2020 Oscar Predictions

UPDATED FRIDAY, February 7, 2020

The Oscar race of 2020 is considered by experts to be among the most predictable (hence, boring) in many a year. Even the usual cry of “there’s always some big surprise” is muted as most think that the winners are all wrapped up at this point. That’s probably true. But here are my predictions anyway, with my comments following some of them.

Best Picture Nominees

“Ford v Ferrari”
“The Irishman”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Little Women”
“Marriage Story”
“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

The winner: 1917. It would be a shock at this point, with wins by the PGA (no, not the golf association), DGA, and even the BAFTAs. Apparently the powers that be accidentally had perfect timing for this film’s release, which any other year might have been considered too late in the awards season.

Comments: This is been the best year for films in a long time. Every film nominated will be remembered fondly, and most are going to be classics. The Irishman was thought to be a lock months ago, as was Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood earlier in the year. But they will have to be content with the nominations.

Lead Actor

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

The winner: Joaquin Phoenix. Lots of awards from the guilds, plus the BAFTA, plus this often strange presenter has been pulling it together in his acceptance speeches in a clear bid to win. It’s overdue for him. But any other actor listed is worthy as well this year. This may have been Leo’s most complete performance, Adam Driver might have won in any other year, the same for Pryce, and the Banderas nomination is a career award.

Lead Actress

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”
Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”
Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
Renee Zellweger, “Judy”

The winner: Zellweger. It’s been hers to lost for ages now, and that’s not going to happen. Erivo was unfortunately just a token nomination, but a good one nevertheless. Johansson didn’t own Marriage Story like Adam Driver did, so this was never going to happen for her this year. Ronan is already a great actress, but she is moving into “nominated many times without a win” category. She’ll get hers, hopefully sooner than later. Zellweger was great, though, and owned this film like no other actress owned theirs this year. Sometimes the best “role” wins.

Supporting Actor

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 Time in Hollywood”

The winner: Pitt. Nearly everyone in the industry wants to see him win this, and he’s been playing the awards circuit like an orchestra conductor. Hopkins could have won this deservedly, and the argument that Pesci deserved it above the others could be easily made. But it’s Brad’s year.

Supporting Actress

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

The winner: Laura Dern. She’s won every other group’s award for this, and it will be well deserved. She’s Hollywood royalty (google her parents), and it was a great performance.

Comment: The “snub” thing. Too much ink has been spilled using this overused and misapplied term. Those who nominated apparently wanted to “snub” Jennifer Lopez here for Hustlers. Or maybe, maybe, they just though the other five were more deserving. This looks like it could have been an actual snub (rare), as this performer is worth a half billion, and did the halftime performance at the biggest TV event of the year. Maybe people thought that was enough. Maybe they just didn’t like her. Or maybe they just didn’t like the film, and overlooked her performance because of that. Or maybe, maybe, they just thought the other performances were better.


Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
Todd Phillips, “Joker”
Sam Mendes, “1917”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”

The winner: Mendes. He’s pretty much wrapped it up with the guilds, and now with the BAFTA award, it’s likely his. And the Academy loves technically complex films, and loves to award their directors.

Comment: I suppose there is an outside chance that Ho might win for Parasite. I would have predicted that as a real possibility a month ago. But the love for 1917 just keeps growing. Scorsese is getting ignored about now, which is sad because The Irishman may be remembered in the future as his magnum opus. Same with Tarantino. Any other year, either of them could have won with their film.

Animated Feature

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” Dean DeBlois
“I Lost My Body,” Jeremy Clapin
“Klaus,” Sergio Pablos
“Missing Link,” Chris Butler
“Toy Story 4,”  Josh Cooley

Winner: Toy Story  4

Comment: Klaus has been receiving a lot of love lately. And the others have as well. They may well cancel each other out.

Adapted Screenplay

“The Irishman,” Steven Zaillian
“Jojo Rabbit,” Taika Waititi
“Joker,” Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
“Little Women,” Greta Gerwig
“The Two Popes,” Anthony McCarten

The winner: Jojo Rabbit

Comment: My first guess was Little Women, as I think the entire Academy wanted to award Gerwig for her work, especially since she was “snubbed” for a directing nomination. But the momentum has moved to Jojo.

Original Screenplay

“Knives Out,” Rian Johnson
“Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach
“1917,” Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino
“Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho, Jin Won Han

Winner: Parasite

Comment: Parasite is greatly respected, and many will feel that no wins for Picture and Director will be short shrift, and that its guaranteed win for Best International Film isn’t enough. I was hoping for Marriage Story, but the writer-director will just have to wait.


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

Winner: 1917. No doubt. This will be legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins’ second award, and it might easily have been his fifth or sixth. No question on this one.

Best Documentary Feature

“American Factory,” Julia Rieichert, Steven Bognar
“The Cave,” Feras Fayyad
“The Edge of Democracy,” Petra Costa
“For Sama,” Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
“Honeyland,” Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov

The winner: American Factory

Comment: This is produced by the Obamas. For Hollywood, that’s all they need to know.

Best International Feature Film

“Corpus Christi,” Jan Komasa
“Honeyland,” Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov
“Les Miserables,” Ladj Ly
“Pain and Glory,” Pedro Almodovar
“Parasite,” Bong Joon Ho

The winner: Parasite (see best original screenplay above). In a year of locks, this is the lockiest.

Film Editing

“Ford v Ferrari,” Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland
“The Irishman,” Thelma Schoonmaker
“Jojo Rabbit,” Tom Eagles
“Joker,” Jeff Groth
“Parasite,” Jinmo Yang

The winner: Ford v Ferrari

Comment: The American Cinema Editors award went to Parasite. But Ford v Ferrari is just a normal film without its editing.

Sound Editing

“Ford v Ferrari,” Don Sylvester
“Joker,” Alan Robert Murray
“1917,” Oliver Tarney, Rachel Tate
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Wylie Stateman
“Star Wars: The Rise of SkyWalker,” Matthew Wood, David Acord

The winner: Ford v Ferrari

Comment: People are still arguing about what this category means, and how it differs from the next category. I just hope Joker doesn’t win, and I have a soft spot for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino’s film “deserves” to win—whatever that means—but we’ll see.

Sound Mixing

“Ad Astra”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

The winner: 1917

Comments: What’s fascinating about this year’s films is that they major in different applications of visual effects. Endgame is a classic and important superhero movie with high production values. The de-aging process was put to its best use in The Irishman. The Lion King is an unusual film in that it’s made to NOT look like an animated film. And Star Wars is Star Wars. Minds brighter than mine think 1917 will win, but for reasons I don’t quite understand or agree with. In a year of outstanding visual effects, no one film—pardon me—stands out.


About Mark DuPré

Retired (associate) pastor at a Christian church. Retired film professor at Rochester Institute of Technology. Husband for 48+ years to the lovely and talented Diane. Father to three children and father-in-law to three more amazing people. I continue some ministry duties even though retired from the pastoral position. Right now I'm co-writing a book, working on a documentary (screenwriter and assistant director), and creating a serious musical drama (I am writing the book and lyrics).
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