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Three Critics, 24 nominations with 65 total predictions for 2020


(020120) The 92nd Annual Academy Awards (aka: Oscars) will be held on Sunday, February 9th at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, and will be shown on ABC. The Academy continues the tradition it began last year of televising the show host-less (thank you Kevin Hart)

This marks our 14th Academy Awards predictions (see the links above for our previous 13) and as in past years we invited our critics to weigh in with their predictions for this years Oscar race and once again they rose to the task. Back again is reviewer emeritus "Good Old JR" Jim Rutkowski. He is again being joined by our newsman emeritus Larry "Bocepheus" Evans and our art house critic "Big Tuna" Vito Carli has also returned as well. Each turned in their reviews early and as always they are all thoughtfully done. Of the 24 principle categories this year (all listed below) none of our titanic trio of critics tackled every single nomination, but all were given the option. "None picked" means the reviewer chose to skip that category for whatever reason. Out of the 24 categories there are sixty-five predictions by all three reviewers.  Vito logged in with 23 picks while JR and Bo both tackled 21 categories. I want to thank all three of our stalwart cinephile's  for taking the time to make and elucidate their picks.

A word on the format: If you are reading this before February 9th the order of the nominations conforms to the order awards were announced at the 2019 Oscar telecast. If this years order deviates from last years, the appropriate structural change to this list will be made after this years telecast to conform with the 2020 broadcast. Beyond that (and the final tally) no edits will be made to this list. The linked film titles below are to reviews on this site for the film being cited. The links themselves do not correspond to the reviewers themselves but rather to the review located on this site. The one exception is the
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" review which both JR and Vito tackled in 2019. Their reviews are combined into a single "Review-A-Palooza" page.

Finally, because of the time constraints of your truly, there will be no Oscar Picks Podcast by our critics this year. Below are some of their previous efforts. Thanks again gentlemen.



Our Picks for the 91st Annual Academy Awards



Our Picks for the 90th Annual Academy Awards


A discussion of and predictions for the 2017 Oscars

Enjoy, good luck to all and pass the popcorn...


If there’s one habit that distinguishes today’s Academy voters from those a generation prior, it’s that they prefer to spread the wealth. The avalanche of Oscars that fell into the arms of The English Patient, Titanic, and Return of the King does not come around much anymore; in the 2010's, no movie ever won more than "Gravity’s" seven. But this year, thanks to voters concentrating their favor on a small handful of films, four different contenders came away from nomination morning with the chance to score double-digit trophies: "1917", "The Irishman", "Joker", and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood". Of that quartet, "1917" seems likely to end up the night’s biggest winner, as the film’s victories at the precursors have strengthened its Best Picture case, and its myriad technical accomplishments should bolster its chances in the crafts categories. A sweeping middlebrow epic with a British pedigree, "1917" can feel like a slight throwback to an earlier Oscar era. A film that I found to be middle of the road. More of a technical achievement, less involving as a narrative. Will its awards haul also give us flashbacks to those ’90s ceremonies?
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Best 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"
Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood", It may seem like an obvious and safe prediction, but the Academy loves to give their awards to the obvious and safe choice. In this case, that choice is Brad Pitt. Yeah, yeah, he’s good in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood", but we’re really all just hoping he shows up to the Oscars with Jennifer Aniston as his date, right? Kidding. The only potential for a surprise upset in this category lies with Joe Pesci, who (thankfully) came out of retirement to remind us all just how great of an actor he is with "The Irishman". But really, the Oscars rarely surprise us, so expect Pitt to give the acceptance speech.
My pick: Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" Pesci and Pacino block each other out. Hopkins and Hanks give great performances but this is Pitt’s hands down. It’s a confident assured performance that to me was astounding.

Will win: Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Should win: Joe Pesci
Tough call here. Al of the nominees are worthy. I liked Pesci (who is more restrained than usual) the best,  but the two "The Irishman" performances are both worthy  (Pacino is delightfully over the top) and the dual nominations will probably split the vote, so Pitt who has never been better, and was  in a very popular and critically acclaimed film will win.
Best Animated Feature Film
"How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World"
"I Lost My Body"
"Missing Link"
"Toy Story 4"
"Toy Story 4", More gold for Pixar

My pick: Frozen 2 didn’t get a nod and that for some reason is controversial. This is a weak category to me since none of these films knocked me off my feet so I am going with the easy pick of "Toy Story 4".

