The only time a Pixar film has lost in this categoryâMonsters, Inc. to Shrek back in 2002âwas the only time one deserved to win. This was no upset given Shrekâs success at the time, but the box office giant doesnât always win here. Case in point: Spirited Awayâs welcome victory in 2003 against Ice Age, Lilo and Stitch, Treasure Planet, and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. This gives us hope that Happy Feet and Monster House, the only nominees that deserve to be here, could pull off victories. Given Happy Feetâs environmental concerns and very liberal message about personal identity, a victory for the George Miller film would complement a win for An Inconvenient Truth (and last yearâs triumph for March of the Penguins), but Cars, in addition to raking in more cash, has won the most precursor awards, including the Golden Globe, and has the higher (and fishier) IMDB rating, suggesting that the same people who accused the film of being a considerable step down for Pixar after Finding Nemo are still willing to give the studio the benefit of the doubt for sub-par product. Also, Carsâs nine Annie nominations imply that Pixar has the approval of the animation community (Happy Feet scored two and Monster House eight). But animators arenât the only ones who vote in this category, meaning if the average Academy member votes with his or her heart, Happy Feet may just prevail. For now, though, the pull of the Pixar hype machine may be too fierce for Millerâs penguins to weather.
Will Win: Cars
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing
Itâs not difficult to rationalize picking the same film to win both sound editing and sound mixing.
The movement to merge the two Oscar categories for sound into just one is finally picking up some steam after an academy subcommittee favored consolidation in December, but we regret to inform you that the exceptionally rational decision hasnât yet been ratified, and thus wonât spare us one more year of double-feature kvetching. While the nominating members of the sound branch might know the exact difference between sound mixing and sound editing, and while compulsory Oscar blogging has forced us to know the exact difference as well, numerous academy members clearly donât.
Case in point: Last year they awarded Bohemian Rhapsody its expected award in sound mixing, where musicals always have an advantage, but also an upset win in sound editing. Unless voters metabolized Singerâs violent blitzkrieg of a film and simply misremembered hearing explosions throughout, thatâs not the vote of an informed electorate.
From our perspective as prognosticators, though, itâs not difficult to rationalize picking the same film to win both awards, especially in the absence of a musical. While there have been plenty of years weâve carbon-copied our predicted winner in both categories only to see them split (even three ways, as in 2012, when Les MisĂ©rables took sound mixing, and Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty tied for sound editing), getting one prediction right is better than getting none at all, especially in a year like this where, to judge from both slates, sound equals fury.
One thingâs fairly certain: You can probably go ahead and count out Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Not only has the new trilogy failed to add any more Oscar wins to the franchise, never once has a Star Wars film won an award for its sound effects, not even the first one (that year, a special award was given to Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Episodes seven and eight lost to, respectively, a chase movie and a war movie, and this yearâs top two contenders here are arguably the exact same pairing. While 1917 is still considered by many to be a frontrunner for best picture, weâre pretty sure the onslaught of vintage motors roaring for the climactic quarter-hour of Ford v. Ferrari will get voters right in the dad spot.
Will Win: Ford v. Ferrari
Could Win: 1917
Should Win: Ford v. Ferrari
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Animated Feature
Completist-prone Oscar prognosticators were dealt a merciful hand last week when the Oscar nominations were announced and Frozen II didnât show up in this category. But the winning hand belongs to Toy Story 4, which likely lost the Golden Globe to Missing Link as a result of a vote split between the two Disney properties. Sentiment to reward the American-based production studio Laika is brewing, and the fitfully droll Missing Link will, like Kubo and the Two Strings before it, probably find favor at the BAFTAs, but Laikaâs latest and most expensive production to date dramatically bombed at the box office. And while no one will be weighing between the film and I Lost My Body, a singularly and actively morose and creepy film that wonât appeal to the academy at large, this categoryâs short history tells us that the Mouse House is only vulnerable to the biggest money makers. Also, Forky rules.
Will Win: Toy Story 4
Could Win: Missing Link
Should Win: I Lost My Body
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actor
Pitt winning here will seem like the stars are lining up given what went down when he was first nominated in 1995.
We didnât predict Anthony Hopkins to get nominated here, thinking that the Golden Globesâs enthusiasm for The Two Popes was a fluke. We were wrong, and he ended up becoming the elder statesman in an acting lineup that contains, on average, by far the oldest nominees. The person we predicted to get in instead, Marriage Storyâs Alan Alda, is a year older than Hopkins, so we certainly werenât betting the farm on any male ingĂ©nues.
