I May Not Always Be Right, But I Am Never Wrong: Oscars Predictions 2020

For the second year in a row I’m not staying up all night to watch the Oscars, although this year’s reason (I have a work-related call at 10am tomorrow) is less fun than last year’s (I was meeting kangaroos and the world’s biggest spiders at Taronga Zoo in Sydney). BUT that’s not going to stop me from making predictions, any more than is the fact that I still haven’t seen over half of the Best Picture nominees. That second fact doesn’t matter at all, of course, because the awarding of Oscars has nearly nothing to do with how good or otherwise a film or performance is, which is why Uncut Gems isn’t nominated for anything and Laura Dern will beat Florence Pugh in Supporting Actress.

Wait! I was going to leave the cynicism till later! For now I’m going to work my way up to the fun categories by beginning with the ones nobody cares about! So without further ado let’s agree that Makeup and Hairstyling is the least interesting category of all this year, and it’s also one in which a film without a hope anywhere else often wins, which is why my pick is Bombshell, for whatever the hey they did that made Charlize Theron look slightly, but also kind of not at all, like Megyn Kelly:

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 18.16.04
Say, when I greenlit Charlize Angels this is not what I expected to see!

Personally, I’m sort of fine with people playing other people without looking much like them (a conversation I have already had with myself elsewhere), but if you’re going to make the effort then doing it in a way that isn’t horribly distracting seems like it should garner some sort of reward.

I also don’t care about Costume Design this year, but it seems like a good way to give Little Women some love, given that it’s not going to win any of the biggies (except, I think, Adapted Screenplay).

Let’s talk about the Shorts! Have you seen any of them? I haven’t, because they’ve made the Oscars a month earlier than usual and I thought I had longer than I did to get around to catching up with everything. No matter; I can draw on the wisdom of others here and advise you that the bookies’ favourites are Learning To Skateboard for Documentary Short, Hair Love for Animated Short (and having read about it, that’s the one I’m keenest to see) and Brotherhood for Live Action Short, and I see no reason to disagree with any of that.

Let’s talk about films we’ve seen! Editing, like Cinematography, is one of the awards that gives you a pointer for Best Picture, although because the latter category is calculated differently from all the others it’s not always reliable. But since we’re all obediently pretending that 1917 hasn’t been edited at all I think this is a straight win for Parasite. The former film will make up the difference by winning in VFX, and to be fair to it, although it is a silly film it does have some great effects and giving it to 1917 means not giving it to The Irishman; a decision of which I think we can all approve.

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 19.10.46
Sam Mendes’ loving adaptation of the This Is Fine meme is heavily tipped to take home some glory

This year’s best Oscars fact is that Randy Newman, nominated for his score for Marriage Story, and Thomas Newman, likewise for 1917, are cousins. Isn’t that cool? But I think Hildur Guðnadóttir is going to win for Joker, because giving an award to a woman for a film about white male rage is a good way to get around the problematic-ness. (And because it’s a great score, but as we’ve established, that doesn’t matter.)

Song is going to Elton John and Bernie Taupin, obviously, for (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again from Rocketman, which you saw five times in the cinema and you’re not ashamed to admit it. It’s only an OK song but Elton is unstoppable, especially since they won the Golden Globe and he told us it’s the first award he and Bernie have ever received jointly, which is a story the Academy are going to be more than pleased to crown with a happy ending tonight, even though Elton is apparently Skyping in for his live performance. (Meanwhile Beyoncé and Taylor Swift aren’t showing up at all, despite having been nominated, presumably because they know as well as we do that they aren’t taking the little gold man home.)

Would you like me to explain again the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing? Try this: if a film was an album, Sound Editing would go to whoever wrote the album, and Sound Mixing would go to whoever produced it. It doesn’t much matter in this instance because both of them will go to 1917, although I think Ford vs Ferrari is in with a shout too, because the Academy likes it when films reproduce difficult-to-find sounds, and 1960s race car engines are that (I imagine).

1917 will also take Cinematography in a deserved win for likeable dude Burt Bacharach Roger Deakins, who having managed a record thirteen nominations without a win between 1994 and 2015 is now going to make it a brace after winning two years ago for Blade Runner 2049. Everything comes to those who wait.

