Predicting This Year’s Biggest Oscar Races

Best Visual Effects

“Avengers: Endgame”, “The Lion King”, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, “The Irishman”, “1917”

Who will win: The Irishman

Who should win: The Irishman

The Irishman is nothing if not a monumental achievement in filmmaking. The de-aging technology used in the film resulted in multiple delays and a ballooning budget that made most studios completely unwilling to bankroll the film other than Netflix even with the sheer star power of the names attached. Looking back on it, a 3 and a half hour epic using de-aging technology to turn back the clock 30+ years on its 70+ year-old stars was a risky gamble for Netflix, but it’s paid off in spades. And the de-aging technology itself looks seamless and fantastic. The implications on the future of filmmaking now that The Irishman has been such a success are boundless.

Best Cinematography

1917: Roger Deakins, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Robert Richardson, The Irishman: Rodrigo Prieto, Joker: Lawrence Sher: The Lighthouse, Jarin BlaschkeL

Who will win: Roger Deakins: 1917

Who should win: Jarin Blaschke: The Lighthouse

Out of all of the awards, none seem like more of a lock than Roger Deakins taking home his second Oscar for Best Cinematography. It’s totally fair to be frank and say this just feels straight-up inevitable. It’s hard to disagree with it too, the man filmed a war epic as a one-shot movie. The medium of film has been around for over 100 years and people like Roger Deakins still find ways to tell stories in new ways. But, allow me to take the contrarian position and go to bat for someone else. Jarin Blaschke’s work on The Lighthouse was nothing short of masterful. Cinematography isn’t just a collection of pretty stills and shots, the best cinematographers use the camera to inform and add to the story with every subtle move they make. By filming The Lighthouse in a box aspect ratio Blaschke does exactly that. From the jump, this is a claustrophobic movie, not just in a physical setting, but with the camera too. Seeing this on the big screen only adds to it. Deakins’ work in 1917 is revolutionary for sure, but in The Lighthouse Blaschke finds new ways to use old tricks and masterfully tell one of the tensest and engrossing stories of the year.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, Al Pacino, “The Irishman”, Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”, Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”

Who will win: Brad Pitt: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Who should win: Brad Pitt: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Outside of maybe cinematography and international Feature, this is the award that feels the most like a lock. Pitt is absolutely electrifying as the uber-cool stunt man and DiCaprio’s best friend in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This is the best acting job of Pitt’s career and it’s long past due for him to take home an award for his performances. While he’s been nominated for four acting awards, he’s never won one yet, that’s going to change during this year’s ceremony. If I had to predict an upset, my money would be on Pesci for his transcendent work in The Irishman, but ultimately this is going to be Pitt’s award.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Laura Dern: Marriage Story, Margot Robbie: Bombshell, Florence Pugh: Little Women, Scarlett Johansson: Jojo Rabbit, Kathy Bates: Richard Jewell

Who will win: Laura Dern: Marriage Story

Who should win: Laura Dern: Marriage Story

Laura Dern is one of the greatest actresses working in Hollywood and it’s pretty shocking that she has never won an Oscar and only nominated three times (HOW WAS SHE NOT EVEN NOMINATED FOR INLAND EMPIRE). This year is the year the Academy rectifies itself and gives Dern her first Oscar. This isn’t the best performance of Dern’s career, it’s not even close. But she is a force to be reckoned with in every scene she’s in, chewing up all of the scenery she possibly can.

Best Adapted Screenplay

“The Irishman”, “Jojo Rabbit”, “Little Women”, “The Two Popes”, “Joker”

Who will win: Little Women

Who should win: Little Women

First of all, Gretta Gerwig was absolutely robbed for a Best Director nomination, her work with Little Women was nothing short of amazing and her script is a huge part of that. Adapting such a classic piece of literature is no small undertaking, and finding the balance between updating it for a modern audience and staying true to the source material is something very few films have actually gotten right. Gerwig knocks it out of the park here, she brings a modern resonance and flair to a classic story in a way that feels fresh and superbly executed. She was previously nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for 2017’s Lady Bird.