On the other hand, it sure feels like spry 56-year-old Brad Pitt, who opened his acceptance speech at last nightâs SAG Awards with a joke about having a Tinder profile, had this award in the bag the moment his Marlboro Man-ish handyman hopped atop his buddyâs roof to fix the antenna in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, whipping off his shirt to reveal a tawny, fully-abbed torso that scarcely seems to have aged in the nearly 30 years since he seduced the country in Thelma & Louise. He, as Leonardo DiCaprioâs co-lead, has a lot more to do throughout than just doff tees, but the âIâm still hereâ virility of that moment embodies the entire filmâs love letter to old-guard masculinity in Tinseltown.
Not that anyoneâs reading too deeply into it, not when thereâs good old-fashioned awards numerology to fall back on. Within minutes of the nominations being announced, Oscar Twitter jumped on the fact that the best supporting actor slate this year is composed of acting winners from 1990 (Joe Pesci), 1991 (Anthony Hopkins), 1992 (Al Pacino), and 1993 and 1994 (Tom Hanks). Fewer pointed out that Pitt was also a nominee in 1995 for 12 Monkeys, losing out to the now-canceled Kevin Spacey. Which makes it seem all the more poetically like the stars are lining up when Pitt wins for a film whose finale proposes a rousing bit of alternate, corrective history in which the âgoodâ guys obliterate the âbadâ ones.
Will Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Could Win: Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Should Win: Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Documentary Feature
Every film nominated in this category grapples with the nature of freedom in a world gripped by war and shaped by technology.
Few Oscar categories are bigger snub magnets than this one. And while the failure of Apollo 11 to secure a nomination this year was indeed surprising, it was not as telling as the omission of The Biggest Little Farm, a handsomely, if conspicuously, sculpted âpopâ documentary thatâs very much in the academyâs wheelhouse. It was almost as if the committee responsible for selecting the nominees here was sending a message by embracing, at a time of increased global instability, five documentaries that looked only outward: not at mankindâs possibilities, but at the ways in which weâve become our own worst enemy.
When discussing the potential winner in this category, Eric and I were pulled in two different directions. âDoc will go American Factory and, by extension, the Obamas, right?â Eric asked. âHoneyland notched an Oscar record by being the first documentary to also be nominated for international feature. That has to mean something?â I asked. Which is to say that he and I, no strangers to this Oscar-predicting process, were sacrificing ourselves to rigamarole, forgetting that, at the end of the day, academy members vote with their hearts above all else.
Every film nominated in this category grapples with the nature of freedom in a world gripped by war and shaped by technology. American Factory specifically takes the closing of a Chinese-owned factory in Ohio as a jumping-off point for a study of the wiles of global capitalism, and itâs every bit as smart as you might expect from a film produced by the Obamas. A more sobering reminder of how the global order of the world has been cataclysmically disrupted in the last four years is another Netflix documentary, The Edge of Democracy, about Brazilâs own national(ist) sickness. Itâs a harrowing lament, but it offers the viewer no sense of escape.
Which isnât to say that the The Cave and especially For Sama, both filmed in Syria and in the midst of war there, are escapist. The two most viscerally powerful documentaries in the category confront us with the chaos of imperial domination. Both films center the female experience of war, but For Sama does so more shrewdly, positing itself not just as a chronicle of war, but an act of remembrance. In a film that doesnât lack for gut-wrenching images of the dead, one particularly stands out: of a child, after being pulled from his motherâs womb via C section in the wake of a bombing, being brought back to life. Combined with the scenes depicting the citizens of war-torn Aleppo finding humor in the midst of conflict, the film attests not only to the perseverance of the Syrian people, but to the possibility that the country might still be brought back from the edge of oblivion.
Will Win: For Sama
Could Win: The Cave
Should Win: For Sama
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Makeup and Hairstyling
There doesnât seem to be much standing in the way of the triumph of the red, white, and blue neo-Juggalo.
We couldnât really say it any better than Odie Henderson, who recently scoffed: âWho wins the Costume Design Oscar for Joker? The Goodwill? Who wins the Makeup Oscar for Joker? A blind Mary Kay consultant?â While we think the Academy will stop short of awarding the motley threads of Todd Phillipsâs risible throwback machine in the costume category, the fact that they were nominated at all over, say, the imaginatively garish â70s finery that Ruth Carter created for Dolemite Is My Name indicates a level of affection for Joker that no one who doesnât use the word âsnowflakeâ on a daily basis seems prepared for.
