AJ’s Top 15 of 2020 & 2021

Hey there. Been a while.

In January of 2021, I made a decision to postpone my annual best-of list until 2022. With release dates being pushed out, Academy eligibility shifts, and simply fewer movies getting shown in theaters, I didn’t want to scrape the bottom of the barrel with a Top 10 List that likely wouldn’t have even come out until April.

And so, I’m proud to finally present the list of my Top 15 Movies from 2020 and 2021.

15. King Richard

The movie on this list I was most skeptical about going into, King Richard was one of my favorite feel-good movies of the last two years. A crowd-pleaser whose emotion and sentimentality is (usually) not a hinderance, the movie is anchored by a captivating Will Smith in a film that honestly shouldn’t be this good. Thankfully, it is.

14. Spider-Man: No Way Home

You know, I’m something of a film critic myself – and I think that while the entirety of No Way Home doesn’t glisten as brightly as its final showdown, it’s worth trudging through the lizard CGI and the “let’s help the bad guys solve their problems” portion of the movie to get some of the best character content we’ve seen in a Spider-Man movie. Holland, Garfield, Dafoe, and Molina far exceeded my expectations going in – and yes, I’m still waiting for my Kirsten Dunst cameo.

13. Red Rocket

Simon Rex is electrifying in Sean Baker’s follow-up to my favorite movie of 2017. I’m always impressed when a movie can make an unlikable character worth cheering for, and Rex’s performance as the gray-moralled Mikey Saber is one of my favorite examples of this trope in action. The movie’s contents are a bit too problematic for me to unabashedly sing its praises, but man did I enjoy myself in that theater.

12. Belfast

I like what I like, and slice-of-life nostalgia does it for me. Belfast‘s blend of innocence and family turmoil created an inviting theater experience for me as I experienced writer-director Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiography. The cast truly shines here – most notably Catriona Balfe and newcomer Jude Hill.

11. CODA

CODA wasn’t convenient to watch – I finally had to buckle and get an Apple TV+ free trial. But it was worth it. Was CODA sappy and emotionally manipulative? Yes. Did I still almost cry? You better believe it. Emilia Jones is being heinously overlooked in the Best Actress race – and if you get an Apple TV account and watch this movie, you’ll see why.

10. Alone

At last – a 2020 movie! Watching Alone was a watershed experience for me. As a road tripper, the preliminary sequences of car-bound cat-and-mouse kept me on the edge of my couch, even though I knew our protagonist would soon be captured. And once she was, I found myself rooting for her harder than any movie character since maybe Chris in Get Out. This is how to make a survivalist movie right. I can only imagine how vocal the crowd would have been had I seen this in the theater.

9. West Side Story

A return to the familiar, the new West Side Story updates the award-winning classic with a modern cast, flare, and pace. For the record, I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but it’s hard to deny the efficacy of Spielberg and his cast and crew here. Of all the movies on this list, West Side Story is one of the films I’m most excited to watch again soon.

8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Goddamn, Viola Davis. She carried this movie of a heated recording studio session exceptionally. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of her – and the movie’s screenplay and design depicted the ugliness of 1920’s Chicago in every way. Also, while I defend Anthony Hopkins’ win at last year’s Oscars, that shouldn’t take away from the spirited and committed work of Chadwick Boseman in this movie, who keeps us enthralled when Davis is off-screen.

7. The Hunt

I’m a busy guy, so it takes a Grade-A movie for me to watch it one day, then put it back in the DVD player the next day to watch it again. The first time I saw The Hunt, that’s exactly what happened (and yes, I still have a DVD player). The Hunt is a blast. It’s unique, well-paced, hysterical, and poignant. While I can’t say it’s the best film of the past two years, I might say that it’s my favorite.

6. The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aside from the shove-it-down-your-throat racism of Frank Langella’s character, Chicago 7 was engrossing and made its serious subject matter entertaining. A much more promising showcase of writer-director Aaron Sorkin’s dual behind-the-camera abilities than his 2021 effort Being the Ricardos (which – candidly – I did enjoy), the cast, editing, and screenplay make Chicago 7 worth your time.

5. Dune

Another movie I’m excited to revisit, Dune lands the #5 spot on my list largely due to the commitment to its production. Visually visceral and epic and every way, Dune‘s ambitions pay off and effectively create a world of intrigue, power, and adventure. Side note: when Zendaya showed up at the end, I literally said “fucking finally” out loud. Can’t wait to see more of her in 2UNE.

