With the 2020 Academy Awards close at hand its time to look back on the films of 2019 and pick which ones are going to win, which performances stand out, who are some of the dark horse contenders, and all of that other stuff. The reality is that there are many films up for awards, but that doesn't mean that these are the only award worthy films. After all how much buzz did Eddie Murphy garner for his role in Dolemite is My Name? There was talk that this film would finally get him an Oscar but he's nowhere to be seen on this list. (To be fair, that low budget story has been told many times before and there's actually a more interesting version of it in 2003's Baadasssss! from Director Mario Van Peebles).

So what exactly is this list? What gives me, a person who goes to the movies a few times a week, the ability to predict who and what films are going to win Oscars? Honestly, there's no crystal ball to the method. I'm wrong much more often than I am right. That said, while I might not pick everything correctly, I have a feeling that I am going to come at least within striking distance of being right on some of these choices. 2019 saw some pretty awesome movies come our way. Some in theaters, some on streaming services, all vying for our attention in a world that gives less and less space to moves that last longer than 10 seconds. So sit back and revel in this list and be reminded why last year at the movies was such a great time.

Predicting the 2020 Best Picture Winner

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Joker Movie
  • BEST PICTURE nominees
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Marriage Story
  • Parasite
  • 1917

Many years ago a film like Ford v Ferrari would've taken home the top honors. This is 2020 and times have changed drastically. The best picture of last year is Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, however that film isn't going to win best picture. This race is going to come down to Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Parasite and 1917. All these films make statements that rise above the domestic and enter the geopolitical. A win for Joker would be incredible (and it seems like a dark horse to pull off such a feat), however, that great film isn't going to win either. So that leaves Jojo Rabbit, 1917 and Parasite with the winner being... 1917. This "one cut" film is breathtakingly entertaining while also making an overt political statement. The only other film really giving it a run for its money is Parasite.

Predicting the 2020 Actress in a Supporting Role Winner

Jojo Rabbit
  • ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE nominees
  • Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell
  • Laura Dern, Marriage Story
  • Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit
  • Florence Pugh, Little Women
  • Margot Robbie, Bombshell

As solid as all the performances are in this category this is actually only a 2 person race. Kathy Bates was great in Richard Jewell but, sadly, that fine film is already forgotten. Florence Pugh was solid in Little Women but ultimately didn't do enough to beat out any of the other contenders in this category. Margot Robbie was terrific as a reporter getting religion in Bombshell but, who are we kidding? Bombshell is Charlize Theron's movie. The Best Supporting Actress race is between Laura Dern in Marriage Story and Scarlett Johansson in Jojo Rabbit. Both of these actresses stood out for different reasons, but, on Oscar night the person taking home the gold statue will be... Scarlett Johansson. The horrors of the Holocaust are still with us in many ways the world over, and Johansson's performance reminds us that even amidst such atrocities, humanity doesn't have to be far away.

Predicting the 2020 Actor in a Supporting Role Winner

Bard Pitt Once Upon a time in Hollywood
  • ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE nominees
  • 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

Initially, Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers seemed like a lock to win just about everything. Then people saw the film. While it was good the big problem for many is that it wasn't really about Fred Rogers (Hanks). Rather it was about a guy named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and how Fred Rogers helps him deal with his dying father. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a really good film, but the person taking home the gold will not be Hanks. It won't be Anthony Hopkins nor will it be Joe Pesci. However, Pesci didn't expect to win for Goodfellas back in 1990 AND he was up against Al Pacino, too! (For his role in Dick Tracy). This time they are in the same movie so conventional wisdom might be that they cancel each other out. Pacino, as Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman could sneak off with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar but on the big night the surer thing appears to be Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood.

Predicting the 2020 Best Original Song Winner

Frozen II
  • ORIGINAL SONG nominees
  • "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

As much as people love Toy Story and Frozen we live in a world that needs a little something more right now. By all accounts, the winner could be "I'm Standing With You", but faith based films don't seem like something that many Academy voters would champion. No, the race in this category is between "Stand Up" from Harriet (which has its fair share of faith) and "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" from Rocketman. Honestly, this is really a pick-em contest but, ultimately, it seems like when the dust settles, and all of these fine songs are sung, the winner is going to be... the song from Rocketman.

