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Oscars 2020: Our Final Nominations Selections, Ranked for Each Category

Warner's "Joker," Netflix's "The Irishman" and, Sony's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" are vying for the most Oscar nominations.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” premiere


The 2020 Oscar race will come down to four popular films. Not only does the Academy not need an Oscar host, again, but more big-grossers than ever will vie for spots on the final Oscar ballot to be revealed January 13. Which means more people will likely tune into the Oscar show, rooting for mainstream movies they actually care about.

Two global hits, Todd Phillips’ $1 billion blockbuster “Joker,” (Warner Bros.) and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (Sony) are in contention for multiple categories including Best Picture, with by my count, 9 and 12 likely nominations each. Writer-director Phillips took his comedy chops and applied them to a period drama with a riveting performance by Phoenix at its core. But as impeccably crafted as the movie is, the ungainly mix of DC origin myth and social realism missed SAG and DGA nominations. And the film holds up a mirror to our society that makes some people cringe.

Racking up as many as 12 nominations will be Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which lovingly recreates a showbiz period long past of cowboys, manly men, and crazy hippies. It celebrates the power of movie stars, as Tarantino staples Leonardo DiCaprio (“Django Unchained”) and Brad Pitt (“Inglourious Basterds”) are funny, poignant and often brilliant as past-his-prime western star Rick Dalton (trying to recover his mojo), and his loyal driver and stuntman Cliff Booth, who looks fab without his shirt and can still command his pit bull terrier while tripping his brains out, along with Margot Robbie as sweet rising actress Sharon Tate, who is married to director Roman Polanski. The Academy embraces and understands this movie: it’s about them.

Bragging rights may still wind up with Netflix’s Best Picture candidate, Martin Scorsese’s epic period gangster saga “The Irishman,” which boasted a limited arthouse release along with a lavish promotional campaign, and has been widely viewed on the global streaming platform. It could get 10 nods. But while Scorsese and his venerable cast are revered, there is still resistance to the streamer winning Best Picture.

New Zealand auteur Taika Waititi’s Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight) broke out of the pack at the Toronto International Film Festival with the audience prize won by many eventual Best Picture winners, from “Slumdog Millionaire” to “Green Book.” It’s a robust arthouse hit with mixed reviews, which is unusual. But judging from its perfect Guild performance, the movie is supported in all quarters — and could land five nominations.

Also in the hunt is this year’s record-breaking Korean Oscar entry “Parasite” (Neon), which has scored $130 million worldwide to date, and picked up a foreign-language Golden Globe win, but is expected to garner seven nominations. In fact, “Parasite” is on such an upward trajectory that it could steal Best Director or even Best Picture from current favorite Tarantino. With 20% of the Academy now international, this has a shot at some big wins.

The Irishman

“The Irishman”


Four of these films — “The Irishman,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Parasite” — have almost perfect scores on guild nominations, showing strong support from both actors and crafts, including SAG Ensemble, DGA, PGA, and WGA nods (Tarantino is ineligible). Both “Joker,” whose star Joaquin Phoenix could win Best Actor, and Sam Mendes’ one-take war movie “1917” missed SAG Ensemble; arguably, the late release of “1917″ may have missed some early SAG votes. Even without acting nods, it could nab seven nominations.

The number of nominations doesn’t always mean much when it comes to winning Best Picture: “Green Book” won with four, and without a SAG Ensemble nod.

Writer-directors and life partners Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig are vying for nominations with their films “Marriage Story” (Netflix) and “Little Women” (Sony), which both boast more support from writers and actors than from the crafts. “Marriage Story” star Adam Driver is up against Phoenix for Best Actor, while Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh could score nominations as March sisters Jo and Amy in “Little Women.” Or not. Both films should wind up with Screenplay nominations, for Original and Adapted, respectively. “Marriage Story” could wind up with as many as seven and “Little Women” with as few as three Oscar slots.


Universal Pictures

Both “1917” and “Ford v Ferrari” have considerable support from the crafts, but Mendes’ DGA-nominated war movie boasts more gravitas than James Mangold’s well-executed but deceptively simple race-car entertainment, which could score six spots.

Movies with primary support from actors include “Judy” (Roadside Attractions), whose Globe-winning star Renée Zellweger will vie for Best Actress against Charlize Theron, star of SAG Ensemble nominee “Bombshell,” which could score three nominations; indie hit “The Farewell” (A24), starring Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen, which could get four nominations; “Rocketman” (Paramount), starring musical Globe-winner Taron Egerton as flamboyant Elton John, who won the Globe for Best Song; and box-office hit “Harriet” (Focus Features), starring lauded British singer-actress Cynthia Erivo.

Beyond the top five contenders for Best Picture, the field could contain up to 10 nominees, depending on how passionate voters are this year. While inclusion is still a strong factor with an increasingly diverse voting body, only female directing nominee Gerwig (“Lady Bird”) is a longshot for a Best Director slot this year — and she’s up against Baumbach for the fifth slot. They could knock each other out.