4. Don’t Look Up

Like The Hunt, Don’t Look Up takes rather pressing subject matter in our world and pushes things to the extreme. Also like The Hunt, I loved every minute. It’s my favorite Adam McKay movie, and Leo and Jonah are doing some incredible work here. Maybe I shouldn’t laugh at this movie – but I’ve seen it twice and can’t seem to go a few minutes without doing so.

3. A Quiet Place Part II

Admittedly, I didn’t love the first A Quiet Place. But the second one, I unabashedly do. There was one sequence of the movie where I don’t think I took a breath for nearly two minutes. While the narrative works best when we’re on the Cillian Murphy/Millicent Simmonds adventure, the entire film builds on the premise and tension of its predecessor for a more polished, heart-pounding endeavor. Bring on A Quiet Place Part III – sooner than later please, John & Emily.

2. Nightmare Alley

If I had to describe Del Toro’s last two movies, it feels like he’s making 1940s movies today. Nightmare Alley encompasses deception and manipulation in this harrowing rise-and-fall noir. Everything and everyone in this movie was firing on all cylinders. It is a sheer tsunami of filmmaking talent at its best, building a world I wanted to simultaneously spend as much and as little time in as possible.

1. Promising Young Woman

This movie made me realize how imperative casting is for a motion picture. With this romance movie wrapped in conflict and bookended by a troubling revenge tale, Emerald Fennell immediately cemented herself as the filmmaker to watch with this one. The music choice, dialogue, characters, and production design are all stand-out. After going months without being in the theater, I’ll never forget my first trip back to the cinema, watching this movie, and grinning during its final moments.

2021 Oscar Predictions: Who Will (and Should) Win?

Another year, another round of AJ’s Oscar commentary.

Another Round pun intended.

Does it need to be said that this year was an abnormal one? Put it this way – I didn’t release a Top 10 of 2021 (keep your eyes peeled in January 2022 for my planned dual-year Top 20 list). I was thrilled that movies still came out in 2020 – I even made my way to the theater a couple times. Still, let’s just say I’m slightly more excited for 2021 in film.

Now, when it comes to the Oscars, we’re looking at a list of films that…didn’t exactly do it for me. Nomadland‘s cinematography, Minari‘s simplicity, and the relevance of historical, Black-led cinema in movies like like Ma Rainey and Black Messiah made 2021 cinema good, but rarely excellent.

Regardless, this is the batch we’ve got this year, and while I won’t do it as passionately as I usually do, I’m prepared to enthrall you with my rants and commentary on who I think should win in each of the major Oscar categories, who likely will win, and who was sadly left off the list.

If you want to hear me talk more about my movies, check out my YouTube channel and the podcast I co-host with my friend Trevor on millennial kids flicks, The Old Kids Movies.

Best Picture

Predicted Winner: Minari

This is more of a “Nomadland will lose” prediction than a “Minari will win” one.

If the Academy has taught us anything in the past few years, it’s that the frontrunner does not win. The Revenant, La La Land, Three Billboards, Roma, and 1917 all came up short in their respective years, so if history continues, we’re in for an upset – and my money’s on Minari, with The Trial of the Chicago 7 close behind.

While beautiful to look at, I believe Nomadland lacks the punch needed to get enough placements in voters’ Top 3 spots on their preferential ballots. We also need to acknowledge the year we’ve had – and while Nomadland captures both the isolation we felt and the escapism we vied for in the last twelve months, it doesn’t touch on the breadth or cover the depth of important social issues that many of its competitors do.

Minari puts an Asian-American family front and center, and balances cinematic subtlety with compelling narrative more effectively than Nomadland does. It also has more humor, more heart, and more tragedy. Meanwhile, Chicago 7 (however briefly) highlights the trials of Black Americans and the corruption of the system that resulted in the death of Fred Hampton (yes, Judas covers this topic in much greater detail, but it doesn’t have Academy darling Aaron Sorkin behind it).

That said, the feeling towards 2020 movies is largely indifferent from what I’ve seen, so if there’s any year without a groundswell of support for the underdog, this might be it, and thus Nomadland will take the prize.

If I had a vote this year, it would go to Promising Young Woman – a phenomenally cast, edited, and written movie that’s perhaps a couple years too late to the #MeToo party. While The Academy probably won’t give it its top prize on Sunday for that reason, that shouldn’t deter you from seeing a film that embodies everything I love about cinema. I guess some Hollywood stars are blind.

