top of page
  • by Jeff Beck

Predicting the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, Part 2: The Major Categories


Let's dive right back in and see how the eight major categories might play out on the big night...

Best Adapted Screenplay Steven Zaillian, The Irishman Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, Joker Greta Gerwig, Little Women Anthony McCarten, The Two Popes If you had asked me about two weeks ago who was going to win this category, I, like most others, would have told you that Greta Gerwig was a lock for "Little Women." However, Taika Waititi pulled a major surprise over the weekend by first winning the Writers Guild of America Award for Adapted Screenplay, and following that up the very next day by winning the same at BAFTA. It's certainly possible that Gerwig could win for her marvelous screenplay for "Little Women" (and I personally really hope she does), especially because of her unfortunate snub for Best Director, but the industry has made it pretty clear that they love Waititi's script, making it seem like the most likely winner here. Best Original Screenplay Rian Johnson, Knives Out Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, 1917 Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won, Parasite Original Screenplay has been a fascinating race this year. The critics awards were split between "Marriage Story," "Parasite," and "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood," with "Hollywood" winning the Critics' Choice, "Parasite" the WGA ("Hollywood" wasn't eligible), and "Parasite" again being victorious at BAFTA (with "Hollywood" in play). When it comes down to it, it does indeed feel like "Parasite" is the more popular of the latter two, at least when it comes to the industry. Of course, we'll never know who would've won the WGA with "Hollywood" present thanks to their asinine rules, but the BAFTA win certainly seems to be pointing towards "Parasite." 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 Best Actress Cynthia Erivo, Harriet Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story Saoirse Ronan, Little Women Charlize Theron, Bombshell Renee Zellweger, Judy 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 Best Supporting Actress Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell Laura Dern, Marriage Story Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit Florence Pugh, Little Women Margot Robbie, Bombshell I've opted to combine all of the acting categories into one section this year for one simple reason: The extraordinary event that happened just two years ago has once again happened this year. That is, all four of the acting frontrunners have swept the Oscar precursors, winning the Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA awards for their respective categories. Some were late-comers (Adam Driver dominated the Best Actor critics awards before Phoenix took over, while Lupita Nyong'o dominated the Best Actress critics awards before getting snubbed, with Zellweger taking over), while some remained constant (Pitt and Dern were the favorites throughout). Long story short: It would be very unwise to bet against any of these four. Best Director Bong Joon Ho, Parasite Sam Mendes, 1917 Todd Phillips, Joker Martin Scorsese, The Irishman Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood This year, the critics made it abundantly clear that they thought Bong Joon Ho ("Parasite") was the Best Director. However, when it came to the major precursor awards, it was Sam Mendes that suddenly took over and started sweeping, taking the Golden Globe, Critics' Choice (tied with Bong Joon Ho), Directors Guild, and BAFTA awards. The most important of these, of course, is the DGA award, which matches with the Oscar about 90% of the time, so that, combined with the sweep make Mendes a pretty sure thing on Oscar night. Best Picture Ford v Ferrari The Irishman Jojo Rabbit Joker Little Women Marriage Story 1917 Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood Parasite Again, this year, the critics made it quite clear that they thought "Parasite" was the very best film released in 2019, with it clearly dominating the Best Picture category. However, a very interesting turn started happening with the Golden Globes. For starters, Sam Mendes unexpectedly took Best Director for "1917," defeating frontrunner Bong Joon Ho. This was followed by Best Drama going to Mendes' film as well (Being a foreign Film, "Parasite" was not allowed to compete for Best Picture, an embarrassing rule that the HFPA needs to do away with). This didn't necessarily mean anything, but it was certainly interesting to see Mendes win director after Bong Joon Ho's clear domination. The Critics' Choice Awards only showed "Parasite" falling further as the film tied for Best Director (with Sam Mendes), with the film ultimately losing Best Picture and Best Screenplay to "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood." As if that weren't enough, "Parasite" ended up losing the Producers Guild of America's top award to "1917," an award that matches up with the Best Picture Oscar most of the time. This showed that "1917" clearly played very well on the Preferential Ballot (the voting method used by the Academy for Best Picture ), automatically making the film the frontrunner. "1917" continued enjoying several major award wins, including the Directors Guild (cementing Mendes for another Best Director Oscar) and seven wins at this year's BAFTAs, including Best Film, Best Director, and Outstanding British Film. "Parasite" had its fair share of wins as well, including a surprise victory for Best Cast from SAG and an expected win for Original Screenplay from the WGA, but again, the PGA is what usually points the way to Best Picture (even when "The Shape of Water" and "Green Book" unexpectedly won), so it seems very unwise to bet against "1917" taking the top prize on the big night. As if that wasn't enough for "Parasite" to deal with, you have to consider that there will be many voters who feel that giving it Best International Film will be sufficient, while they give Best Picture to something else. Also, as much as we don't want to admit it, there are likely those that don't want to see a foreign film win the top award, resulting in them placing it dead last on their ranked list of Best Picture nominees. There have even been a few anonymous members admitting that they haven't seen the film simply because they don't like reading subtitles. The same bias no doubt played a part in the defeat of "Roma" last year. However, even with such bias, its biggest hurdle will be the Preferential Ballot. This voting method tends to favor films that are very broadly liked, which "1917" is. "Parasite" is very well liked, but it's hard to say that it's "broadly" liked. You could even go so far as to say that "1917" is a very "safe" pick, which is something The Academy tends to lean towards ("Green Book" is a prime example), while "Parasite" is a little more "out there" for a Best Picture pick. Still, even with all of that, "Parasite" could still be the big winner. It's obviously a very well-liked and beloved film, so it might just overcome all of the obstacles in its way. The big question that remains is: What will the Preferential Ballot say? The PGA already told us what theirs said, and they've been right the last two years in a row. And so, this is ultimately why I'm picking Sam Mendes' outstanding World War I epic "1917" as the next winner of the Best Picture Oscar. Will it happen? We'll just have to wait for the big night on February 9th to find out. Do you agree with these picks? Who do you think will win in each category and why?

Part 1: The Minor Categories can be found here.

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.

Join our mailing list

bottom of page