The 92nd Academy Awards are on Sunday night, meaning another movie is joining the group of Best Picture winners that dates back to the late 1920s. Movie fans will get to see if Parasite can beat any of the "white male rage" movies up for the top prize to become the first foreign-language Best Picture winner. Joaquin Phoenix will likely finally get that award he deserved to get years ago for his other great performances, while Renee Zellweger's comeback tour will be celebrated with her second Oscar.
Once again, there is a lot of hand-wringing about who was not nominated this year, but we have to deal with what the nominees are, not what we wish them to be. It's still heartbreaking that Little Women's Greta Gerwig and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood's Marielle Heller missed the Best Director group, along with many other excellent female directors. It hurts that Lupita Nyong'o was not nominated for giving two chilling performances in Us and it doesn't make any sense why The Irishman's Robert De Niro missed the cut.
With that out of the way, here's a look at who will win and should win on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. The show starts at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Sam Mendes' 1917 looks like a lock to win Best Picture. The film has everything a war movie needs to get the Academy's attention, and the one-take gimmick really puts you on the frontlines of Word War I. The issue is that many other great films have tackled the pointlessness of war — especially one with politics as confusing as The Great War — in the past, and some of them have even won Best Picture before. While Parasite should win, 1917's various guild wins give it a leg up on the rest of the field.
In a most perfect world, Greta Gerwig's ingenious adaptation of Little Women would win. Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon A Time in Hollywood would have also had a shot in any other year. Again though, 1917 took the momentum from everything else and unfortunately, sometimes the Oscars are a race.prevnext
Remarkably, there are really no wild cards in the Best Director race, as all five nominees are filmmakers behind Best Picture nominees. This is actually a big trend this year, as the nine B.P. nominees dominated, with four films earning 10 or more nominations. There are only 53 different films nominated this year, including the shorts.
Anyway, since Best Picture and Best Director splits are no longer rarities, this could be a space for Bong Joon-ho to win Best Director for Parasite. Although voters might see the one-take idea for 1917 as a genius move by Mendes and give him the award. (Mendes won back in 1999 for his first film, American Beauty.)
Tarantino should finally win Best Director though. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood proves he can make a deliberately well-paced movie about characters without relying heavily on violence (aside from the climax).prevnext
The Acting Field
The acting filed this season has been remarkably consistent and it would be a real stunner if Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Renee Zellweger (Judy) and Laura Dern (Marriage Story) lost.
That said, Antonio Banderas should win Best Actor for his exquisite performance on Pedro Almodovar's autobiographical Pain and Glory.
Scarlett Johansson's performance as Jojo's mother in Jojo Rabbit was easily the best part of that film, and should win Best Supporting Actress. That one seems like the only acting surprise that could really happen.prevnext
Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won will win Best Original Screenplay for Parasite, as they should. Tarantino has won this award twice before, and 1917's lack of dialogue probably gives it little chance here. In the same perfect world where Little Women wins Best Picture, Rian Johnson would win Best Original Screenplay for Knives Out though.
On the Adapted side, this looks to be where Gerwig will earn her consolation prize for finding a new way to adapt Louisa May Alcott's Little Women to the screen. She would deserve it, too. Her biggest competition comes fom Taika Waititi, who tuned Chistine Luenens' serious novel Caging Skies into Jojo Rabbit.prevnext
Animated, International and Documentary Features
If you have checked out Jérémy Clapin and Marc du Pontavice's ingenious film I Lost My Body on Netflix, you know how cool it would be for that to win Best Animated Feature. While it is true that Laika's Missing Link shocked the world by winning this award at the Golden Globes, it's hard to see how Toy Story 4 loses at the Oscars.
Best International Feature Film is easy. Parasite wins, and it should.
It will be interesting to see if the North Macedonian film Honelyand wins Best Documentary Feature. It made history as the first documentary also nominated for Best International Film. However, the acclaimed Netflix film American Factory (the first movie produced under President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's production company, seems like a slam dunk at the Oscars.prevnext
The Oscars are famously the one time when behind-the-scenes artists get their moment in the spotlight. Without them, we wouldn't have the movies we love, after all.
This year, bet on the legendary Roger Deakins to pick up Best Cinematography for 1917. Whatever you think of the film, you have to admit his work is a technical marvel.
Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker should win for Best Film Editing thanks to their heart-pounding work on the race sequences in Ford v Ferrari. Their work was the best part of the run-of-the-mill sports underdrog movie.
Bomshell will win Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Little Women will pick up Best Costume Design because it's a period drama.
Best Visual Effects has to go to 1917 for making the one-shot effect look seamless. Best Production Design should go to Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh for bringing '60s Hollywood to life in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The sound categories are always tough to guess, but since 1917 is a war movie, it will win both.
For the shorts, Hair Love, The Neighbors' Window and Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl) are popular picks.prevnext
Lastly, the two music categories have some fascinating stories. Diane Warren could at long last be put out of her misery and finally win for "I'm Standing With You" from Breakthrough, but you should always bet on Oscar voters to pick a big pop star. "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" by Elton John and Berine Taupin from Rocketman is going to win.
On the Original Score side, this should finally be Thomas Newman's time to shine thanks to his score for 1917. It is his 15th nomination, and he goes up against his cousin, Marriage Story composer Randy Newman. However, the Golden Globe went to Joker's Hildur Guðnadóttir. If she won, the Icelandic composer would be the first solo woman to win in the category.prev