Here we are again; the finale to every awards season and the only awards show I actually watch. Yet, by most predictions, this year seems like a foregone conclusion if you ask any of the experts, betting markets, or amateur followers like myself. Over the last few years, we seem to be herding our opinions more and more, and that may produce one of the more boring Oscars telecasts in recent memory.
That is especially heartbreaking to me as a fan because this was one of the best years of movies I can remember in a long time, and certainly one of the closest best picture races in my opinion since Spotlight won in 2015. Thus, without further ado, my predictions and alternate opinions:
Should win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Will win: 1917
At this point, almost everyone is calling this race over after 1917 swept the Globes, PGA, DGA, and BAFTAs. However, I've thought for most of the season that Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece was finally going to be the one to break through and win him the Oscar for both Best Director and Best Picture. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is such a wonderfully crafted movie that uses Tarantino's fictional history style to tell his version of a Hollywood fairytale. Personally, I believe it is both my favorite of his movies (followed shortly by Reservoir Dogs and Inglorious Basterds) as well as his best. That being said, unlike many other years, I really don't have a major issue with 1917 winning since it was a close second on my list of best films this year.
Should win: Quentin Tarantino/Bong Joon Ho (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood/Parasite)
Will win: Sam Mendes (1917)
Again, I don't really have a complaint against Sam Mendes since I think 1917 is a masterpiece of war thriller genre movies (although not as good in my opinion as Dunkirk), but I simply believe there were better jobs done by both Ho and Tarantino that could garner a joint awarding. All of Tarantino's movies are completely his own from the script, to the cinematography, to the acting, and on down the line, and he needs to be recognized by the Academy for his contributions to directing (not just writing) especially since we have no idea how his presumed last movie is going to turn out not to mention that I also think this is his best movie yet.
Similarly, I also feel that Bong Joon Ho performed a masterclass of directing in Parasite. The acting was all spot on, the editing is crisp and should be awarded itself, the set design and feel of the movie was well done, the score perfectly complimented the film, and, most of all, Ho performs a technical feat that may have been lost with another director. One of the best things about Parasite is its ability to transform itself into three different and distinct acts that seamlessly jump between genres: act one is a heist/con-artist comedy, act two is almost horror-thriller-esque, and act three is a crime drama. Just on that alone, Ho needs recognition as a master of the craft.
Should win: Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
Will win: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
While Phoenix does give an impressive performance in this role, it is certainly not his best acting job (the Master), he isn't even the best version of the character (Heath Ledger), and this feels a lot like the other times the academy rewarded a fantastic actor(ess) for their body of work more than that specific role; i.e. Dicaprio winning for the Revenant, Gary Oldman winning for Darkest Hour, and Pacino winning for The Scent of a Woman.
Meanwhile, Adam Driver seems to get better with each role he is in, and, to me, transcended the role he was given. Yes, a lot of this is due to writing and direction, but Driver to me was one of the few 3D acting jobs this year due to the wide variety of emotions he had to capture while subtly not going over the top like Phoenix seems to.
Should win: Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
Will win: Renee Zellwegger (Judy)
Again, I believe that this will end up being an example of us confusion acting for impersonation. Too often anymore, we have awarded people for inhabiting people we can easily compare them against (Capote, Milk, Lincoln, Ray, Walk the Line, Bohemian Rhapsody, etc.). my opthis is an achievement, it is my opinion that it is harder still to give meaningful life and resonance to a character that was originally crafted. Moreover, Marriage Story was always a tale of the two leads, and the film wouldn't have worked so well without incredible performances by both of them.
Best Supporting Actor
Should win: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Will win: Brad Pitt
This is finally one where my opinion matches the seeming lock on the academy voting. Pitt has previous Oscars for producing, but gets his acting recognition here for one of the great characters and performances of last decade.
Best Supporting Actress
Should win: Scarlett Johansson (JoJo Rabbit)
Will win: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
Laura Dern has perfected the same type of character over and over to the point that it is another lock to win for her this time, but this wasn't even her best supporting role this year (see Little Women). However, for me, this was the year of Scar-Jo. Her turn as Jojo's mother in many ways made the film. I would personally vote for her in both categories this year for different movies plus she was also in the highest-grossing movie of all-time. It doesn't get much better than that.
Should win: Roger Deakins (1917)
Will win: Roger Deakins (1917)
Just a living legend being a living legend. Deakins is the only cinematographer I can even name off-hand, and that's for a reason. This is one of the most beautifully shot movies I've ever seen.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Should win: Greta Gerwig (Little Women)
Will win: Taika Waititi (JoJo Rabbit)
This is where some of the toughest choices for me came in. 8 of the 9 films for best picture were ones that I thoroughly enjoyed almost all of which were made by several of the next great generation of directors. I certainly won't quibble with what Waititi does here as what he did was absolutely brilliant in making such a deep topic so endlessly funny, but Gerwig's ability to take a story that has been told numerous times and make it both fresh and modern are absolute perfection. I am all in on whatever these two make going forward.
Best Original Screenplay
Should win: Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)
Will win: either Bong Joon Ho or Quentin Tarantino
Again, this is an absolutely stacked category for me, but Baumbach needs to be recognized for how insanely well he writes his characters. He is not likely to get an award here, but both he and his partner Greta Gerwig have awards gold in their near future.
Should win: Parasite
Will win: Parasite
As stated above, the editing is absolutely crisp in this as it is insane how well this transitions from one act to the next without ever feeling like it has a wasted moment.
Best Makeup and Hair-styling
Should win: Bombshell
Will win: Bombshell
I have to be completely honest here; Charlize Theron would not be up for best actress without her hair and makeup team. No offense to her performance, but many of us gave her extra points because we couldn't tell if it was her or the actual Megan Kelly.
Best Production Design
Should win: 1917
Will win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Tarantino's movie are endlessly stylish and picturesque in how they capture a time period, but you only need to walk in and out of 1917's massive foxholes a few times before you marvel at the incredible mastery and craftsmanship needed to make that movie what it was.
Should win: Either 1917 or Marriage Story
Will win: Joker
This is probably the only award for Joker that I wouldn't have a big issue with. However, I thought both 1917 and especially Marriage Story were complimented better by their scores and what they both added to their respective films. Marriage Story's whimsically complicated yet emotionally scarring score and 1917's subtly thrilling and suffocating score were absolute treats this year.
Best Original Song
Should win: Elton John and Bernie Taupin (Rocketman)
Will win: Elton John and Bernie Taupin (Rocketman)
What can you further say about another couple of living legends? It'll be fun watching Elton perform, and he and Bernie collecting another award for the mantle.
Best Sound Mixing and Editing (two awards)
Should win: Ford v. Ferrari
Will win: 1917
Nothing against 1917 here, but Ford v. Ferrari's high grade engines sound incredible here.
Best Visual Effects
Should win: Avengers: Endgame
Will win: 1917
1917 might sweep the technical awards, but Avengers should win here. It was by far the biggest spectacle movie of the year, and it was high on my personal list because of the degree of difficulty this movie had to pull off yet got so right.
Best Animated Feature
Should win: Klaus
Will win: Toy Story 4
Probably the fourth best Toy Story against a wholly original and wonderful movie. Pixar has to start be judged against itself so that we can occasionally get a few more into the crowd.
Best Documentary Feature
Should win: American Factory
Will win: American Factory
Best International Film
Should win: Parasite
Will win: Parasite
This is about as big a slam dunk winner here as Toy Story 3 was the year is was nominated for Best Picture and then won Best Animated Feature.
There you have it folks. I'll write a follow-up after the awards to see how many I got right.