politically liberal. The prospect of movie theaters closing if moviegoers choose to view films at home is a scary prospect, and they tend to favor movies that work best on the big screen.
Best Picture: In a nine-way race with a preferential ballot, it’s hard to call. So let’s save ourselves some trouble by looking only at the five films whose directors got a Best Director nod. Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman was on Netflix, which is a negative for much of the film industry. Todd Phillips’ Joker is too cynical and dark for a body that likes uplifting films. Ditto for Parasite, and no film that was not in English has ever won. So it’s between 1917 and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. Once Upon a Time is clever and satiric, but has a disturbing finale that features the graphic killing of several young women (albeit murderous Manson family members) played partly for laughs. 1917 is an anti-war epic, technically dazzling and uplifting and has won the lion’s share of industry awards. WINNER: 1917.
Best Director: The script and the actors (who did not receive any nominations) were not the key to 1917’s success, it was the directing. WINNER: SAM MENDES, 1917.
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Best Actor: Two actors are nominated for Netflix movies, Adam Driver in Marriage Story and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes, and they are not likely to win. Neither is Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, since he won recently for The Revenant. First-time nominee Antonio Banderas was extraordinary as an ailing, lonely movie director in Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory, but the movie was not the director’s best. Joaquin Phoenix gave one of those tour-de-force performances in the title role in Joker as a scarily unhinged man that Oscar loves to reward. WINNER: JOAQUIN PHOENIX, JOKER.
Best Actress: Renee Zellweger is the clear front-runner for her portrayal of Judy Garland in Judy, playing a woman who suffered terribly from substance abuse and was abused by male studio heads. WINNER: RENEE ZELLWEGER, JUDY.
Best Supporting Actor: Except for Brad Pitt, all the nominees – Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anthony Hopkins and Tom Hanks – have at least one Oscar at home. Pitt is well-liked and his character was the most likable in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. WINNER: BRAD PITT, ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD.
Best Supporting Actress: The consensus is that Laura Dern will be rewarded more for her body of work than for her relatively brief turn as a smarmy divorce lawyer in Marriage Story. WINNER: LAURA DERN, MARRIAGE STORY.
Best Original Screenplay: The front-runners are Parasite and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. While Parasite has an unquestionably brilliant screenplay, Once Upon a Time is by Quentin Tarantino, who has won this award twice in the past. It’s about movie people and Oscar loves self-referential movies. WINNER: QUENTIN TARANTINO, ONCE UPON A TIME... IN HOLLYWOOD.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Many would love nothing more than to see Greta Gerwig, a young, female director, win for Little Women. But Taika Waititi is likely to take home the prize for the Nazi era film, Jojo Rabbit. It won the People’s Choice Award at Toronto, a harbinger of Oscar success, and many other awards. And Waititi, who is half-Jewish, half-Maori, qualifies for the diversity vote and is extremely effective at promoting the film. WINNER: TAIKA WAITITI, JOJO RABBIT.
Best International Feature: Parasite, which is nominated for six Oscars altogether, is the clear front-runner. WINNER: PARASITE.
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