Will win: The best foreign film I saw in years (Weathering With You) played some places (not Chicago) early enough to qualify, but the academy rejected it. Because of its name recognition I will go with "Toy Story 4".
Nothing on the list should win.

Best Animated– Short
"Hair Love"
"Dcera" (Daughter)
None picked

None picked

None picked
Best Original Screenplay
"Marriage Story"
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
"Knives Out"
Once "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood", Like a responsible parent, Oscar voters like to give their Best Picture picks enough love that they feel appreciated, but not so much that they get spoiled. Accordingly, in the modern era a movie that wins the top prize also usually takes home Director or Screenplay, but not both. "1917" feels much more a directing achievement than a writing one, making this space the perfect spot for voters to reward Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
My pick: This award could go to any of these nominees and I would be happy but for sheer complication I am picking Rian Johnson over Tarantino for the masterful mystery: "Knives Out".

Will win: Once "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is a cinema story which will appeal to cinema lovers in the academy, and the area Tarantino excels most in is screenplay writing (he is also a fine director though). "Marriage Story" is also excellent and has a shot in this category (its dialogue is true, realistic true and hard hitting.)
Best Adapted Screenplay
"The Irishman"
"Jojo Rabbit"
"Little Women"
"The Two Popes"
"Little Women", What director and screen writer do with "Little Women" is transformative. By shuffling the narrative out of sequence, we learn so much more about what motivates the characters decisions. Also, the fast paced dialogue adds comedic juice to every scene.
My pick: Zaillian for "The Irishman". Phillips and Silver could win here for "Joker" but exactly what comic book arc was the film based on?

Will and should win: "The Irishman" story masterfully takes us through the lives of several generations of men which should appeal to many Oscar voters which tend to be older. It is also a superb piece of work. "Jojo Rabbit" had a marvelous, weirdly appealing script but the ideas in the film were better than the actual finished film.
Best Live Action – Short Film
"Nefta Football Club"
"The Neighbors' Window"
"A Sister"
None picked
None picked
None picked
Best Production Design
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
"The Irishman"
"Jojo Rabbit"
Once "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood", The depiction of late 1960's California will hit close to home for many voters.
My pick: "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" recreates an entire era. 1917 is a period piece. Rabbit is a quirky fantasy. "Parasite" is just damn unique. I am going with "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".
Should and will Win: Once "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" effectively transported viewers into the 60s.
Best Costume Design
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
"Little Women"
"The Irishman"
"Jojo Rabbit"
"Little Women", all of this years Nominees are period pieces so there are no easy picks.

My pick: So the options here are period clothing, period clothing, period clothing, period clothing and period clothing. The Academy really put themselves out here didn’t they? I think this will be a "Joker" night as far as minor awards so I am picking "Joker".

Will and should win: When I think of the year’s cinematic costumes, images from "Little Women" immediately come to mind.
Best Documentary – Feature
"American Factory"
"The Edge of Democracy"
"For Sama"
"The Cave"
American Factory, this Netflix doc about a Chinese company opening a factory in Dayton, Ohio a thoughtful – and troubling – look at the dynamic between workers and employers in the 21st-century globalized economy. Since my favorite doc Apollo 11 wasn't even nominated, this is the next best thing.

My pick: American Factory, just a hunch I have since it’s relevant now.


Will and should win: The Cave
It’s still a four or five film horse race. The Edge of Democracy (about political scandals and corruption in Brazil) and American Factory (about business problems in China and the US) each have a shot because they are on Netflix, and they might have been seen by more people than the rest. Honeyland, which tackles the hot issue of climate change might benefit from the continued popularity of the Obamas (it was made by their production company.). But The Cave was the one I read about the most (it got lots of coverage in Film Comment), so I will go with that one. The academy traditionally makes the worst choices in this category.
Best Documentary – Short Subject
"In the Absence"
"Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)"
"Life Overtakes Me"
"St. Louis Superman"
"Walk Run Cha-Cha"
None picked
None picked
Once again, "Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)" has the best title and the most promising concept.

Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates, "Richard Jewell"
Laura Dern, "Marriage Story"
Scarlett Johansson, "Jojo Rabbit"
Florence Pugh, "Little Women"
Margot Robbie, "Bombshell"
Laura Dern, The "Marriage Story" actress is utterly captivating to watch in her role as Johansson’s divorce lawyer. She somehow manages to simultaneously make us hate and love her, disagree with her and, miraculously, totally understand her. Dern’s Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actress also indicates that she likely holds a slight edge over her competition—and it really is stiff competition. Pugh steals the show (well, along with Gerwig’s un-nominated direction) in Little Women, which also happens to star Dern. And Margot Robbie delivers a strong performance in Bombshell. But Dern is sure to take home the statuette—a well-deserved win for an actress that has been doing great work for years.

My pick: Bombshell, Dern seems to be the favorite here but for some reason I am picking Robbie for Bombshell.


Will Win: Margot Robie-She has momentum, and she even elevates bad films ("Suicide Squad" comes to mind) and she has been on a hot streak for years. I just love her work. Kathy Bates was excellent She is always terrific in American Horror Story), and she is very well respected, but the film she was in was neither a huge box office or giant critical hit. Laura Dern may have a better shot.

Should win: Of the performances that I saw, Florence Pugh stood out the most, and if the film does not get rewarded in other areas it might win in this category. But she is not exactly a big name and she will probably have to wait. Scarlett was fine in
"Jojo Rabbit", but she was far better in "Marriage Story", which was one of her career high points.
Best Sound Editing
"Ford v Ferrari"
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
"1917", although the vroom vroom's of Ford v Ferrari are a possibility for the pole position, never count out the war movie.
My pick: "Joker", this is a coin flip and "Joker" won in the final round but I would pick Ford vs. Ferrari if I was voting and since I am not "Joker" wins here.

Should and Will win: "1917", the army battle sounds stood out more than the sounds from  any other film.
Best Sound Mixing
"Ford v Ferrari"
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
"Ad Astra"
"1917", it's a given. Whatever wins for best sound editing, takes this trophy home as well.
My pick: It’s a "Joker" night for the minor awards but "1917" could sneak a win here.
Should Win and will win: "1917", although this could be the one category, "Ad Astra" has a shot at.
Best Cinematography
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
"The Irishman"
"The Lighthouse"
"1917", Roger Deakins had to wait decades before taking home his first Oscar, finally winning two years ago for "Blade Runner: 2049." The wait for his second should be shorter. 1917’s single-take conceit is its big creative showstopper, and credit for that achievement will duly go to Deakins.
My pick: "1917", to me it’s a competition between cinematographer gods when you have Deakins face off against Richardson. The other three are just watching from the sidelines. "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" is freaking gorgeous and the "1917" mixes light and shadow depending on the location but there are no ties here and so I will go with Deakins for "1917".
Will win: "1917"
Should win: "1917" or "The Lighthouse". I am a bit biased but I love Roger Deakins’ work (including "1917"), and he always manages to give his films distinctive, memorable looks. He has done some of his best work for Denis Villeneuve and the Coen brothers as well as “The Assassination of Jessie James.” The only drawback is that he just recently got an Oscar and they might want to spread the wealth around. My backup pick would be Rodrigo Prieto who did great work on "The Irishman" capturing the look of whatever photography was big in the era they are depicting. The cinematography of "The Lighthouse" (in glorious black and white) was probably the most creative but the film and the camera work might have been too experimental for the mostly middle brow Oscar voters, plus it was not as widely seen as the other films.
Best Film Editing
"The Irishman"
"Ford v Ferrari"
"Jojo Rabbit"
Ford v Ferrari
My pick: No losers here but I am going to go with "The Irishman".

Will and should win: "The Irishman", but it looked better on the big screen.
Best Visual Effects
"Avengers: Endgame"
"The Lion King"
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"
"The Irishman"
"The Lion King", The Academy likes to reward prestige pictures in the visual-effects category, so while many pundits are pegging "Avengers: Endgame" for the win, the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gone zero-for-nine makes me think there’s an opening here. "The Lion King" took the top prize at the Visual Effects Society awards. It's probably the likely winner.
My pick: "Avengers: Endgame". So many impressive effects shots packed within a film that made a crap load of money and was damn good.
Will win: "Avengers: Endgame" was quite visually impressive and a box office champ. "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" has a shot too.

Should win: "1917" is superior to the other nominees in every way.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
"Maleficent: Mistress of Evil"
"Bombshell", it's one thing to transform Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly. But putting Jon Lithgow into a fat suit to play Roger Ailes is just goofy enough to work.

