From “1917” to “Parasite”: My Predictions for the 2020 Academy Awards

Awards season is already coming to end, thanks to the Academy Awards moving up the ceremony to the second Sunday in February.  With some categories seeming like shoe-ins and others still up in the air, it’s going to be interesting to see how the shorter campaign season shakes out at the Oscars on February 9th.  Regardless, most of the films nominated deserve to be there (with the exception of “Joker,” which I personally despised, and “Ford v Ferrari,” which I liked but didn’t find awards-worthy), and it’s sure to be an exciting night honoring the best of the year, as many of the categories seem to be coming down to the war epic “1917” and the Korean social commentary “Parasite.”  Below, I’ve laid out my predictions for who I think will win the Oscar, and who I believe deserves it.  Click the links to read my full review of each film, and you can read the full list of nominees here.

Benedict Cumberbatch in “1917”


Will Win: “1917

Should Win: “Parasite

NOTES: I’m erring on the side of caution here.  Sure, “1917” appears to be the frontrunner, but I wouldn’t say it’s a sure thing.  While Sam Mendes’ World War I drama has dominated this awards season (with the exception of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” winning Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards).  And sure, Hollywood sure does love movies about itself, so Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist epic still has a shot, but at this point, I think this is a two movie race.  The fact that Bong Joon Ho’s universally-lauded masterpiece “Parasite” is a shoe-in in the Best Foreign Language Film category makes me think that the Academy will split the vote and give the Best Picture prize to another film, as is usually the case.  But the love that people (specifically, potential Academy voters) have for this movie has been obvious all season long (the cast was given a standing ovation at the SAG Awards, for which they later won the best ensemble prize).  If any foreign language film was going to break the barrier and win Best Picture, no film has ever had a better shot than “Parasite.”

Lee Sun-kyun and Cho Yeo-jeong in “Parasite”


Will Win: Bong Joon Ho

Should Win: Bong Joon Ho

NOTES: This is a tight race.  Sam Mendes won the DGA, among other honors, but Bong has been honored for his directing this awards season as well.  I feel like the Academy has a better chance of giving him the directing win in lieu of Best Picture.

Renee Zellweger as actress and singer Judy Garland in “Judy”


Will Win: Renee Zellweger, “Judy”

Should Win: Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story

NOTES: The same four people have been winning the same four acting categories all season long; any other winners at this point would be a huge upset.  But since voters seem to believe that more acting is good acting, that probably won’t happen.  Listen, I’m not fond of Scarlett Johansson as much as the next person, but she turned in two darn great performances this year.

Joaquin Phoenix as “Joker”


Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker

Should Win: Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

NOTES: This will, Oscar willing, be the only major award “Joker” (up for 11 nominations, more than any other film this year) wins.

Laura Dern in “Marriage Story”


Will Win: Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Should Win: Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

NOTES: Just feel like I need to say that Florence Pugh is fantastic as Amy March in “Little Women” and it’s a close call for me between her and Dern. Johansson is also wonderful as the titular character’s mother in “Jojo Rabbit,” but between her performance here and in “Marriage Story,” I prefer the latter.

Brad Pitt alongside Lena Dunham and Margaret Qualley in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”


Will Win: Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Should Win: Joe Pesci, “The Irishman

NOTES: There are a lot of solid dramatic performances from older actors represented in this category.  Pitt gets a lot of laughs (some legitimate, some questionable) as stuntman Cliff Booth in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”  The role is a surprisingly great fit for him, and while I actually don’t have any overwhelming preferences in the supporting actor category this year, it is kind of crazy that Joe Pesci came out of retirement to be in Martin Scorsese’s epic “The Irishman,” delivered a career-best performance, and hasn’t received any recognition.


Will Win: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Should Win: Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”

NOTES:  Quentin Tarantino wasn’t eligible for the WGA, so it’s hard to say if his lack of presence at the guild awards will help or hurt him here.  Shout-out to Rian Johnson’s screenplay for his whodunit “Knives Out,” which has been woefully underrepresented this awards season.  It’s clever and fun, but I have to defer to “Parasite.”

