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

AJ’s Top 10 of 2019

Before I get to my top 10 of the year list (which I guess you can just determine by the photo above), I’ve got a quick rant.

I went through the first nine or so months of this year thinking 2019 would be the worst year of movies this decade. I was petrified that when January 1, 2020 came rolling around, I would have to name Avengers: Endgame the best movie of the year.

Thankfully, I realized I was wrong when all of my favorite movies of the year came rolling out between October and December – but at what cost?

I get it – the end-of-year Awards season sprint is real, but I don’t think it’s ever come off as strong as it has this year. Let’s not forget 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road won five Oscars, despite an H1 release date. Get Out went on to win Best Screenplay in 2018, while Black Panther took home four trophies in 2019 – and both of these hits came out in February.

All I’m trying to say is that studios do not need to release all their best movies at the end of the year. It’s exhausting to be a film buff for the first part of the year and consistently see garbage, then have to wait multiple months to see something of merit.

So, in the off chance someone with decision making power in a movie studio is reading this, please distribute your films more evenly in the 2020’s.

Thanks for reading my rant, and enjoy the Top 10 list!

10. Luce

Every year, a few awesome movies slip through the cracks in the eyes of the public. This year, one of them was Luce. The movie follows a high schooler who was adopted by a white American couple after serving as an African child soldier in his youth. When a teacher perceives Luce’s behavior as questionable, things spiral out of control in one of the most fascinating did-he-or-didn’t-he movies I’ve ever seen.

9. Doctor Sleep

Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of this Shining sequel cements him as a filmmaker to watch in this new decade. It holds nothing back in its briskly paced and exciting exploration of what happens to Danny Torrence as an adult, and I didn’t realize how badly I needed this movie in my life until I experienced it first hand.

8. Bombshell

I admittedly went into Bombshell a bit skeptical, expecting an overtly political message movie. Instead, what I saw was a timely, brilliantly acted film, edited so well that it left me in awe.

7. Honey Boy

Honey Boy‘s exploration of the father-son relationship is uplifting, gut-wrenching, saddening, and painfully honest. While it’s at times too therapeutic for Shia – at the film’s expense – it doesn’t overshadow the power of the screenplay, the sincerity of the direction, or the performances of LaBeouf and Noah Jupe.

6. Avengers: Endgame

Gotta give credit where credit’s due. I still think Infinity War is the superior film, but Endgame stands for something greater – and executes well enough to leave Marvel’s millions of fans immensely satisfied thanks to a euphoric final battle, prefaced by an exhilarating adventure and followed by a beautiful sendoff to some of the most popular characters we’ve seen in the past eleven years.

5. Richard Jewell

Another under-seen and under-appreciated gem, Richard Jewell is written, directed, and edited to a T, taking us through the systematic unraveling of a man’s life. Interwoven with heart, humor, relevance, and standout performances from Sam Rockwell and Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell silently demands your attention – and you should listen.

4. Marriage Story

I was fortunate enough to see Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story on the big screen, which made his heartbreaking tale even more immersive. I knew this movie was making my Top 10 when the apartment fight scene was playing out in front of me, where I had to take a moment and make myself aware of what I was watching. Also, Adam Driver is quite possibly career-best.

3. Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit handles its subject matter with a beautiful balance of humor and heart, and boasts star-making performances from young actors Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie. This is also the movie that made me an official Taika Waititi fan.

2. 1917

Sam Mendes, man. Holy crap. I kid you not – there was one scene in this movie that was so amazing that I almost cried during it. A masterpiece in every way, it’s the movie from this year that I’m most excited to rewatch. I toyed with making it my number one, but in my heart, I couldn’t take the spot away from…

1. Parasite

Can you believe it? I can’t. A foreign film is my number one movie of the year. I was floored by its screenplay, production design, themes, direction, and acting. And…that’s all I can really say without giving too much away, since I strongly suggest going into this movie as blindly as possible.

2020 Oscar Nominations: Snubs, Surprises, and Disappointing Omissions

So, let’s address the elephant in the room. This is almost a week late.


This delay was fueled in part by an unusually busy week. It was also fueled by a surprisingly unsurprising list of Oscar nominations. Sure, my face was as agape as everyone’s when the first nominee announced was Kathy Bates, and I have plenty to say about the legendary pool of potential Best Actor nominees. But for the most part – nothing too crazy in my eyes.

So, let’s get started.


The nominees we didn’t hear, but thought that we would.

The Farewell

Lulu Wang’s drama about a Chinese-American girl and her family bidding adieu to their matriarch was on the bubble for multiple categories, but was mentioned zero times on Monday morning. Most notably absent were Awkwafina (in a Golden Globe-winning performance), Zhao Shuzhen’s supporting performance as Nai Nai, and Wang for Best Original Screenplay. Wang and the film itself were also considered dark horses for Best Director and Picture, respectively.

Greta Gerwig

And the internet went wild. To be quite honest – I’m not livid over this one, though I understand and share the frustration over not seeing female representation in this category. I just think people are looking at this situation the wrong way.

My feelings aside, one would think the critical acclaim for Gerwig’s take on Little Women – and the societal pressures of having a female in the category – would have ensured her nomination. Instead, the spot went to Joker’s Todd Phillips.

Dolemite is My Name

Dolemite might be its name, but racking up Oscar nominations is certainly not its game. Ruth E. Carter, who won for last year’s Black Panther, was expected to score a nomination for her work here in the Best Costume Design category. Eddie Murphy was also in the Best Actor running, but I’ll save my comments on that for a bit later.

Taron Egerton & Rocketman

With only one nomination, Rocketman left its fans speechless. Its Sound Design, Costumes, and Hair & Makeup were shut out, while Taron Egerton did not get nominated, despite his nominations at the BAFTAs and the SAG Awards and an upset win at the Golden Globes.