While, to us, Joaquin Phoenixâs Joker looks like nothing so much as Marge after sitting still for a makeup gun, as Homer put it best, âWomen will like what I tell them to like.â From his lips to the Academyâs ears (and face). And given this categoryâs expansion didnât add more multicolored prosthetic creations along the lines of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, but instead more invisible character augmentation along the lines of Judy and Bombshell, there doesnât seem to be much standing in the way of the triumph of the red, white, and blue neo-Juggalo.
Will Win: Joker
Could Win: Judy
Should Win: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: International Feature Film
Parasite is a pervasive presence in the news cycle, and at just the right time.
Bong Joon-hoâs Parasite is a pervasive presence in the news cycle, and at just the right time. As I write this latest prediction for Slantâs rolling Oscar coverage, the top article on the front page of Rotten Tomatoes is a ranking, by Tomatometer, of the nine films nominated for best picture this year. Number one? Parasite. Immediately next to that article is a callout to readers to vote for their favorite film of 2019 that uses Song Kang-hoâs face from Parasiteâs poster as the featured image. Regarding that poster, in simply placing black bars over the actorsâ faces, it succinctly, eerily, perfectly underlines the filmâs obsession with social strata. And you donât need to look far beyond the aggregate site to land on some article praising the perfectly lit and designed architectural purgatory that is the filmâs main setting.
Perfect. Thatâs a funny word. There are no objectively measurable criteria for perfection, but given how many times Iâve heard Bongâs film described as being âperfectâ since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme dâOr, youâd think that there were. Still, the impulse to use it to describe this particular film, so balanced and attuned to the ties that both bind and separate us, evident in everything from the dimensions of Bongâs aesthetic, to his actorsâ faces, to their words, makes a certain kind of sense. Quick, can you name the other four films nominated in this category? How apt if you canât, as this is a film profoundly obsessed with the subterfuge that can be weaponized during class warfare. Or awards campaigns.
Will Win: Parasite
Could Win: Pain and Glory
Should Win: Parasite
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Original Score
John Williams is in no danger of winning, but a case could be made for any of the other four.
That one of the five films nominated for original score this year is not a best picture nominee nor had any shot at being one almost makes this category an outlier among this yearâs Oscar races, which seem otherwise fixated on frontrunners. John Williams already had the record-setting strength of 51 previous nominations leading into this weekâs announcement, so his nod for the third Star Wars installment, or sixth, or ninth, or…does The Mandalorian count? Anyway, suffice it to say that the only thing that couldâve been more knee-jerk than to select nominations solely from among this yearâs best picture probables would be to rubber stamp Williams uploading yet more variations on intellectual property.
Williams is in no danger of winning, but a case could be made for any of the other four. Alexandre Desplat already has two wins here, both in the last six years, but Little Women is finally picking up momentum at just the right time. His richly romantic cues, which are practically wall to wall throughout the film, come on like a crushed-velvet dust jacket, binding Greta Gerwigâs shifting timeline together in a way that makes just about everyone who isnât Sasha Stone want to clutch the entire thing to their bosoms.
Arguably, another film thatâs still reaching its crest stage is 1917, and unlike Desplat, composer Thomas Newman is still waiting for his first win, and now holding the categoryâs longest losing streak. It canât be said that Newman doesnât pull out all the stops, piecing together a work that feels inspired by both Hans Zimmerâs pulsating Dunkirk score and Samuel Barberâs âAdagio for Strings,â most memorably used in Oliver Stoneâs Platoon. And yet, weâre kind of with Bilge Ebiri, who after the nominations were announced, tweeted, âYou didnât give it to DUNKIRK, youâre not allowed to give it to 1917. Sorry, weâre very strict on this matter.â
Not to say that we expect 1917 to roll snake eyes on its 10 nominations. Only that any nominations for the film related to things that Dunkirk already did better two years ago are a tough sell, despite the draw of Newmanâs increasingly amplified Oscar backstory. Thatâs presuming that the narrative doesnât wind up over-shadowed by the sidebar-friendly cousinâs duel between Thomas and his cousin, Randy Newman, whose jaunty, Terms of Endearment-esque Marriage Story score appears to have as many detractors as it has fans.