The virtually impossible winners on Sunday are Sound of Metal, The Father, and Mank – all of which were lucky to be nominated and 100% would not be here if 2020 went pandemic-less. I’m also disappointed to not see Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on this list, which was 2020’s biggest surprise for me.

AJ’s Rankings (AKA My Personal Preferences)

1. Promising Young Woman
2. The Trial of the Chicago 7
3. Minari
4. Nomadland
5. Judas and the Black Messiah
6. Sound of Metal
7. The Father
8. Mank

Should Have Been Nominated

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Director

Predicted Winner: Zhao, Nomadland

The Academy looks poised to award the second woman in history with a Best Director Oscar – but in my eyes, they’re honoring the wrong woman in this category. Fennell adapted her PYW screenplay with such fascination, taking me on an emotional roller coaster that had me confused at times yet grinning at the end. I can’t wait to see what she makes next.

As for our predicted winner, Zhao captures her female protagonist’s journey with more reservation, effectively transporting viewers into the world of the modern nomad. She’d have had my vote in this category had Fennell not been included.

The only other real contender here is Lee Isaac Chung, who brought a deeply personal tale to the screen with Minari. Legendary director David Fincher will remain Oscar-less after Sunday night, and Thomas Vinterberg will have to settle for the fact that more people saw his amazing film on Hulu than if he had not been nominated.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Fennell, Promising Young Woman
2. Zhao, Nomadland
3. Chung, Minari
4. Vinterberg, Another Round
5. Fincher, Mank

Should Have Been Nominated

Sorkin, The Trial of the Chicago 7; Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actress

Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Davis, Day, McDormand, and Mulligan are essentially in a four-way tie in this race after their respective SAG, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice wins. This prediction is my least confident one for the night, but I’m still making it for a few key reasons.

First, Viola Davis – while to date unrecognized in the Best Actress category – does have an Oscar, while Carey does not. I also think that because both women hand in moving portrayals of historic singers and have some momentum after their respective SAG and Golden Globe wins, Viola and Andra will cancel each other out – leaving room for Carey to emerge as the victor.

Frances may upset, but I believe The Academy will try to share the love knowing Chloe is winning Director and the film itself may (or may not!) win Best Picture. Since PYW is likely only walking away with one other award (more on that later), Academy voters may want to acknowledge the work here in this category. Still, this is the closest Best Actress race I have seen in my time predicting for the show.

My ballot, however, would have Davis’s name checked off. She took a character who sweats cockiness and dislikability and made me root for her wholeheartedly for those same reasons. Close behind is Mulligan, who is a tragically underrated performer.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
2. Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman
3. Andra Day, The United States vs. Billie Holiday
4. Frances McDormand, Nomadland
5. Vanessa Kirby, Pieces of a Woman

Best Actor

Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

This is the performance that made me realize how much I’m going to miss Chadwick Boseman. His passion and excitement for being an actor is evident in this movie, and it is a fitting and signature farewell.

That said, it’s not the best leading male performance of the year.

Anthony Hopkins was haunting in The Father and broke my heart in his final scene. Going purely based on merit, I believe Anthony deserves to walk on that stage and accept an Oscar for Best Actor after 30 years without doing so. Riz Ahmed, too, was haunting as a man dealing with another type of loss, and he made Sound of Metal significantly more watchable for me.

I’m happy to see Steven Yuen here, but his performance in Minari was hardly Oscar-worthy. And don’t get me started on Mank.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Anthony Hopkins, The Father
2. Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
3. Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
4. Steven Yuen, Minari
5. Gary Oldman, Mank

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Winner: Yuh-Jung Youn, Minari

How ironic would it be if Glenn Close – a woman constantly rejected by the Academy – wins her Oscar for Hillbilly Elegy, a movie that was almost entirely rejected by the Academy?

Here’s what I’ll say…it’s possible. I really think it is. But my money (and my vote) would be on Yuh-Jung Youn for her portrayal as nana Soon-ja. Unless Maria Bakalova comes out of nowhere, it really comes down to these two women. Karen Smith is an Oscar nominee, though, so a huge congrats to Amanda Seyfried. Olivia Coleman handed in a nomination-worthy performance in The Father, but it’s unlikely to earn her the win.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Yuh-Jung Yoon, Minari
2. Glenn Close, Hillbilly Elegy
3. Olivia Coleman, The Father
4. Amanda Seyfried, Mank
Also Nominated: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

An overdue win for his work in Widows, Kaluuya is poised to take home the gold on Sunday for his portrayal as Fred Hampton in the 11th-hour entry Judas and the Black Messiah.