Jennifer Lopez

I haven’t seen Hustlers, so I can’t comment on the quality of JLo’s performance here. That said, I was stunned when I didn’t see her name on the list of nominees. Some had even predicted Lopez would be an upset winner next month, but that won’t be happening now.

Once Upon a Time in Editing

I was elated when I found out Tarantino’s most bloated and unfocused film was not nominated in this category – particularly because Best Picture winners almost always have an Editing nomination. I’m a Tarantino fan – he’s my favorite filmmaker – but I’d be sad if this was the year he won big.

In other word, this snub means Once Upon a Time may not be the Best Picture frontrunner everyone sees it as.

Avengers: Endgame

The magnificent capstone to the Avengers saga walked away with one solitary nomination. While a nomination Best Picture was certainly a long shot, its chances in the technical categories like Sound Editing and Mixing were a lot more likely. Alan Silvestri’s and his now-legendary score were also ignored.

Frozen II

So I’ll be honest – part of me likes Frozen II more than the original. I know that it wasn’t as well received as its predecessor, but its Best Animated Feature nomination was supposed to be set in stone. As Olaf might say, it’s Oscar chances are dead…especially since it likely won’t win in its sole category of Best Original Song


The nominations we didn’t expect to hear – plus all around shockers.

Ford v Ferarri

Widely perceived to be #9 on the list of potential Best Picture nominees, Ford v Ferarri was still a surprise nomination in the category, as The Academy nominates anywhere from 5-10 films. This means there was enough support to get this film a coveted spot on the list. On top of that, it was the first Best Picture nominee to be announced, adding even more to the surprise.

Joker is Everywhere

Even after leading the BAFTA nominees, seeing Joker rack up eleven nominations was head-scratching. Of course Best Actor and Best Score were happening, and given the movie’s surge in recent weeks, its Best Picture nomination was also seen as a given. But Sound? Film Editing? Costumes? Really?

The Best Actor Category

Going into the nominations, I knew two things were for certain: Adam Driver was getting nominated, and Joaquin Phoenix was as well. The remaining three slots were being vied for by seven worthy competitors. In the end, DiCaprio, Banderas, and The Two Popes’ Jonathan Pryce (?) got the spots, keeping Taron Egerton, Robert De Niro, Christian Bale, Eddie Murphy, and Adam Sandler empty-handed. Most disappointing to me personally was Eddie Murphy, whose positivity in this comeback role was infectious.

Kathy Bates & ScarJo

Similar to the Best Actor category, there were two spots (three, given JLo’s absence) up in the air here. Pundits had predicted Zhao Shuzhen would get a spot, with the fifth being a free for all. These two spots went to Globe nominee (and former Oscar winner) Kathy Bates, in addition to Scarlett Johansson – who quickly went from being never nominated to being a double nominee.

1917’s Screenplay Nod

The Farewell, Pain and Glory, and even Booksmart were in the running for that fifth and final slot, but it went to the limited dialogue of 1917. This speaks strongly to its chances of winning in other categories – particularly Best Picture.

Extra Love for Jojo Rabbit

We all knew Jojo would get the Best Picture and Screenplay nods, but Costume, Film Editing, Supporting Actress, and Production Design were all shockers to me. I’m not complaining, though – it was one of my favorites of the year.

Disappointing Omissions

The nominations I had hoped to hear, but knew I wouldn’t.

Uncut Gems

Uncut Gems isn’t even in my Top 10 of the year, but I wanted it to sneak in to the Best Film Editing category for inducing some major anxiety. Also, the kid in me who grew up on Mr. Deeds and Big Daddy would have loved an Adam Sandler nod.

Roman Griffin David & Thomasin McKenzie

I can’t stress enough how large the field of qualified contenders for Best Actor was this year. Regardless, Roman Griffin Davis was a delight in Jojo Rabbit, and I was championing for his nomination. I also think Thomasin McKenzie would have been a welcomed addition in the Best Supporting Actress field.


I was sad to see see Bombshell omitted in more major categories. I was taken aback by how much I loved that movie – particularly its editing, which left me gobsmacked (as did its absence from the Best Editing category).

Doctor Sleep

People really slept on this movie (no pun intended). Not only was its screenplay worthy of more attention, but Rebecca Ferguson was seducing and gut-wrenching in her turn as Rose the Hat, and it’s a shame she hasn’t been giving more attention.


This underseen independent film was the first great movie I saw in 2019. There was a ton to love in it, but I want to highlight its daring original screenplay for its commentary on race and youth, and its deliberate and effective ambiguity.


Another movie I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but apparently, I was the biggest fan of Florence Pugh’s performance and the cinematography. Like for Astor’s Hereditary, the leading lady and its chilling visuals were ignored here. To say that both were beautiful is an understatement.

Honey Boy

I left Honey Boy thinking it reminded me of both The Florida Project and mid90′s – both of which collectively received one nomination. Turns out it was more like those movies than I realized. Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay nominations should have been strongly considered (in my opinion).

Richard Jewell

Damn this movie was good. My political eye is thinking maybe The Academy didn’t like its commentary on the power of the media and the government. Or maybe they just didn’t like it.

In my eyes, it should have been a lock for Best Picture, Director, Editing, and Screenplay, with legitimate chances at Best Actor and Supporting Actor.


The original score for this movie became so instantly iconic that someone went viral after putting it over the Cats. Also, if we’re talking dream nominees, Lupita should be here for Best Actress. It wasn’t as good as Get Out, but some inclusion would have been nice here.

The Oscars air on February 9, 2020. Stay tuned for my predictions post coming out on February 2, 2020.