Until the nominations were announced, we admit to assuming that Hildur GuĂ°nadĂłttirâs Golden Globe win for Todd Phillipsâs Joker was going to go down the same way as Justin Hurwitzâs did a year ago: with an Oscar snub. We reasoned that GuĂ°nadĂłttir, who also perked ears up and won an Emmy last year for her work on HBOâs Chernobyl, was still too fresh a talent for the more cliquey AMPAS musiciansâ branch. But now that sheâs there, Globe in hand and attached to the film that, by the numbers, the academy loved best this year, she offers even conscience-wracked voters the chance to hand a feature-length 4chan fantasy a guilt-free win by also awarding one of the filmâs few female nominees.
Will Win: Hildur GuĂ°nadĂłttir, Joker
Could Win: Thomas Newman, 1917
Should Win: Alexandre Desplat, Little Women
Tags: Academy Awards, Hildur GuĂ°nadĂłttir, Joker, Thomas Newman, 1917, Alexandre Desplat, Little Women, Randy Newman, Marriage Story, John Williams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Oscar 2020 Winner Predictions: Actress
Well hi, everybody, itâs nice to see you.
Well hi, everybody, itâs nice to see you. Loyal readers of Slantâs Oscar coverage know that we donât like to beat around the bush, and this year we have even less reason to do so what with the accelerated awards calendar forcing us to kick-start our rolling predictions earlier than usual. So, as we busy ourselves in the next few days catching up with some remaining blindspots, and being thankful that we donât actually ever have to see Cats, we will be bringing you our predictions in some of Oscarâs easier-to-call categories.
Which isnât to say that weâre going to be drama-free. Case in point: the revelation that Eric Henderson, my fellow awards guru, made on Twitter this week that âScarlett Johansson is genuinely better in Jojo Rabbit than in Marriage Story.â He also asked us to throw the tweet back in this face four or five years from now, but I say right now is as good a time as any.
No, seriously, shocking as that tweet was to this fan of Marriage Storyâs entire acting ensemble, that some are already predicting the actress as a possible spoiler in supporting actress in the wake of Jojo Rabbit scoring six nominations, itâs gotten us thinking about the ostensibly evolving tastes of AMPASâs membership at a time when itâs struggling to diversify itself. And based on how things went down at last yearâs Oscars, the only conclusion we can come up with is that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Immediately after Glenn Close lost the Oscar last year to Olivia Coleman, Eric sent me a text wondering why AMPAS hates the former so much, to which I offered that thereâs nothing more unwavering than Hollywoodâs support for actors playing real-life individuals. Well, that and its support for actors who actually want to be exalted by the industry. Even in a world where RenĂ©e Zellweger isnât also being helped by a comeback narrative, and has yet to follow Joaquin Phoenixâs savvy lead by getting arrested at Jane Fondaâs weekly climate change protest and erasing our memory of her performance at the Golden Globes, sheâs nominated for a generally well liked performance in a film that has actually performed well at the box office.
On Monday, more outcry was provoked by the Oscar nominations, again for women being shut out of the best director race, but also for the snubbing of several actors of color, most notably Jennifer Lopez and Lupita Nâyongo. Some will speculate that Cynthia Erivo, the only actor of color to be nominated this year, is a potential spoiler here, but whether she stands to benefit from a core of protest votes is something that can never be known. This fine actressâs performance checks off almost as many boxes as Zellwegerâs, if not, at the end of the day, the one that matters most: representing a film about the industry itself, in this case one that will allow a reliably backward-looking Hollywood to atone for sins committed against their own.
Will Win: RenĂ©e Zellweger, Judy
Could Win: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Should Win: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
2020 Oscar Nominations: Joker, 1917, The Irishman, and OUATIH Lead Field
Nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by Issa Rae and John Cho.
Nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning by Issa Rae and John Cho. Todd Phillipsâs Joker led the nomination count with 11, followed by Martin Scorseseâs The Irishman, Sam Mendesâs 1917, and Quentin Tarantinoâs Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood with 10 each, and Bong Joon-hoâs Parasite, Noah Baumbachâs Marriage Story, Taika Waititiâs Jojo Rabbit, and Greta Gerwigâs Little Women with six each.