Candidly, it’s a pretty weak field this year, which makes me even more disappointed that Alan Kim didn’t sneak in for his turn in Minari. While I do think Kaluuya deserves the win, I honestly wouldn’t be peeved if Sacha Baron Cohen pulled out a surprise victory here.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah
2. Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7
3. Paul Raci, Sound of Metal
4. LaKeith Stanfield, Judas and the Black Messiah
5. Leslie Odom, Jr., One Night in Miami…

Should Have Been Nominated

Alan Kim, Minari

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Winner: Promising Young Woman

I even hesitate predicting this win, because Aaron Sorkin is in this category – and while he has won before, he has yet to win Best Original Screenplay. I’m also torn over whether his Best Director omission will rally the troops to see his win in this category or if it’s indicative of the Academy’s indifference towards his film this year.

Either way, Promising Young Woman remains the frontrunner here, coming into Sunday’s show with a recent BAFTA win in the same category. Of the remaining three, Minari and Judas each have a minimally low chance of upsetting, while Sound of Metal is out of the running on this one.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Promising Young Woman
2. The Trial of the Chicago 7
3. Minari
4. Sound of Metal
5. Judas and the Black Messiah

Should Have Been Nominated

Alone, The Hunt, Another Round

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Winner: The Father

Pundits place Nomadland as the most likely winner here, but I disagree. The film is anything but screenplay-driven, as opposed to movies like The Father and One Night in Miami… which are entirely screenplay-driven. I’m backing The Father because of the intricacies in storytelling and revelations that scarily depict a loss of sanity and stability as one ages. The BAFTAs felt the same way.

AJ’s Rankings

1. The Father
2. Nomadland
3. One Night in Miami…
Also Nominated: The White Tiger & Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Should Have Been Nominated

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

And now, the rest of my predictions and preference, without my commentary.

Best Cinematography

Will Win: Nomadland
Should Win: Nomadland

Best Costume Design

Will Win: Emma
Should Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Film Editing

Will Win: The Trial of the Chicago 7
Should Win: Promising Young Woman

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Should Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Production Design

Will Win: Mank
Should Win: Mank

Best Score

Will Win: Soul
Should Win: Minari

Best Song

Will Win: Speak Now, One Night in Miami

Best Sound

Will Win: Sound of Metal
Should Win: Sound of Metal

Best Visual Effects

Will Win: Tenet
Should Win: Tenet

Best Animated Feature

Will Win: Soul

Best International Feature

Will Win: Another Round

Tallied Predictions

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: 2 wins
Minari: 2 wins
Nomadland: 2 wins
Promising Young Woman: 2 wins
Soul: 2 wins
Another Round: 1 win
Emma: 1 win
The Father: 1 win
Judas and the Black Messiah: 1 win
Mank: 1 win
One Night in Miami…: 1 win
Sound of Metal: 1 win
Tenet: 1 win
The Trial of the Chicago 7: 1 win

2020 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win and Who Should Win?

I can’t remember feeling so torn on an Oscar predictions. The acting categories are pretty much locked, but there’s a three-way tie for Best Picture, a three-way tie for Best Adapted Screenplay, and a two-way tie for Best Original Screenplay.

There are also tight races in less major categories like Score, Animated Film, and Visual Effects (the Academy has never awarded an Avengers film – what makes you think they’ll start now?).

All of that said, predicting this year’s Oscars was insanely difficult. Will the Academy embrace globalization, or will they stick with their bread and butter in the form of a war movie or a movie about movies?

Best Picture

Predicted Winner: Parasite

Allow me to express a bit of self-indulgent self-awareness for a moment. I haven’t predicted a Best Picture winner correctly since 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, which made me hesitant predicting Parasite will win, because, well, I want it to. However – and take this as you will – my gut is just telling me that Parasite is going to pull this thing out.

Parasite won the SAG award and the WGA award – and two huge wings of the Academy are actors and writers. We’re also seeing a groundswell of support for this film. Audiences and critics loved it. Also, a foreign film has never won Best Picture – this worked against Roma last year, but I think it will work for Parasite this year. This movie is more conventional, timely, and approachable than Roma, and if any foreign film to date breaks the Best Picture barrier, I think Parasite has the best chance.