Predicting the 2020 Best Animated Feature Film Winner

Toy Story 4
  • ANIMATED FEATURE FILM nominees
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • I Lost My Body
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link
  • Toy Story 4

The reality with the Animated Feature Film category is that it usually seems to go to the most well known film. For example, in 2019 those honors went to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This isn't to say that that film about everybody's favorite web slinger wasn't worthy, it's just an example to underscore my point. However, there's many interesting things happening in the world of animation. There are filmmakers that are using the medium to really push boundaries. Which is why a film like I Lost My Body should really be the front runner in this category. Given its availability on Netflix it should more than capture Academy members attention and time. Sadly, it won't which is why a very good (but not the best) animated film called Toy Story 4 is going to win.

Predicting the 2020 Best Adapted Screenplay Winner

The Irishman
  • ADAPTED SCREENPLAY nominees
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Little Women
  • The Two Popes
  • Joker

As a category, Adapted Screenplay is a very crowded field this year. You could make a case for The Irishman and it's lavishly long story. You could cite Little Women as being uniquely suited for this honor. Like The Irishman it flash forwarded back and forth in time, and yet effortlessly juggled every single storyline. The Two Popes uses its pages to highlight the work of master thespians Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce. And Joker is that rare anti-superhero film that dealt very seriously with the Herculean struggles of people suffering from mental illness. Based solely on Joaquin Phoenix's performance his interpretation of Arthur Fleck should be enough to nab the Adapted Screenplay honor. And it might... but right now the odds on favorite to take this award is Jojo Rabbit.

Predicting the 2020 Best Original Screenplay Winner

Parasite
  • ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY nominees
  • "Marriage Story"
  • "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood"
  • "Parasite"
  • "Knives Out"
  • "1917"

Truthfully, this is actually a three way race between Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, Knives Out and Parasite. 1917 is a brilliantly conceived film. The reality is that it's more of a visual achievement than a scripted one. Marriage Story is mostly dialogue driven so, at the very least, its nomination for an Original Screenplay Oscar made it a shoe-in. And yet, it just isn't in the same class as the wickedly inventive Knives Out, or the class struggle personified in words that is Parasite. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood might be short on7n7 action and story, but it makes up for all of that in it's characters. These are all people we either know, want to know, and, at the end of the day, are just thankful to have spent some time with when the final credits roll.

Predicting the 2020 the Best Actor in a Leading Role Winner

  • ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE nominees
  • 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

As solid as Leonardo DiCaprio is as Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, his is the kind of performance that the Academy appreciates but ultimately doesn't embrace. Ditto for Adam Driver's nuanced turn in Marriage Story. Jonathan Pryce is always solid and he further bolsters his bonafides in The Two Popes, but the real contenders for Actor In A Leading Role are Joaquin Phoenix in Joker and Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory. Both characters are broken in different ways, yet both have each taken different pathways to get there. Come Oscar night Joaquin Phoenix will be all smiles as he takes home the statuette for his portrayal of Arthur Fleck in Joker.

Predicting the 2020 Best Actress in a Leading Role Winner

Judy movie
  • ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE nominees
  • Cynthia Erivo, Harriet
  • Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
  • Saoirse Ronan, Little Women
  • Renée Zellweger, Judy
  • Charlize Theron, Bombshell

The Academy voters voters appear to love transformations. Following that logic, it would seem that the top two contenders in this very tight race for Best Actress in a Leading Role would be Renee Zellweger in Judy and Charlize Theron in Bombshell. However, how to quantify the depth of Scarlett Johansson's Marriage Story character who is finally getting out from under a troubled relationship? Or, the way Saoirse Ronan's Little Women character navigated the world of publishing and relationships to ultimately listen to to her own voice? Yet, despite all of these solid performances the one that stands out the most would have to be Cynthia Erivo in Harriet. Rich with story, period visuals, and themes from the past that are arguably even more contemporary now, Erivo seems set to take home the gold statuette on Oscar night.