My pick: Another so-so collection of nominees and I am picking "Joker" just because of Phoenix’s creepy "Joker" face.

Should and will win: I did not see the Maleficent sequel, but I caught the first one and previews and Jolie is visually stunning and an essential part of her look was the hair. "Joker" is a likely winner if Maleficent 2 loses.
Best Foreign Language Film
South Korea, "Parasite"
Spain, "Pain and Glory"
France, "Les Misérables"
North Macedonia, "Honeyland"
Poland, "Corpus Christi"
"Parasite", It was my favorite film of 2019. But foreign films never win best picture Oscars. So this will be its reward. But I implore everyone to seek it out. It's rewards are many.

My pick: "Parasite". Unique and compelling; not much of a horse race here. It will not win Best Picture so here’s the consolation prize.

Will and should win: Well, since it was one of the only non American films that was ever nominated for best pic, it only stands to reason that "Parasite" will win in this category, and the film is a masterpiece. I was very surprised that the highly touted Lady on Fire was not nominated which some international critics preferred to "Parasite".
Best Original Score
"1917," Thomas Newman
"Joker," Hildur Guðnadóttir
"Little Women," Alexandre Desplat
"Marriage Story," Randy Newman
"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," John Williams
"Joker": Hildur Guðnadóttir, One of the few admirable elements of "Joker" is its aurally unusual score. It's too bad it wasn't used in a better film.
My pick: It’s nice to see Randy Newman doing scores again but I am going with Newman for 1917.

Will and should win: John Williams is probably the best known composer that was nominated.
Best Original Song
"I'm Standing With You," "Breakthrough"

"Into the Unknown," "Frozen II"

"Stand Up," "Harriet"

"(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," "Rocketman"

"I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away," "Toy Story 4"
"(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again": Rocketman, Elton John wins an Oscar. The film itself is a better one then the Freddie Mercury biopic. And this closing song will take home some Academy love.
Is it me or are these some of the weakest song nominees ever? None of these do anything for me and I am a huge Elton fan. And so with great reluctance I am picking "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," "Rocketman".
Will and should win: I liked the Stand Up song from "Harriet" the best because out of all the choices it sounds the least like sonic wallpaper. The first two choices did not do anything for me.
Best 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"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Joker": He is going to win. It’s a strong performance, but it’s not unlike any he’s ever given. He was equally hypnotic and disturbing in “The Master” and “You Were Never Really Here.” It’s no surprise. It’s on brand for Phoenix, we’ve seen him do it before. His commitment to a part is extraordinary.
My pick: We have another sure thing here with Phoenix walking away with the statue for "Joker" which means he and Heath Ledger will have won Oscars for playing the same character. The dark horse could be DiCaprio who gave an amazing performance in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".
Will win: Phoenix is a superb actor and he was marvelous in "Joker" (although not as good as Ledger’s take on the character), but he was just as good or better in Many other movies (like "You Were Never Really Here".) DiCaprio also has a shot if there is a comic film shutout. I think Phoenix will get the award for his whole career. He is a marvelous actor, and he definitely is Oscar worthy (he was already nominated four times) and I hope he eventually wins, but not for this film,

Should win: Adam Driver (like Ronan and Robie) is on a winning streak, and his portrayal of a decent, but flawed husband with an unraveling marriage in
"Marriage Story" really shows what he can do. But the most daring, edgy and unforgettable performance (Adam Sandler in "Uncut Jewels") was not even nominated. He was probably overlooked because he made too many bad films.
Best Actress
Cynthia Erivo, "Harriet"
Scarlett Johansson, "Marriage Story"
Saoirse Ronan, "Little Women"
Renée Zellweger, "Judy"
Charlize Theron, "Bombshell"
Renée Zellweger, "Judy": OK, to say this is a stacked category would be an understatement. But this award is definitely Zellweger’s to lose. Her performance as Judy Garland in "Judy" was transformative. Some might make the same argument about Charlize Theron’s portrayal of Megyn Kelly in "Bombshell", but did Theron also sing?! Not to mention, we’ve already awarded Theron for being totally unrecognizable in a role (remember "Monster"?). Zellweger’s performance in this biopic has everything that the Oscars look for: drama, tears and the portrayal of a deeply flawed musical icon (Rami Malek in "Bohemian Rhapsody," anyone?).
My pick: The odds seem to favor Zellweger for Judy but it drew no box office and she was supposedly the best thing in the film. Ronan is well liked; Erivo is great but too young; Theron could win but I think this award goes to Johansson for "Marriage Story".
Will win: Judy is the least worthy selection, although Zellweger was fine; but I am going with it because it won the Golden Globe, which is a decent Oscar predictor.