Best Original Screenplay

“Marriage Story”, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, “Parasite”, “Knives Out”, “1917”

Who will win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Who should win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Tarantino is one of the best screenwriters we’ve ever had and there’s no reason to think he won’t be collecting his third screenwriting Oscar this weekend. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood sees Tarantino at the top of his game and the only real competition he has is Baumbach with Marriage Story who is also at the top of his game and his most vulnerable. But at the end of the day there’s just no denying just how brilliant Tarantino’s script was for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it’s both impressive how he can continue to crank out such consistently fantastic scripts this far into his career and he’ll be rewarded for it on Sunday night.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Joaquin Phoenix: “Joker”, Adam Driver: “Marriage Story”, Leonardo DiCaprio: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, Antonio Banderas: “Pain and Glory”, Jonathan Pryce: “The Two Popes”

Who will win: Jouquin Phoenix, Joker

Who should win: Leonardo DiCaprio: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Phoenix is fantastic and unhinged in Joker, if he wins the award for Best Actor it’s very well deserved (even if he should have won for The Master back in 2012), but in my opinion, DiCaprio was just way too good to not reward. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this is by far my favorite DiCaprio performance. He’s transcendent as a washed-up and alcoholic has-been actor struggling to come to terms with his declining career amidst the changes of a new Hollywood. The fact that DiCaprio turned this in immediately after winning his first Oscar for 2015’s The Revenant is truly amazing. He’s every bit as captivating, hysterical, and enthralling to watch as you could possibly imagine.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

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

Who will win: Renée Zellweger: Judy

Who should win: Lupita Nyong’o: Us

Truth be told I actually haven’t seen Judy, but the buzz seems to be that it’s an okay movie that features a great performance from Zellweger. The Oscars have a history of not rewarding actors and actresses who give original performances and instead awarding people who just give an interesting portrayal of a famous person. This is a mistake, especially in a year when Lupita Nyong’o was so riveting in Us. It’s an absolute crime she wasn’t even nominated for Best Actress as nothing in Us works if she isn’t at the top of her game. She’s given the impossible task of creating two distinct and by nature polar opposite characters. Jordan Peele’s script is pretty good, but it just flat out wouldn’t work if it wasn’t in the hands of such a capable actress. Nyong’o is at the top of her creative game in Us and gave an incredible performance in Us, and it’s the kind the academy should be recognizing.

Best Director

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

Who will win: Sam Mendes: 1917

Who should win: Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite

As good as 1917 is Sam Mendes absolutely does not deserve win Best Director. This is Deakins’ movie through and through and he’s going to be rewarded for that when he picks up his second Oscar (on his 15th nomination) for his work behind the camera. Instead, Bong Joon-Ho should be properly lauded for his masterful work on Parasite. The Oscars are usually very bad about rewarding people for their best work in the moment, oftentimes giving them a “make up Oscar” later (see Pacino losing in 1974 for Godfather Part II, Del Toro losing in 2006 for Pan’s Labyrinth, Scorsese not winning anything until 2006’s The Departed, the list goes on and on). Giving Bong Joon-Ho the award for Best Director would be a true validation of his incredible work on Parasite crafting a brilliant and timely story that sees one of cinema’s most fascinating directors recognized for their best work in the moment.

Best Picture

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

Who will win: 1917

Who should win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Parasite

As far as Best Picture years go, I feel like this year is actually pretty good. With the notable exception of Ford V. Ferrari (which I still think is a pretty fun movie), these are all really great films who are worthy of being nominated. Conventional wisdom suggests that 1917 is probably going to walk away with Best Picture at the end of the night, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a war epic, the kind of film that Hollywood loves to award at the Oscars, and it’s shot in an extremely flashy and unique way. 1917 is a great movie, if (when) it wins it won’t be joining 2018’s Green Book or 2004’s Crash in the shitty Oscar movie hall of fame. But that also doesn’t mean it isn’t an extremely boring and predictable pick for Best Picture. I firmly believe that this award needs to go to either Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Parasite. Both of these films have a lot more to say on culture and where we are going as a society than 1917 does and both of them are just all-around better films. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the most restrained and focused work of Tarantino’s career. He wrongly lost out on Best Picture back in 1994 when Forrest Gump upset Pulp Fiction and has never won one. Once Upon a Time In Hollywood is his best movie since Pulp Fiction and it’s a brilliant commentary on Hollywood past and present. Parasite is the rare international film that has broken through into mainstream American consciousness. It’s a fantastic film and sees Bong Joon-Ho at the peak of his creative prowess. It’s an incredible story about class, division, and so much more. Over the entire history of the Oscars only ten films, foreign-language films have ever been nominated for Best Picture with none ever winning. If ever there was a year for this to change it would be this year with Parasite.

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