I keep thinking that Quentin Tarantino’s next film can’t possibly piss me off as much as the last one did, and then being wrong. Now, I will admit to having fallen asleep during part of the middle three hours of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood so I may not be best-placed to judge it, but where I think it stands the best chance outside of Best Supporting Actor (which is nailed on for Brad Pitt) is in Production Design, because even I, asleep and pissed off though I may have been, couldn’t help admiring the gorgeous evocation of Old Hollywood, and if there’s one thing we know Hollywood loves, it’s films about Hollywood.

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 19.12.27
What do you fancy doing tonight? Well, I thought I might brutally murder some burglars. Hey, that’s a great idea!

The odds for Documentary Feature are heavily in favour of American Factory and it probably will win, because it’s the first feature film from the Obamas’ production company, and for some reason nobody objects to giving prizes to Netflix-distributed films, which it is, in the smaller categories, but I’m going to stick my neck out and predict a win for For Sama because it has (deservedly) won every other documentary prize going, and I want you to see it more than I want you to see any of the others.

Animated Feature is super boring this year! Nobody wanted a Toy Story 4 and even the fact that it’s quite good does not justify its existence. I think it will win, but it will be a grudging, “go on then, if you must” win rather than a joyful one, which maybe means we’re getting closer to the time when Disney doesn’t win this category (though they will make up for it by winning all the others, so we don’t really get a net gain).

You can’t nominate a film for Foreign Language Picture and Best Picture and not give it the first one, so that’s an easy win for Parasite. Bong Joon-ho will also, I think, win Original Screenplay, so let’s hope he’s got someone with him who can carry at least one Oscar so that he has a free hand for greeting people with at the afterparty. Adapted Screenplay is tougher, because I think a lot of people really like Jojo Rabbit (maybe as many as hate it!) and even more people really like Taika Waititi, but I think even more people than that really like Greta Gerwig and feel bad that she isn’t nominated in Director, so I’m predicting a slim win for Little Women. (We never find out what margin anything wins by, so that “slim” is redundant, but I’m leaving it in anyway.)

On to the only categories you’re interested in! The acting awards have all been sewn up for months and will go to Joaquin Phoenix, Renee Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern, though eye would give them to Adam Sandler (who isn’t nominated), Cynthia Erivo, Tom Hanks and Florence Pugh (I would give Florence Pugh all the prizes for everything, even for Midsommar which is a bad film in which she is great).

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 19.33.21
Florence shown here being told the news that while her rage is white enough to qualify for Academy recognition, it isn’t anywhere near male enough to win.

There’s less clarity in the Picture and Director categories, although the bookies will tell you otherwise. 1917 is by far the favourite for both, and I think Sam Mendes will indeed pick up Director (twenty years after he last did it, also for a Quite Bad film), but I think (and hope) that Parasite will dive in and take Best Picture. Here’s why:

  1. It won the SAG Ensemble Award, which means it’s the film that actors love the most, and actors form the biggest segment of Academy voters.
  2. Everybody likes it, which means that voters who rank a no-hoper like Jojo Rabbit or Ford vs Ferrari top will have it at second or third in their list and their vote will eventually be transferred to it.
  3. It’s the best film on the list (though obviously this isn’t relevant).

It could go the other way, with Bong Joon-ho taking Director and 1917 taking Picture, which historical-statistically is likelier (a foreign language film has never won Best Picture; everybody loves Bong Joon-ho and they do give Best Director to foreign language films, as they did last year with Roma; the Academy likes films about heroes which look like they were hard to make) but I think the split, at least, is likelier than not, despite what the odds are saying.

Did you skip straight down to the bottom in the hope there’d be a straightforward list without any of the flannel around it? You’re in luck, though I don’t really see why I should oblige you if you’re so uninterested.

Picture Parasite
Director Sam Mendes
Actor Joaquin Phoenix
Actress Renee Zellweger
Supporting Actor Brad Pitt
Supporting Actress Laura Dern
Adapted Screenplay Little Women
Original Screenplay Parasite
Foreign Language Film Parasite
Animated Feature Toy Story 4
Documentary Feature For Sama
Production Design Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Cinematography 1917
Sound Editing 1917
Sound Mixing 1917
Original Song Rocketman
Original Score Joker
Visual Effects 1917
Editing Parasite
Documentary Short Learning To Skateboard
Animated Short Hair Love
Live Action Short Brotherhood
Costume Design Little Women
Makeup and Hair Bombshell

(I had to write that table in HTML because WordPress doesn’t have an “insert table” tool any more! The things I do for you.)

But enough about me. What do YOU think?

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