Predictions Friday – Fasten Your Seatbelts for a Wide Open Race

There are various versions of this year’s Oscar race. There are a lot of angles being covered and no clear consensus, at least as far as I can tell, among the pundits. That’s because there are so many unanswered questions, so many factors putting pressure on how this race goes.

Social media has made it much worse because once you take a stand – you sort of have to defend your stand. Tribes begin to form around certain films. Bad intel rides the rails and get passed on from person to person. These aren’t even whisper campaigns by now because these can be said OUT LOUD by people who are publicists or assistants to publicists cloaked in anonymity spreading ideas and opinions and outrages on Twitter. It isn’t hard to start something. Heck, how do you think Trump got elected?

But the Academy is, thankfully, not plugged into Twitter. They might hear things through the grapevine but the Twitter angle is to influence people who cover the race and then perhaps that trickles down eventually to the Academy. The problem now is that there are too many complaints swirling around, too many conflicting ideas so it’s created chaos as far as the race goes. We also don’t have any REAL intel right now on what films the voters — not the critics, not the bloggers, not even the festival goers but the thousands of people in the industry who vote on the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and SAG/AFTRA.

Theory number one: It’s The Irishman’s to beat – a film like this doesn’t come along very often and Scorsese is an American treasure. Actor driven, mesmerizing epic about one glance back on a conflicted life of crime and family.

Theory number two: No other film can win besides Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Tarantino’s amazing career has yet to be awarded with a Best Director or Best Picture prize. The crowd pleasing nostalgic ode to the city and industry that made Tarantino, it’s his third installment of a revenge trilogy that targets that which haunts us – Nazis, slavery and the Manson murders.

Theory number three: No other film can beat Jojo Rabbit. While it might be inspiring a sharply mixed reaction, that isn’t coming from how good or not good the film is but rather whether people can get over the high satire enough to be moved by the story. Does any other film come with such a hit of pure joy as this one? Let’s laugh, let’s dance and let’s take our power back from a world on fire.

Theory number four – it’s none of these but rather a stealthy, under-the-radar movie nobody is looking at but everyone likes and many love and no one hates and that film is James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari. The movie that wins isn’t AWLAYS one with a hard-hitting message, sometimes just plain good movies win. Has there been a film more satisfying than this one? It is a celebration of what the American film industry does best, and serves to justify why we still need movies to be made for adult people – real stories, real people.

Theory number five – it’s none of these. It’s the war movie no one has seen. It’s going to take the season with the kind of shock and awe that only a war epic can.

It’s hard to sit with uncertainty. It’s hard to have so many people covering a race that no one knows anything about. We’re all sort of flailing around with theories.

Here’s the truth: we won’t know until we know because there is no frontrunner and one of the reasons for that is some of these films haven’t yet opened to the public so we only know the very controlled reaction in screenings — but not what people “out there in the world” think and what people “out there in the world” think is a better guide than the insular one, at least in terms of finding winners.

Films I think are being / could be underestimated:
Ford v Ferrari
Dolemite is My Name

My only advice is this: try to keep an open mind.

But let’s just do it anyway – I’ll take a blind guess on how I think it MIGHT go.

Best Picture

My idea of solid Best Picture nominees – defined as films that will likely get 200-300 number one votes. Remember, divisiveness doesn’t come into play with nominations for Best Picture, just when it comes to winning.

These are those I feel most confident about – as in, there will be a lot of people who pick these films as their number one:

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – acting, writing, directing + crafts
The Irishman – acting, writing, directing + crafts
Jojo Rabbit -acting, writing, directing + crafts
Parasite – writing, directing, maybe acting, maybe crafts
Ford v Ferrari – maybe acting, probably writing, maybe directing + crafts
Marriage Story – acting, writing, maybe directing

Films I’m PRETTY sure about on a hunch
Joker – acting, maybe writing, maybe directing + crafts
Bombshell – acting, maybe writing, maybe directing + crafts
Dolemite is My Name – acting, writing + crafts
Waves – maybe acting, maybe writing

Holding a place for:
1917 – writing, directing, maybe acting, + crafts

Films I am not sure about but can’t write off:
Little Women – acting, writing, maybe directing + crafts
The Two Popes – acting, writing, maybe directing
Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – acting
Knives Out – maybe acting, maybe writing
Harriet – acting
Richard Jewell – maybe acting, maybe writing, maybe directing
Hustlers – acting
The Farewell – acting, maybe writing, maybe directing

Best Director – Frontrunner
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Bong Joon-Ho, Parasite
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Holding a spot for:
Sam Mendes, 1917

But watch out for:
James Mangold, Ford v Ferrari
Todd Phillips, Joker
Pedro Almodovar, Pain and Glory
Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Lulu Wang, The Farewell
Trey Edward Shults, Waves

Best Actor – frontrunners
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Robert De Niro, The Irishman
Eddie Murphy, Dolemite is My Name

Also strong contenders
Adam Sandler, Marriage Story
Antonio Bandares, Pain and Glory
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit

Best Actress – frontrunners
Renee Zellweger, Judy
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Lupita Nyong’o, Us

But watch out for:
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Awkwafina, The Farewell
Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim

Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Tom Hanks, Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Wesley Snipes, Dolemite is My Name
Tracy Letts, Ford v Ferrari

But watch out for
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Jamie Foxx, Just Mercy
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy
Zack Gottsagen, The Peanut Butter Falcon
Alan Alda, Marriage Story
John Lithgow, Bombshell

Original Screenplay – frontrunners
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino
Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach
Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho, Jin Won Han
Dolemite is My Name, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Ford V. Ferrari , Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth

Holding a spot for
1917, Sam Mendez, Krysty Wilson-Cairns

Watch out for:
Us, Jordan Peele
Queen & Slim, Lena Waithe
Bombshell, Charles Randolph
Waves, Trey Edward Shultz
The Farewell, Lulu Wang

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi
The Irishman, Steve Zaillian
The Two Popes, Anthony McCarten
Little Women, Greta Gerwig
Joker, Todd Phillips, Scott Silver

Cinematography – frontrunners

1917 – sight unseen
A Hidden Life
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Ford V. Ferrari
The Irishman

But watch out for:
Ad Astra
Little Women
The Aeronauts

Ford v Ferarri
The Irishman
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

But watch out for:
Jojo Rabbit

Production Design
1917 – sight unseen
The Irishman
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Ford V. Ferrari
Jojo Rabbit

But watch out for:
The Aeronauts
Little Women
Ad Astra

Sound Mixing
Ford v Ferrari
1917 – sight unseen
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Avengers: Endgame

But watch out for:
The Lion King

Sound Editing
Ford v Ferarri
1917 – sight unseen
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Avengers: Endgame
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Costume Design
Dolemite is My Name
The Irishman
Little Women
The Aeronauts

Animated Feature
Toy Story 4
Frozen II
Missing Link
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Documentary Feature
Apollo 11
Sea of Shadows
Citizen K
American Factory
For Sama

But watch out for:
The Edge of Democracy
The Apollo

Foreign Language Feature
Parasite, South Korea
Pain & Glory, Spain
Les Misérables, France
The Boy Who Harnassed the Wind, UK
Beanpole, Russia

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