However, we need to consider the two forces that are keeping Parasite from completing its path to victory: 1917 and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

1917 won the PGA (which people take a ton of stock in, but remember The Big Short won this in 2016 and La La Land in 2017), the DGA (which I think just solidifies its win in the Best Director category – more on this later), the Golden Globe (which was awarded by those with no involvement in the Academy), and the BAFTA (but keep in mind the BAFTA also hasn’t aligned on Best Picture with the Oscars since 12 Years a Slave). I still think 1917 may be the frontrunner, which made me a little more comfortable naming Parasite the predicted winner – the frontrunner hasn’t gone on to win Best Picture many times this decade (see: La La Land, The Revenant, etc.).

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is even more head-scratching. It was the frontrunner for a hot sec, but that status seems to have receded. Despite Best Picture wins at the Golden Globes (for Comedy/Musical) and the Critics’ Choice Awards, Hollywood has certainly lost steam in this Best Picture race. The preferential balloting system will likely help its chances, but Tarantino’s divisive nature is likely to hurt those chances. Ask me a month ago, I would’ve said Best Picture is Hollywood’s to lose. Now, I’m not so sure.

As for the other nominees…I think we can count all of them out. The Irishman and Marriage Story have both been largely forgotten, for better or worse (respectively). I guess that’s what happens as a Netflix release.

Of the remaining nominees, we may somehow see Jojo Rabbit take the win, but I honestly don’t see it having enough #1 votes to beat out one of the top three contenders. Joker is too divisive, and – truly – not that great. Little Women and Ford V Ferarri don’t have a vocal enough support base. I don’t feel risky saying neither will be in that envelope on Sunday.

AJ’s Rankings (aka My Personal Preferences):

  1. Parasite
  2. 1917
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. Marriage Story
  5. Ford V Ferarri
  6. Joker
  7. Little Women
  8. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  9. The Irishman

Should Have Been Nominated

Richard Jewell, Bombshell, Honey Boy

Best Director

Predicted Winner: Sam Mendes, 1917

While I think many categories are alive tonight, Best Director seems pretty locked, much like the category has been in recent years. For example, as predicted, Cuarón won last year, Del Toro won the year before, and so on.

This year, Mendes has won the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and the DGA, and he tied at the Critics’ Choice. There’s a chance Bong or Tarantino could sneak in here, but I really wouldn’t count on it, since the Academy will likely award Mendes with the same award he won exactly twenty years ago and recognize his artistic commitment to honoring his family legacy.

Let’s also remember that the Oscars have split Best Picture and Best Director every year since 2015, and have only given a movie both awards twice in this decade (2011’s The Artist and 2014’s Birdman). So if this is a lock for Mendes, it’s unlikely 1917 wins Best Picture. But I digress….

Back to Best Director. As for the other nominees, the love for Irishman has died down, and I think the Academy will honor Joker in Best Actor and call it a night.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Mendes, 1917
  2. Bong, Parasite
  3. Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. Scorcese, The Irishman
  5. Phillips, Joker

Should Have Been Nominated

Eastwood, Richard Jewell; Baumbach, Marriage Story; Har’el, Honey Boy

Best Actor

Predicted Winner: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Let’s begin these acting categories with some raw honesty – these four winners are pretty much set in stone.

For Best Actor, Phoenix – arguably the best actor working today following the retirement Daniel Day-Lewis – has just three prior nominations to show for the immersive performances spanning his filmography. His sweeping victories at this year’s other award ceremonies lead me to believe no one else in the category – save for a sneaky Adam Driver win – has a chance.

However, of the acting categories, this is the one to watch. Working for Joaquin are the success of Joker, and – of course – the quality of his performance in the film. However, Phoenix has been vocal about his disdain for award shows in the past, and his questionable behavior on sets and the mixed reviews for the film might mean the Academy wants to honor someone else on Sunday. Again, I would hope that would be Adam Driver.

While I have you, I’d also like to talk about this pool of nominees. I think they all hand in terrific performances. However, I feel it’s worth mentioning we had an enormous pool of worthy Best Actor contenders this year. Eddie Murphy, Roman Griffin Davis, Adam Sandler, Christian Bale, George McKay, (from what I’ve heard/seen) Taron Egerton, and Robert DeNiro were all worthy of a nomination this year, and should be given credit for their efforts if not by The Academy.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Adam Driver, Marriage Story
  2. Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  4. Antonio Banderas, Pain and Glory
  5. Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes

Should Have Been Nominated

Roman Griffin Davis, Jojo Rabbit; Eddie Murphy, Dolemite is My Name; Christian Bale, Ford V Ferarri

Best Actress

Predicted Winner: Renee Zelwegger, Judy

Another presumed given, it looks like Renee Zellweger will be taking home the trophy on Oscar night.

