With a more deserving set of best picture nominees than we’ve seen in recent years, this year’s awards season has also been more exciting, even though the four acting wins are extremely predictable this year. Here’s look at who should win and will win in the eight main categories, and other predictions for this Sunday’s 92nd Academy Awards
SHOULD WIN, WILL WIN
Best Motion Picture
Ford v Ferrari
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
Should win: After last year’s nominees for best picture—wherein just three films really evoked strong emotions, excitement or awe—this year’s best picture nominees offer a lot more. From the absolutely endearing Jojo Rabbit, to the heartbreaking Marriage Story; from the exciting Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood to the awesome Joker—most of these films are as admirable as best picture nominees ought to be. Parasite was baffling and thrilling with its seamless marrying of genres, giving us an excellent amalgamation of engaging comedy and thriller. And it comes close to deserving best picture. However, I have to say that it’s still not as impactful as 1917, if one had to draw a comparison, which is what awards are about. The World War I film was technically superior, visually spectacular, an edge-of-the-seat experience from beginning to end, all the while striking a strong emotional chord with its portrayal of humanness in times of war. It’s certainly a cut above the rest, and it should be this year’s big winner.
Will win: It’s quite possible that Parasite will make history, becoming the first ‘foreign language film’ to win the Oscar for best picture. However, that seemed more likely a few weeks ago, and as the awards season has unfolded, it’s become apparent that 1917 has more steam to get all the way to the finish line at the grand finale of this compressed awards season. With its Golden Globes for best picture and director, and big wins at the directors’ and producers’ guild awards, as well as a sweep at last week’s BAFTAs, it seems more likely now than ever that 1917 will be named best picture on Sunday. And I can’t think of any other picture more deserving.
Achievement In Directing
The Irishman | Martin Scorsese
Joker | Todd Phillips
1917 | Sam Mendes
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood | Quentin Tarantino
Parasite | Bong Joon Ho
Should win: Sam Mendes, for sure… I think 1917 was a masterpiece, with scale and pace and a coming together of numerous technical aspects, without which the impact would not have been the same. To effectively steer that ship and achieve those results, the captain deserves it.
Will win: Sam Mendes will win, even though Bong Joon Ho might pose an upset. I’d be very surprised if anyone other than these two take it away—even Tarantino.
Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role
Cynthia Erivo in Harriet
Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan in Little Women
Charlize Theron in Bombshell
Renée Zellweger in Judy
Should win: Renée Zellweger, who was excellent as she portrayed the desperate, fading stardom of Judy Garland. She brought out insecurity, irrationality and entitlement with every twitch, every pout, and every outrageous move. Her performance was heartbreaking and delightful—all at once.
Will win: At the Golden Globes, Zellweger made note of the number of years it’s been since she was present last at the awards scene. This nomination comes after her supporting actress Oscar win in 2004, for Cold Mountain. Sixteen years later, she will win her second Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. Quite a comeback indeed!
Performance By An Actor In A Leading Role
Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio in Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
Adam Driver in Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix in Joker
Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes
Should win: Although I think Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Driver were exquisite in their roles, this one belongs to Joaquin Phoenix. He’s kind of made a comeback to the awards scene this year, quite like Ms. Zellweger, and what a comeback it has been. He portrayed the devious, devastating and diabolical Joker with such compelling conviction, that it’s hard to pick any other performance as the best.
Will win: This is Phoenix’s year. And his win will be absolutely deserving.
Performance By An Actress In A Supporting Role
Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell
Laura Dern in Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh in Little Women
Margot Robbie in Bombshell
Should win: Margot Robbie, who delivered with devastating restraint, as she portrayed inner conflict and the gut-wrenching feeling of being violated, in Bombshell. Even Scarlett Johansson was terrifically delightful in Jojo Rabbit, but Robbie’s performance demanded more nuance, and she delivered.
Will win: Laura Dern seems to be this season’s frontrunner here, and I do believe she was good, even though I don’t think she was the best among the above performances. And I know that the Oscars aren’t about quantity. Yet, her win will be for just that one monologue about Mary and god. I’d be surprised if they play any other clip of hers when these nominees are being announced.
Performance By An Actor In A Supporting Role
Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins in The Two Popes
Al Pacino in The Irishman
Joe Pesci in The Irishman
Brad Pitt in Once upon a Time...in Hollywood
Should win: I think it should be Al Pacino for The Irishman. I do believe The Irishman was a let-down, but Pacino’s performance was not.
Will win: He was cool, laidback, and effortless, like Brad Pitt. I think Pitt was basically playing himself in Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. That’s why I believe there is such honesty in his performance. It might not be his career’s best performance, but it sure as hell will be cool to see him win for a role where he did, I’ll admit, kick ass, even literally!
The Irishman | Screenplay by Steven Zaillian
Jojo Rabbit | Screenplay by Taika Waititi
Joker | Written by Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
Little Women | Written for the screen by Greta Gerwig
The Two Popes | Written by Anthony McCarten
Should win: Little Women comes close here. I think the non-linear narrative in retelling this classic, and unfolding details from the past and present when they're emotionally in-sync worked really well, along with the modern-inspired character tweaks. However, Jojo Rabbit was near perfection. I believe Jojo Rabbit delivered in heaps with its heartwarming and heartbreaking story and characters, and its sincerity and hilarity, especially given the complicated setting, and historical relevance. It was an exceptional piece of writing—a complete departure from the anything else we’ve seen in a long time.
