My Oscar predictions for 2020

Each year, as many of you who follow this blog might know, I make my Oscar predictions.

I’m normally pretty good, with a strike rate usually in the mid 90%.

This year it’s going to be more difficult, because surprisingly at a time when cinema is dominated by Star Wars movies or Marvel or other bonehead super-hero movies, there have been a lot of standout “real” cinema films released.

I say that because Martin Scorcese started what turned out to be a spirited debate last year by claiming that comic book super-hero movies weren’t cinema.

Here is his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times that started it all:

Martin Scorcese is one of the greatest film directors of all time. He’s been nominated for an Oscar more times than any other living director. His films include Taxi Driver, Raging Bull (my favourite), Goodfellas, and most recently The Irishman. 

Essentially, what Scorcese said was that “cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation. It was about characters — the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves.”

He upset a lot of people by saying that the superhero movies have none of that. He was supported by Francis Ford Coppola, another legendary director – director of The Godfather movies, and my second favourite war film of all time – Apocalypse Now – second to Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory.

Anyway, I digress.

Standout films this year, for me, were:

JoJo Rabbit

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Ford vs Ferrari
The Two Popes 
The Irishman

I haven’t seen all the nominated movies this year because I’ve been working on a new novel – Again, I Die – and a new movie – Facing Fear. And I live in Mudgee 4hrs drive out of Sydney and we don’t have a working cinema in town, sadly. So my predictions will be a bit of throwing darts at a board, blindfolded.

However, for me the top film of the year without a doubt was Joker. It was everything I want cinema to be – audacious, challenging, shocking, innovative in craft, and political. It was a movie that could be read either way on the political spectrum. And it was a film that spoke boldly about where we are right now, and where we might well end up. Joker for me was not only the best film of the year, but the best film I’ve seen in a long long time.

For sheer audacity though, it’s hard to beat JoJo Rabbit.

I predict Joker will win a slew of awards but not the top gong, because ultimately the Oscar voters are a bunch of elderly white rich dudes that are fairly conservative in their views. The fact that Joker was a huge financial success, taking in more than $1bn at the box office, will certainly help its chances.

But for me, the big tussle for Best Picture tonight I believe will be between The Irishman, Sam Mendes’ 1917, and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. If The Irishman wins, it will be a huge coup for Netflix, which financed the movie. Traditional distribution shied away from Scorcese’s high production budget – but Netflix with huge resources at its disposal wrote the cheque – and if the movie wins Best Picture tonight it will further validate the position of the streamers in modern filmmaking.

Another film made for streaming was Marriage Story. I didn’t get that movie. There were several much better “kitchen sink” dramas made in the 70s. It gave me no great revelations about the human condition, or the times we live in. Two Popes did that in spades. I loved that movie.

Okay, so here are my predictions. As I say, this year is wide open with so many outstanding movies – but here goes:

Oh, and this year I’m adding the film or person that I believe deserved to win!

Best Picture
The Irishman
BB: Joker

Best Director
Sam Mendes / 1917
BB: Todd Philips / Joker

Best Actor
Joaquin Phoenix / Joker
BB: Joaquin Phoenix / Joker

Best Actress
Renee Zwelleger / Judy
BB: Scarlett Johansson / JoJo Rabbit

Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt / Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: a three way tie between Joe Pesci / The Irishman, Anthony Hopkins / The Two Popes, and Taika Waititi / JoJo Rabbit

Best Supporting Actress
Laura Dern / Marriage Story
BB: Charlize Theron / Bombshell

Best Original Screenplay
Quentin Tarantino / Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: Quentin Tarantino / Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best Adapted Screenplay
Taika Waititi / JoJo Rabbit
BB: Anthony McCarten / The Two Popes

Best Foreign Language Film
BB: Parasite

Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins / 1917
BB: Lawrence Sher / Joker

Best Film Editing
Ford vs Ferarri
BB: Jeff Groth / Joker

Best Sound Mixing:
Ford vs Ferarri
BB: a tie between  Rocketman and Joker

Best Production Design
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Visual Effects
BB: 1917

Original Score
BB: Joker

Original Song
I’m gonna Love me Again / Rocketman
BB: I’m gonna Love me Again / Rocketman

Best Costume Design
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
BB: Dolemite is my Name

Best Makeup & Hair
BB: Dolemite is my Name

Best Documentary
American Factory
BB: Honeyland

Best Animated Feature
Toy Story 4
BB: Frozen 2

Like I said, this year is incredibly hard to pick. I’m currently in LA and I’ll be flying back home tonight while the Oscars are on, so I’ll have to wait until I land Tuesday morning Sydney time to see how I did compared to who actually won.

What was hugely pleasing for me this year though was that there was a bunch of very fine films that were actually made for adults. Scorcese was right – this is cinema. 

4 thoughts on “My Oscar predictions for 2020

  1. Dear Bill, having watched the Oscar’s event on and off last night, it’s interesting to look at your predictions today … and I can’t wait for you to come home to check it all and let us in on what really happened! Hope you had a pleasant trip and that when you do make it back home, not too much damage has happened with the torrential rains and storms we’ve had in your absence 🙂


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