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Breaking down which films have the best chances of being nominated for the top awards in this year’s Oscars

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by KRISTOFER PURNELL

Oscars 2020

This year will have a very interesting Oscars race. Never mind that Disney is dominating the box office and controlling most of Hollywood, it’s Netflix who dominated 2019 with spectacular films across multiple genres. With three major contenders in—The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes—one can expect Netflix to make the huge leap of being the first streamer to win Best Picture (it nearly did last year with Roma, but an upset win by Green Book put an end to that dream).

But it’s not just Netflix who had a big year. Ever since Parasite premiered and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, it’s been sweeping critics and audiences off their feet and picking up trophies everywhere it went. Pain and Glory signified a career best from director Pedro Almodovar and actor Antonio Banderas, capping off what may be the best year for international film on the grand stage.

With the nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards set to be announced tonight, a lot of discussions are being done about which films will make the final cut. Will the Academy underuse their 10 slots for Best Picture? Will any woman be nominated for Best Director or in any of the Screenplay awards? Is another #OscarSoWhite year upon us? There’s a lot to break down, and it is a gruelling competition for the top awards alone.

Parasite

Parasite

BEST PICTURE
Predicted nominees
● Ford v Ferrari
● The Irishman
● Joker
● Marriage Story
● 1917
● Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
● Parasite
● The Two Popes

Potential contenders
● Bombshell
● The Farewell
● Jojo Rabbit
● Knives Out
● Little Women

Since making the rule change of increasing Best Picture nominees from five to 10 in 2009, the Academy has only named 10 nominees twice—the 2010 and 2011 ceremonies. The number has circled between nine and eight since then, and that may continue for 2020. Netflix’s three hits, Parasite, and all the major contenders will be there like Sam Mendes’ World War I film 1917Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and comic book film Joker. Just sitting on the border is sports film Ford v Ferrari by James Mangold, which could easily be replaced or joined by the likes of the satirical Jojo Rabbit and whodunnit film Knives Out. In terms of diversity, expect Little WomenBombshell, and Asian ensemble film The Farewell to be on voters’ radars.

Sam Mendes 1917

Sam Mendes directing 1917

BEST DIRECTOR
Predicted nominees:
● Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story
● Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite
● Sam Mendes for 1917
● Martin Scorsese for The Irishman
● Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Potential contenders:
● Pedro Almadovar for Pain and Glory
● Greta Gerwig for Little Women
● Rian Johnson for Knives Out
● Fernando Meirelles for The Two Popes
● Todd Phillips for Joker
● Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit
● Lulu Wang for The Farewell

This is where things begin to get messy. It is almost impossible to see Martin Scorsese’s name not be included in the Best Director list after The Irishman, and fellow veteran Tarantino is another certain nomination. There will be celebrations when Bong Joon-Ho’s name is announced, but criticism will be called if Mendes and Noah Baumbach round up the shortlist to make it another all-male category—the best chance a female director will be nominated is Greta Gerwig for Little Women, but even she has to knock the likes of Joker’s Todd Phillips and The Two Popes’ Fernando Meirelles. Again, messy.

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

BEST ACTOR
Predicted nominees:
● Robert de Niro for The Irishman
● Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
● Adam Driver for Marriage Story
● Joaquin Phoenix for Joker
● Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes

Potential contenders:
● Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory
● Taron Egerton for Rocketman
● Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name
● Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems

Things will remain messy when the Best Actor category comes, because the chances of having an all-white list is very high. Shoo-ins here are Joaquin Phoenix for Joker and Leonardo di Caprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and a career-best from Star Wars graduate Adam Driver in Marriage Story can mark him safe. The final two spots are a toss-up between The Irishman’s Robert de Niro, Rocketman’s Taron EgertonThe Two Popes’ Jonathan Pryce, and Pain and Glory’s Antonio Banderas. It’s hard to see a veteran like de Niro not be in the question, and both Pryce and Banderas also had career-best in their films. Egerton’s chances bank on how much voters can remember given how early Rocketman was released last year. The best chance of avoiding an all-white category is seeing Eddie Murphy being honored after a comeback performance in Dolemite Is My Name. And yes you read it right, Adam Sandler is a potential contender.

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

Cynthia Erivo in Harriet

BEST ACTRESS
Predicted nominees:
● Cynthia Erivo for Harriet
● Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story
● Lupita Nyong’o for Us
● Charlize Theron for Bombshell
● Renee Zellweger for Judy

Potential contenders:
● Awkwafina for The Farewell
● Saoirse Ronan for Little Women

Diversity is less of an issue in the Best Actress category, but still very interesting given who the contenders are. Shoo-ins include Judy’s Renee ZellwegerBombshell’s Charlize Theron, and—funny but quite deservingly—Marriage Story’s Scarlett JohanssonCynthia Erivo churned out a stunning performance in Harriet and may complete her EGOT (she has already won Emmy, Grammy, and Tonny awards). She may also be the only non-white nominee because Us starring Academy favorite Lupita Nyong’o was one of the first movies released in 2019, and she’s up against other Academy favorite Saoirse Ronan whose film Little Women was a Christmas release. At the end of the pack is The Farewell’s Awkwafina, making it another exciting Best Actress race.

Al Pacino in The Irishman

Al Pacino in The Irishman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Predicted nominees
● Anthony Hopkins for The Two Popes
● Al Pacino for The Irishman
● Joe Pesci for The Irishman
● Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
● Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit

Potential contenders:
● Willem Dafoe for The Lighthouse
● Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
● Song Kang-Ho for Parasite

The Supporting Actor list looks pretty locked already, with veterans like The Two Popes’ Anthony Hopkins and The Irishman’s Al Pacino and Joe Pesci leading the charge alongside Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’s Brad Pitt. However the Academy may be dropping hints by having John Cho hosting the nominations announcement, signalling that perhaps an acting nomination opens up Parasite’s Song Kang-Ho. That puts the likes of Jojo Rabbit’s Taika WaititiA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’s Tom Hanks, and The Lighthouse’s Willem Dafoe in a very tough fight for challenging Kang-Ho for the fifth spot.

Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers

Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Predicted nominees:
● Kathy Bates for Richard Jewell
● Laura Dern for Marriage Story
● Nicole Kidman for Bombshell
● Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers
● Margot Robbie for Bombshell

Potential contenders:
● Scarlett Johansson for Jojo Rabbit
● Margot Robbie for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

What is being discussed more in the Supporting Actress race is who shouldn’t be nominated, in the spirit of fairness. Johansson can already be certified a Best Actress nomination, so she doesn’t necessarily need one for her supporting role in Jojo Rabbit. Meanwhile Margot Robbie has two performances up for consideration, it would be unjust to give her twice the chances of winning when you have someone like Jennifer Lopez fighting for a diverse category after a stellar performance in Hustlers.

Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Predicted nominees:
● Frozen 2
 How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World
● I Lost My Body
● Toy Story 4
● Weathering With You

Potential contenders:
● Abominable
● Klaus
● The Lion King
● Missing Link

Did you know that “live-action remake” of The Lion King can be nominated for Best Animated Film? Since nothing in the movie was actually live, and everything was created on the computer, it can technically be nominated here. All the same, it may not stand a chance against the likes of fellow Disney competitors Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2How To Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World is assured of a place given how it capped off the popular Dreamworks franchise, and a surprise nominee will be Netflix’s I Lost My Body given how the French film blended 2D and 3D animation to outstanding results. The fifth nomination is a toss-up between other Netflix contender Klaus, Laika’s dark horse contender Missing Link, and beloved anime film .

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