Writer/director Taika Waititi as Hitler and Roman Griffin Davis in “Jojo Rabbit”


Will Win: Taika Waititi, “Jojo Rabbit

Should Win: Greta Gerwig, “Little Women

NOTES: Both screenplays mentioned above are fantastic, and both have a solid chance of winning.  Waititi won the WGA for his adaptation of the Nazi Germany satire, but Gerwig framed a story that’s over a hundred fifty years old and has been adapted numerous times in a fresh and modern way.  She gets my vote.

Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) is reunited with Bo Peep (Annie Potts) in Pixar’s “Toy Story 4”


Will Win: “Toy Story 4

Should Win: “Klaus” or “I Lost My Body

NOTES: Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” seems like the easy choice for a lot of voters.  Personally, I would love to see either “Klaus” or “I Lost My Body”—two wonderfully unique films distributed by Netflix—win over the big studio entries.


Will Win: “American Factory”

Should Win: “For Sama”

Park So-dam and Choi Woo-shik in “Parasite”


Will Win: “Parasite”

Should Win: “Parasite”


Will Win: “1917”

Should Win: “1917”


Will Win: “Little Women”

Should Win: “Little Women”

Charlize Theron as Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell”


Will Win: “Bombshell

Should Win: “Bombshell”

NOTES: I still find Charlize Theron unrecognizable as Megyn Kelly in this movie, so it gets my vote over some of the flashier titles.


Will Win: “Parasite”

Should Win: “Parasite”


Will Win: “Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone (If You’re a Girl)”

Should Win: “St. Louis Superman”

NOTES: I’m from St. Louis—I gotta root for the hometown movie.

Matthew A. Cherry’s nominated short film “Hair Love”


Will Win: “Hair Love”

Should Win: “Kitbull”

NOTES: Both these shorts destroyed me, and I’d be fine with either winning.  I think personally I felt more emotionally attached to “Kitbull,” but the moving story of a father and daughter told in “Hair Love” makes strides toward great representation and deserves to be recognized.  It’s also probably the most accessible of all the nominees.


Will Win: “Brotherhood”

Should Win: “A Sister”

Margot Robbie as actress Sharon Tate in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”


Will Win: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Should Win: “Parasite”


Will Win: “Joker”

Should Win: “Joker”

NOTES: Faithful followers likely already know that I passionately hated the film “Joker,” but it’s score by Hildur Guðnadóttir lends the film a unique voice that is truly its highlight. It’s hard for me to pick a personal favorite in this category, however. I’m a huge “Star Wars” fan and it would be exciting to see John Williams win for the final movie in the Skywalker saga, while Randy Newman’s score for “Marriage Story” was perfectly sweet.

Taron Egerton as singer/songwriter Elton John in “Rocketman”


Will Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman

Should Win: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”

NOTES: This is a really fun song from a movie I loved, and Elton John has been dominating this category in other awards ceremonies so far.  Combined with the distinct lack of love for “Frozen II” this year, I think it’s the one to beat.


Will Win: “Avenger: Endgame

Should Win: “1917”

NOTES: This is the only opportunity the Academy has to recognize the highest grossing film of all time and the conclusion to a massive, decade-spanning fan favorite franchise, but “Avengers: Endgame” is likely my last pick to win visual effects.  There are too many instances where the special effects overtake the story rather than enhance it.  And while I’d love to say “The Lion King” for the ground-breaking realism it depicted, that film’s visuals didn’t serve the story well.  And so I’m going with “1917,” which has tons of great visuals and action that enhances, rather than detracts from, the story.

Matt Damon and Christian Bale in “Ford v Ferrari”


Will Win: “Ford v Ferrari

Should Win: “1917”

NOTES: This is another close call, but “Ford v Ferrari” won the guild awards.  Also, you know, race cars.


Will Win: “Ford v Ferrari”

Should Win: “1917”

Who do you think will—or should—take home an Oscar on Sunday night?  Let me know in the comments below, and have a great Oscar Sunday!

2 thoughts on “From “1917” to “Parasite”: My Predictions for the 2020 Academy Awards

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