Should win: Ronan was absolutely brilliant in "Little Women", and two other recent pictures (Brooklyn and Ladybird) but the academy sometimes tends to disproportionately honor old timers (what else could explain Streep’s recent nom's for mediocre performances.)
Best Director
Martin Scorsese, "The Irishman"
Quentin Tarantino, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Bong Joon-ho, "Parasite"
Sam Mendes, "1917"
Todd Phillips, "Joker"
Sam Mendes, 1917, Picture-director splits are more common in the era of the preferential ballot, and with "Parasite" thriving, Bong Joon Ho has become a popular Best Director pick, especially as his film’s likely win in Best International Feature should put a damper on its Best Picture chances. Even so, Mendes got a big boost with his win at the DGAs, as the two directing prizes have only diverged three times in the past 20 years. Consider 1917 to have the edge in this race, too.
My pick: Mendes has already won the Directors Guild award so he’s a foregone conclusion. His winning is a lock since the Oscars always go with the DGA winner. There was some controversy here over Greta Gerwig not getting a nomination for "Little Women" but when you pick 9 Best Films then 4 directors aren’t going to get the nod.
Will win- Tarantino. Well, it is a pretty close race, but Scorsese’s epic reputation and the film’s status as one of his best films in years could win the day, But Tarantino is immensely popular and he did make a great Hollywood film so he gets the slight nod. God I hope it is not The "Joker" (it would be a crime if it won after "Dark Knight" was rejected). Phillips should not have even been nominated.

Should win: Both Scorsese and Joon-ho did work which was perhaps more ground breaking, but the academy usually does not usually honor the most ground breaking films.
Best Picture
"Ford v Ferrari"
"The Irishman"
"Jojo Rabbit"
"Little Women"
"Once Upon a Hollywood"
"Marriage Story"
"1917" has won at the Golden Globes. It has won at the Producers Guild Awards, which are determined by the same kind of preferential ballot as the Oscars. It has won at the Directors Guild Awards, which are chosen by the industry’s most discerning artistes. With the exception of its SAG snub, it’s won everywhere, from everyone. In a season where momentum is paramount, "1917" looks like the one to beat. It's win wouldn't be the debacle that last years "Green Book" was. But "1917" is certainly not the best film of the year. However, if "Parasite" should sneak in under the wire, listen for a delighted yell in the distance. That will be me.
My pick: Okay with Mendes winning Director the way it usually goes is the film he/she directs gets Best Picture but there have been cases in which it hasn’t and I think that will be the case here. "Parasite" is winning in the foreign film category; "Jojo Rabbit" is too quirky; "Ford vs. Ferrari" lingered in theaters for longer than expected; no on "Little Women"; "Marriage Story" and "The Irishman" are Netflix films. So that leaves in my opinion, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" and "Joker". Hollywood is the easy bet but I have a feeling "Joker" could steal a win here. But the monkey wrench in all this is the Producers Guild Award which went to "1917" so against all odds since it’s not a major draw "1917" will get the statue.
Will win: "Jojo Rabbit" is too controversial and quirky, so it won’t win. Comic related films and foreign films don’t win best picture, so "Joker" and Parasite are out. Scorsese probably alienated some younger academy voters and Hollywood insiders with his dismissal of comic films so he might not get in. "1917" is the type of solid and substantial middle brow film that does not rock the boat too much that the academy usually goes for and it won a Golden Globe so it will blast through to victory.

Should win: I am going with "The Irishman" but then again I am a Scorsese fanatic. To me he is the greatest living film maker in American and David Lynch is his only competition. But I would also be positively delighted if "Parasite" won. The rest of the nominees are not in the same league and don’t even come close to that level of quality, but then again I did not see "Ford vs. Ferrari".


JR's total: 21 predictions out of 24 categories. 15 right
BO's total: 21 predictions out of 24 categories.  8 right
Vito's total: 23 predictions out of 24 categories. 9 right

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