Will win: I think Jojo Rabbit will win here, even if it’s the only Oscar it wins. Though I still won't be surprised if Little Women takes it away.
Knives Out | Written by Rian Johnson
Marriage Story | Written by Noah Baumbach
1917 | Written by Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood | Written by Quentin Tarantino
Parasite | Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Won; Story by Bong Joon Ho
Should win: Marriage Story’s biggest strength is its writing, and if that had been lacking in any way, even terrific performances from the cast wouldn’t be able to do such wonders for the film. Yet, Parasite was a phenomenal piece of art, as it married genres with finesse, and presented such disturbing, and hilarious facets of the human condition. Hence, I believe it should win.
Will win: Parasite might not win best picture, but it will win an Oscar for its screenplay. Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood could come close.
Achievement In Cinematography
The Irishman | Rodrigo Prieto
Joker | Lawrence Sher
The Lighthouse | Jarin Blaschke
1917 | Roger Deakins
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood | Robert Richardson
If anyone other than Roger Deakins wins this, it’ll be quite surprising.
Achievement In Film Editing
Ford v Ferrari | Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland
The Irishman | Thelma Schoonmaker
Jojo Rabbit | Tom Eagles
Joker | Jeff Groth
Parasite | Yang Jinmo
Don’t be surprised if Parasite wins this, especially because of the thrilling last 30 minutes of the film. However, I think this is the one category where Ford v Ferrari is a strong contender, and it will turn out to be its solo Oscar win.
Achievement In Costume Design
The Irishman | Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
Jojo Rabbit | Mayes C. Rubeo
Joker | Mark Bridges
Little Women | Jacqueline Durran
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood | Arianne Phillips
The Irishman is a strong contender here, but I think the Academy’s love for older period pieces will make Little Women win this one.
Achievement In Makeup And Hairstyling
Bombshell | Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker
Joker | Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
Judy | Jeremy Woodhead
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil | Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten and David White
1917 | Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis and Rebecca Cole
I believe Joker stands a good chance at this. However, in recent years, the Academy has leaned in the favor of makeup and hairstyling that has had a significant impact on the re-creation of true-life personalities, and this year, we have two films here that do just that. So I believe it’ll be between Bombshell and Judy. And I believe the former will win, given the conversation that it has generated surrounding the portrayal of Megyn Kelly, even beyond Charlize Theron’s fantastic performance.
Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Joker | Hildur Guðnadóttir
Little Women | Alexandre Desplat
Marriage Story | Randy Newman
1917 | Thomas Newman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | John Williams
Again, one of the more predictable categories this year, this one is going to Joker. Though I would give it to 1917’s exceptional soundtrack that maintained the thrilling tone of the film throughout, and especially with the minimal dialogue it had.
Achievement In Music Written For Motion Pictures (Original Song)
‘I can't let you throw yourself away’ from Toy Story 4 | Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
‘(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again’ from Rocketman | Music by Elton John; Lyric by Bernie Taupin
‘I'm standing with you’ from Breakthrough | Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
‘Into the unknown’ from Frozen II | Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
‘Stand up’ from Harriet | Music and Lyric by Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo
I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘Stand up’ wins this. It could be the surprise winner of the evening. Yet, I do believe that this category belongs to Sir Elton John and his biopic this year.
Achievement In Production Design
The Irishman | Production Design: Bob Shaw; Set Decoration: Regina Graves
Jojo Rabbit | Production Design: Ra Vincent; Set Decoration: Nora Sopková
1917 | Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood | Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
Parasite | Production Design: Lee Ha Jun; Set Decoration: Cho Won Woo
This is a tough one. In my opinion, 1917 is the clear winner. However, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood and The Irishman stand a good chance. Between these two, the former is a stronger contender though. Yet, I think the Acacemy will go the 1917 way—not only because of the exemplary achievement in itself, but in a big way because of how important the environ is in the seemingly impossible journey that the soldiers embark upon.
Achievement In Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari | Donald Sylvester
Joker | Alan Robert Murray
1917 | Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood | Wylie Stateman
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | Matthew Wood and David Acord
Ford v Ferrari could win this, but I think 1917 will win for its outstanding audio experience, which was essential to the film’s impact in the long stretches of runtime without any dialogue.
Achievement In Sound Mixing
Ad Astra | Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano
Ford v Ferrari | Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Steven A. Morrow
Joker | Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic and Tod Maitland
1917 | Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson
Once upon a Time...in Hollywood | Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler and Mark Ulano
An absolute triumph in music and effects, 1917 will win this one for certain.
Achievement In Visual Effects
Avengers: Endgame | Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken and Dan Sudick
The Irishman | Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda-Fauser and Stephane Grabli
The Lion King | Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Elliot Newman
1917 | Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler and Dominic Tuohy
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach and Dominic Tuohy
The Academy tends to favor the re-creation of something real using visual effects, rather than the creation of something in the purely imaginative realm of science fiction or fantastical. This one is between The Lion King and 1917. I think the more ‘realistic’ of the two will take this home.
Best International Feature Film
Corpus Christi | Poland
Honeyland | North Macedonia
Les Misérables | France
Pain and Glory | Spain
Parasite | South Korea
If Parasite doesn’t win this, it’ll be the biggest shocker ever, considering that it has emerged as a strong contender for best picture even. This is among the most predictable categories this year.
Best Animated Feature Film
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Toy Story 4
Best Documentary Feature
The Edge of Democracy
Best Documentary Short Subject
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk Run Cha-Cha
Best Animated Short Film
Best Live Action Short Film
Nefta Football Club
The Neighbors' Window