While Joker mostly received attention throughout the awards season for Joaquin Phoenixâs lead performance, many pegged Hildur GuĂ°nadĂłttirâs victory at the Golden Globes for her score as a sign that the film would do well at the Oscars. Elsewhere, Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) had to make way for Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) in best supporting actress and Lupita Nâyongo (Us) for Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) in best actress. And both Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) landed nominations for best actor, pushing Golden Globe-winner Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Robert De Niro (The Irishman), and Christian Bale (Ford v. Ferrari out of the way.
See below for a full list of the nominations.
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
Todd Phillips, Joker
Sam Mendes, 1917
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
Charlize Theron, Bombshell
RenĂ©e Zellweger, Judy
Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
Florence Pugh, Little Women
Margot Robbie, Bombshell
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Best Costume Design
Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Best Sound Editing
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Best Sound Mixing
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Best Animated Short
Best Live-Action Short
Nefta Footfall Club
The Neighborâs Window
Best Film Editing
Ford v Ferrari
Best Original Score
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Best Documentary Feature
The Edge of Democracy
Best Documentary Short Subject
In the Absence
Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If Youâre a Girl)
Life Overtakes Me
St. Louis Superman
Walk, Run, Chacha
Best International Feature Film
Corpus Christi (Poland)
Honeyland (North Macedonia)
Les MisĂ©rables (France)
Pain and Glory (Spain)
Parasite (South Korea)
Best Production Design
Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Best Visual Effects
The Lion King
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Best Animated Feature
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Toy Story 4
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Two Popes
Best Original Screenplay
Once Upon a TimeâŠin Hollywood
Best Original Song
âI Canât Let You Throw Yourself Away,â Toy Story 4
â(Iâm Gonna) Love Me Again,â Rocketman
âIâm Standing with You,â Breakthrough
âInto the Unknown,â Frozen 2
âStand Up,â Harriet
2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions
We were so sure that last yearâs Oscars would be the last Oscars. Okay, not really.
We were so sure that last yearâs Oscars would be the last Oscars. Okay, not really, but the endless parade of stupid decisions to improve a show that no one who watches thinks ought to be anything other than the silly, dated, gaudy thing itâs always been gave us no confidence in its future. Nor, for that matter, did the Academyâs utter acquiescence to the Golden Globesâs selection process, rubber-stamping the latter ceremonyâs much-derided choices of Bohemian Rhapsody for best drama (!) and Green Book for best comedy (!!) by allowing those films to become the two biggest winners of Oscar night. As it turns out, only one of the many lame suggestions proffered by the AMPASâs board of directors actually came to pass, if only temporarily. Itâs the accelerated calendar that shortened this yearâs Oscar season and forced everyone (including us) to scramble to get ahead of the much-tightened deadline. So, like Tom Hanksâs Fred Rogers, weâll get right to the heart of the matter.
If there was ever a year where weâd feel comfortable going with fewer than eight nominees here, something the Oscars havenât done since the expansion beyond five a decade ago, this would be that year. From festivals to criticsâ awards to the ongoing guild nominations, such has been the uninterrupted love streak for four specific filmsâMartin Scorseseâs The Irishman, Noah Baumbachâs Marriage Story, Quentin Tarantinoâs Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, and Bong Joon-hoâs Parasiteâthat itâs easy to imagine the quartet hoovering away enough of those necessary first-place votes to leave almost no room for the remaining candidates.
Did we say four? Maybe make that six, since the last few days have proven to us that both 1917, which upset for the best drama and best director Golden Globes, and, arguably, Joker, which earned the most BAFTA nominations, are firing on all necessary cylinders. Weâre still not entirely sure that the love for Jokerâs incel overtures isnât more of a European thing (beyond the BAFTAs, its strongest endorsement came from its surprising Golden Lion triumph at the Venice Film Festival) and that the majority of Americanâs cultural gatekeepers arenât repulsed.
But a hit is a hit is a hit, which is why weâre also predicting a surprise nod for this yearâs foremost Dad Movie™, James Mangoldâs Ford v. Ferrari, and would be likely to predict the same for an even bigger hit, Rian Johnsonâs Knives Out, if only its devilish depiction of the underlying racism residing within even the most well-meaning moneyed white people didnât hit so close to home. And, of course, were it not for the alternative chance for voters to instead shoot broadly satirical, and safely historical, Nazis in a barrel.