Only 32 percent of Academy voters, however, are women. So we could also see the Academy’s dominant white-male contingent swing toward “The Irishman,” “Joker,” and “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Historically, stats reveal that most movies need a SAG Ensemble nomination to win, but SAG winners don’t always match up with Best Picture wins. Last year’s Ensemble winner was Marvel’s “Black Panther,” preceded by Searchlight’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Hidden Figures.” Back in 2015, Ensemble winner “Spotlight” lined up with a Best Picture win. Rare exceptions to the rule are 2019’s Best Picture winner “Green Book,” which like “The Shape of Water,” lacked a SAG Ensemble nomination but won anyway. Best Picture nominees “The Favourite,” “The Revenant” and “La La Land” also missed SAG Ensemble nominations.



In the foreign film race, three frontrunners are Neon’s Palme d’Or winner “Parasite,” Amazon’s “Les Miserables,” and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Pain and Glory,” which could also land a Best Actor slot for Cannes winner Antonio Banderas. The other two nominees are likely Mati Diop’s hailed Cannes entry “Atlantics” (Senegal) and Hungary’s holocaust survival drama “Those Who Remained,” or possibly, Neon’s Macedonian documentary “Honeyland.”

In the documentary race, Netflix’s Chinese-American factory saga “American Factory,” Neon’s Macedonian beekeeper profile “Honeyland” and archival feat “Apollo 11,” and Amazon’s China exposé “One Child Nation” should land slots. Of the two extraordinary Syrian films in contention, IDA-winner “For Sama” (Channel 4 and PBS) has grabbed more attention than “The Cave” (NatGeo).

Here are my final Oscar predictions, in order of likelihood to win. We learn the results at the crack of dawn on January 13.

Best Picture
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (Sony)
“Parasite” (Neon)
“The Irishman” (Netflix)
“Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight)
“1917” (Universal)
“Joker” (Warner Bros.)
“Marriage Story” (Netflix)
“Little Women” (Sony)
“Ford v Ferrari” (Disney/Fox)
“The Farewell” (A24)

Best Director
Bong Joon Ho (“Parasite”)
Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”)
Sam Mendes (“1917”)
Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”)

Best Actor
Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”)
Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”)
Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”)
Christian Bale (“Ford v Ferrari”)

Best Actress
Renee Zellweger (“Judy”)
Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”)
Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”)
Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”)
Awkwafina (“The Farewell”)

Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Tom Hanks (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”)
Al Pacino (“The Irishman”)
Joe Pesci (“The Irishman”)
Song Kang Ho (“Parasite”)

Best Supporting Actress
Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”)
Scarlett Johansson (“Jojo Rabbit”)
Florence Pugh (“Little Women”)
Margot Robbie (“Bombshell”)
Zhao Shuzhen (“The Farewell”)

Best Adapted Screenplay
Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”)
Steve Zaillian (“The Irishman”)
Anthony McCarten (“The Two Popes”)
Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”)
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver (“Joker”)

Best Original Screenplay
Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”)
Quentin Tarantino (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won (“Parasite”)
Pedro Almodovar (“Pain and Glory”)
Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”)

Best Animated Feature
“I Lost My Body”
“Toy Story 4”
“Frozen II”
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
“Missing Link”

Best Animated Short
“Hair Love”
“Mind My Mind”
“The Physics of Sorrow”

Best Live Action Short
“The Neighbors’ Window”
“A Sister”
“Little Hands”

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins (“1917”)
Robert Richardson (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Lawrence Sher (“Joker”)
Rodrigo Prieto (“The Irishman”)
Phedon Papamichael (“Ford v Ferrari”)

Best Costumes
Ariane Phillips (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Ruth E. Carter (“Dolemite Is My Name”)
Julian Day (“Rocketman”)
Mark Bridges (“Joker”)
Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson (“The Irishman”)

Best Documentary Feature
“American Factory”
“For Sama”
“Apollo 11”
“One Child Nation”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“Fire in Paradise” (Netflix)
“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl)” (Lifetime Films, A&E IndieFilms)
“Life Overtakes Me” (Netflix)
“Stay Close” (New York Times Op-Docs)
“Walk Run Cha-Cha” (New York Times Op-Docs)

Best Editing
“The Irishman”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Marriage Story”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Parasite” (South Korea)
“Pain and Glory” (Spain)
“Les Miserables” (France)
“Those Who Remained” (Hungary)
“Atlantics” (Senegal)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Dolemite Is My Name”

Best Production Design
Dennis Gassner (“1917”)
Barbara Ling (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)
Lee Ha Jun (“Parasite”)
Mark Friedberg (“Joker”)
Bob Shaw (“The Irishman”)

Best Original Score
Hildur Guðnadóttir (“Joker”)
Thomas Newman (“1917”)
Michael Giacchino (“Jojo Rabbit”)
Randy Newman (“Marriage Story”)
Alberto Iglesias (“Pain and Glory”)

Best Original Song
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (Elton John, “Rocketman”)
“Into the Unknown” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, “Frozen 2”)
“Stand Up” (Cynthia Erivo, Joshua Campbell, “Harriet”)
“Speechless” (Alan Menken, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul, Naomi Scott, “Aladdin”)
“Spirit” (Ilya Salmanzadeh, Labrinth, Beyoncé, “The Lion King”)

Best Sound Editing
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker”
“Avengers: Endgame”

Best Sound Mixing
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
“Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker”

Best Visual Effects
“Avengers Endgame”
“The Lion King”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
“The Irishman”
“Alita: Battle Angel”

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