I just watched Judy this weekend and Zellweger is haunting. Her buzz is justified if not slightly overhyped. That said, Best Actress is where we saw the upset in the acting categories last year, so keep your eyes peeled.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
  2. Renee Zeleweger, Judy
  3. Charlize Theron, Bombshell
  4. Saorsie Ronan, Little Women
    Also Nominated: Cynthia Erivo, Harriet

Should Have Been Nominated

Lupita Nyong’o, Us; Florence Pugh, Midsommar; Rebecca Ferguson, Doctor Sleep

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I love Brad Pitt. He was the best part of Hollywood. And all the other nominees have acting Oscars.

…and that’s all I have to say about that.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  2. Al Pacino, The Irishman
  3. Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
  4. Joe Pesci, The Irishman
    Also Nominated: Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Winner: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Another lock in an acting category. I should be excited about Ellie Sattler winning an Oscar, but I cannot tell you how moved I was by Margot Robbie in Bombshelland how indifferent I was towards Dern’s performance in Marriage Story.

I do understand the politics of the Oscars, and the field this year is weak enough that I guess a career tribute to Laura Dern is understandable – but only if Margot Robbie gets an Oscar someday very soon.

AJ’s Rankings

1. Margot Robbie, Bombshell

4-way tie for “Who Cares?” – Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell; Laura Dern, Marriage Story; Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit; Florence Pugh, Little Women

Should Have Been Nominated

Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell; Thomasin McKenzie, Jojo Rabbit; Park So-dam, Parasite

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Winner: Greta Gerwig, Little Women

I really want Jojo Rabbit to win this award, and to be honest, I think there’s a chance it will given its successes at the BAFTAs and the WGA Awards. However, I think the Academy will succumb to the pressure to award Greta here, especially since she was omitted from the Best Director category.

We could also see The Irishman take a surprise win in this category, but I wouldn’t count on it. We can also safely count out wins for Joker and The Two Popes.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Jojo Rabbit
  2. The Irishman
  3. Little Women
  4. The Two Popes
  5. Joker

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Winner: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

This was my toughest prediction. Let the record show on a prediction level, I’m 50.1% Parasite, 49.9% Hollywood. I’m giving the edge to Parasite because I think the Academy is going to go diverse this year, and because it picked up a BAFTA win and a WGA win (to be fair Hollywood was ineligible).

Hollywood won Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe Awards, but there’s no overlap here in membership with the Academy. There’s still a good chance that Hollywood will woo over the Hollywood crowd, but Tarantino already has two wins in this category, and the Academy may want to share the love. I’d also hedge to say we can count the other contenders out this year – and that’s a shame, because Marriage Story should be more in the running if you ask me.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Parasite
  2. Marriage Story
  3. Knives Out
  4. 1917
  5. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

And here are the rest of my predictions, without AJ commentary.

Best Film Editing

Prediction: Ford v Ferarri
Preference: Parasite

Best Cinematography

Prediction: 1917
Preference: 1917

Best Costume Design

Prediction: Little Women
Preference: Little Women

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Prediction: Bombshell
Preference: 1917

Best Production Design

Prediction: 1917
Preference: 1917

Best Animated Feature

Prediction: Toy Story 4

Best Sound Editing

Prediction: 1917
Preference: 1917

Best Sound Mixing

Prediction: 1917
Preference: 1917

Best Visual Effects

Prediction: 1917
Preference: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Best Original Score

Prediction: 1917
Preference: 1917

Best Song

Prediction: I’m Gonna Love Me Again, Rocketman

Best International Film

Prediction: Parasite
Preference: Parasite

Tallied Wins

1917: 7 wins out of 10 nominations
Parasite: 3 wins out of 6 nominations
Little Women: 2 wins out of 6 nominations
Bombshell: 1 win out of 3 nominations
Ford V Ferarri: 1 win out of 4 nominations
Joker: 1 win out of 11 nominations
Judy: 1 win out of 2 nominations
Marriage Story: 1 win out of 6 nominations
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: 1 win out of 10 nominations
Rocketman: 1 win out of 1 nomination
Toy Story 4: 1 win out of 2 nominations