No nomination gave us more reason to believe that AMPASâs cleaning up of its voting roster may have actually changed things than PaweĆ Pawlikowskiâs for best director last year, over the likes of Bradley Cooper and Peter Farrelly. Sure, the directors branch has always been among the most likely to nominate foreign-language candidates, once the seal was broken in the â60s during Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergmanâs heyday. But last year everyone knew their due diligence would be taken care of by Romaâs Alfonso CuarĂłn, and yet they still nominated a second foreign prospect, marking only the second time thatâs ever happened, after Lina Wertmuller and Bergman earned nods for 1976âs Seven Beauties and Face to Face, respectively.
That, after Wertmuller, only four other female directors have been nominated isnât of itself the kiss of death for Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang, Marielle Heller, CĂ©line Sciamma, Lorene Scafaria, Mati Diop, Chinonye Chukwu, Olivia Wilde, Alma Harâel, Claire Denis, Kasi Lemmons, Melina Matsoukas, or Joanna Hogg. But the fact that BAFTA and the DGA could both assess a year with not just one top-drawer distaff candidate but legitimately more than a dozen, and still come up with nothing but penis sure feels like it.
The AMPAS branch of directors, though, still feels one or two steps hipper than the room. Maybe not hip enough to give the Safdie brothers their due, but we at least expect them to hold their noses about giving their slot to the director of The Hangover movies, and to stand another foreign director alongside the given Bong Joon-ho. Of the many options, we feel pretty bullish about longtime Academy favorite Pedro AlmodĂłvar, whose Pain and Glory is as much a valedictory lap for elder artists as Tarantino and Scorseseâs offerings.
Itâs hard to dispute what Mark Harris months ago saw happening in this category, namely that four slots were thought to be all but locked in for white actresses, despite wide acknowledgement that this was a weak year for the category except when it comes to actresses of color. Well, weâre going to dispute it anyway. In particular, weâre nowhere near as convinced as Gold Derby that Charlize Theron is a slam dunk. (Their collective has assigned her even more âpredict nominationâ points, whatever those are, than winner-elect RenĂ©e Zellweger.) Theronâs turn may be more physically transformative than co-star Nicole Kidmanâs, but sheâs still playing Megyn Kelly, no matter how much Bombshell opts to highlight her lawyerly âobjectivityâ behind the scenes and only pays momentary lip service to the sort of âJesus was white, and so is Santa Clausâ rhetoric that made her a star at Fox News in the first place.
The filmâs underperformance in theaters and with precursors also doesnât bode well, but itâs hard to imagine even the same voters who handed Green Book the top award siding with Kelly over Saoirse Ronanâs Jo pointedly throwing a passive-aggressive wedding at the end of her book to please an editor in Little Women. Lupita Nyongâoâs precursor run for starring in elevated horror gave us flashbacks, but she has one thing Toni Collette didnât: that SAG nod. So, we think she emerges from the underworld to stand alongside Harrietâs Cynthia Erivo.
On the flip side, weâre unable to shake the specter of Ethan Hawke failing to land an Oscar nod despite winning approximately four times as many criticsâ awards as any other single performer last year. There will likely be plenty of time to unpack what AMPAS has to say about masculinity in the midst of the #MeToo backlash, but suffice it for now to say that the alchemy straight actor Antonio Banderas brings to AlmodĂłvarâs queer universe, not just now but for literally a generation, feels particularly out of line with the zeitgeist held up against not just the likes of Joaquin Phoenixâs sociopathic Joker, but arguably almost everyone else we see breezing by Banderas for the nod in the yearâs most competitive acting category.
Leonardo DiCaprioâs existential crisis as fading B-list actor Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood is also, often explicitly, a crisis of professional virility. The initial post-feminist-friendly reluctance of Adam Driverâs character to do battle with his soon-to-be ex-wife in Marriage Story eventually shatters into what Film Twitter (yes, shallowly) categorized as the wrath of someone whoâs never had to deal with being called on their privilege. And, of course, Ford v. Ferrariâs last word on Oscar darling Christian Baleâs Ken Miles comes in the form of one of his tools, predicating his entire existence on “the work.”
And speaking of work, if Rocketmanâs Taron Egerton looks increasingly likely to take the most up-for-grabs slot, itâs as much due to his willingness to put in the hours on the glad-handing highway as it is Oscarâs increasingly grudging fondness for male ingĂ©nues (Rami Malek, Eddie Redmayne). In the context of all this, we wonât be terribly surprised to see Robert De Niroâs central performance in The Irishman, as a manâs man who way too late in the game realizes the cost of his brand of masculinity, reduced to an also-ran.
Best Supporting Actress
Academy rules prevent Margo Robbie from getting nominated twice here. But the fact that the BAFTAs reserved not one but two slots for her on their ballot, despite all headwinds indicating that the consultants and publicists pulling the strings on the campaign trail had fully installed Bombshell as âthe oneâ for Robbieâs Oscar chances this year, feels an awful lot like Kate Winslet in 2008 to us. As you recall, everyone fell into line with the narrative that she was to be nominated for lead actress for Revolutionary Road and supporting actress for The Reader. And as you recall, the Academy didnât like the former film and found the latter downright irresistible, and so they went their own way. Thatâs the benefit of being the Oscars. (Everything else is called a âprecursorâ because theyâre not the Oscars.)
We donât need to tell you of the sizable overlap between BAFTAâs membership and AMPASâs for you to take a wild guess as to which of Robbieâs two contending films is better liked. Also, the backlash against those who would dare point out Robbieâs Sharon Tate, aside from her feet, has a lot less to do in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood than in Bombshell is very much in the air. I mean, weâre that close to including Anna Paquin among our list of closest runners-up, specifically because of the volume among those decrying her lack of dialogue in The Irishman.
Best Supporting Actor
About this category, we have roughly as much to say as Anna Paquin, or maybe Joe Pesci, whose uncharacteristically verbose acceptance speech took everyone by surprise at the New York Film Critics Circle gala this week. Five slots, and Parasiteâs Song Kang-ho aside, Oscarâs elder statesmen look to fill them all. The dual nominations for Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira last year would seem to portend good things for Songâto say nothing of SAGâs perception-altering (and still mind-blowing) nomination of Bong Joon-hoâs film for best ensemble cast over the likes of Marriage Story, Little Women, and Knives Out, but neither of Romaâs actresses faced as much competition in their fields for othersâ valedictory victory laps.
Even more so than in best actress, this category simply has four slots all but reserved already. For the fifth, BAFTA and the Golden Globes went for Anthony Hopkins as Bad Pope, and SAG opted for Jamie Foxx as Good Incarnate. Weâre expecting Oscar voters to go somewhere in the middle: Alan Alda, a welcome breath of fresh air playing the one lawyer in Marriage Story who recognizes how the whole system is rigged, unfair, and predatory, and who yet still possesses enough humanity to regale his client with a long-winded joke (on the clock, naturally).
Best Adapted Screenplay
You may have noticed that weâre not yet convinced that Little Women is going to pull a Phantom Thread as the late-breaker that gets ignored by most precursors only to finally arrive at the station when it comes time for Oscar nominations. But Greta Gerwigâs updating of Louisa Mae Alcottâs universe for modern sensibilities feels like the frontrunner here, alongside Steven Zaillianâs adaptation of Charles Brandtâs I Heard You Paint Houses, which at approximately 4,680 pages of script earns the spot on ream-girth alone.
While it’s all iffy territory beyond those two, we actually feel pretty good about the WGAâs nominees enough to quell our reservations about leaving off the crowd-pleasing, feminist antics of Hustlers and the, we guess, Catholic-pleasing antics of The Two Popes. Jojo Rabbit and Joker were both written or co-written by the filmsâ directors, which never hurts, and this is one of the few categories where we could see the subtleties of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhoodâs treatise on masculinity trumping the revving of Ford v. Ferrariâs.
Best Original Screenplay
We canât go five-for-five with WGA on this side of the script categories, as Quentin Tarantino remains ineligible for guild consideration. Also, you know, Booksmart, as we’d be more shocked to see that one included on the Oscar roster than we would be to see Tarantino left off. Because, beyond Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and Parasite, there are already way too many candidates that fit the classic template for original screenplays that earn their movies its only Oscar nod out there, among them Rian Johnsonâs riotous Knives Out, the Safdie brothers and Ronald Bronsteinâs unrelenting Uncut Gems, and Lulu Wang’s nuanced The Farewell. Johnsonâs political whodunit hybrid is in with a
bullet syringe filled with morphine, but the other two look vulnerable to Noah Baumbachâs Marriage Story, filled as it is with copious speechifying, and (again) Pedro AlmodĂłvarâs don’t-call-it-a-swan song Pain and Glory.