Predicting the 2020 Best Director Winner

Quentin Tarantino Once Upon a time in Hollywood
  • BEST DIRECTOR nominees
  • Martin Scorsese, The Irishman
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
  • Sam Mendes, 1917
  • Todd Phillips, Joker

My heart wants Martin Scorsese or Quentin Tarantino to pick up this coveted honor. These two men are cinema giants and the impact they have had on the industry (and myself) is palpable. Sadly, The Irishman just isn't going to get honored with the gold. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood stands a decent chance, however, it seems like the Academy might not go that way. This leaves Joker which is another film that stands even less of an outside chance. Despite being seen as a "serious comic book film", it appears to be more of a fan favorite than an Academy one. This leaves us Bong Joon-ho's Parasite. A film that serves as its own social justice manifesto, it could possibly resonate enough with voters to get the nod. Lastly, 1917 seems best poised for Oscar glory. With it's daring visual style, anti-war message, and gripping performances, once this movie gets going it literally never stops.

Predicting the 2020 Best Production Design Winner

  • PRODUCTION DESIGN nominees
  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • The Irishman
  • 1917
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Parasite

Hollywood loves many things. Movies that make statements, awards galas, and being celebrated for it's rich history. The Irishman recalls films of years past but it doesn't really check any of those boxes. Ditto for Jojo Rabbit. Parasite is an amazing film but the look of the sets isn't really what's mesmerized viewers. 1917 is all production design but the way it was shot makes it so the viewer doesn't really pay attention to that. No, the film that is a going to take home Oscar is Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. Watching this movie it's hard not to get caught up in Hollywood's not too distant past of the late 1960s. Apparently, director Quentin Tarantino wanted this done without CGI which makes what he achieved even more special.

Predicting the 2020 Best Cinematography Winner

The Lighthouse
  • CINEMATOGRAPHY nominees
  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • The Irishman
  • Joker
  • The Lighthouse

I could spend a lot of time pontificating the looks of all the films in the Best Cinematography category. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is so visually warm we hardly notice that we're watching a movie at all. Joker truly captures the look of the films of the 1980s while at the same time being very much a 2020 film. The Irishman is the work of both a sure-handed director and cinematographer (Rodrigo Prieto, Silence), but there isn't anything that distinguishes it above the other films on this list. The Lighthouse is absolutely gorgeous to look at but sadly it seems like a film that will be passed over. All of this leads us, much like the way 1917 leads us, to that very film. From the moment it starts our entire mindset is engaged. We want a break from the madness of war. Like the soldiers in the film we never really get it, and are thus forced to trudge along with our protagonists. That alone should ensure 1917 getting a gold statue in this category on Oscar night.

Predicting the 2020 Best Costume Design Winner

  • COSTUME DESIGN nominees
  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Little Women
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker

The Costume Design for Little Women should probably nab this honor. The Irishman seems like it could also be a solid contender. Joker also looks like it has the ability to compete. With its vivid look and costumes that recall such 80s films as The Star Chamber, the movie certainly has its merits. However, this contest is going to come down to a costume's ability to transport viewers to another time. This leaves Jojo Rabbit and Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood to duke it. The Costume Design for Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood was so good it might have blended too much into the fabric of the film. Thus, Jojo Rabbit appears set to take home this honor.

Predicting the 2020 Best Sound Editing Winner

1917
  • SOUND EDITING nominees
  • 1917
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Joker

Conventional wisdom might seem like one would never want to bet against Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. However, the competition in this category is just too strong. The showdown here is between 1917 and Ford v Ferrari. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood grips us in an sonic way because the music moves us to recall the past. Joker has it's audio crash down on us to make viewers see that who that character is is very much a product of something society has created. However, Ford v Ferrari puts us in the driver's seat throughout the movie. The audio engulfs us a way that none of the other films in this category really do. Thus, Ford v. Ferrari will be greeted with the Oscar come awards night.

Predicting the 2020 Best Sound Editing Winner

  • SOUND MIXING nominees
  • 1917
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  • Ad Astra
  • Joker

Ford v Ferrari will take home the prize for Sound Mixing. If you had the chance to screen the film in a theater in which the seats that move with the action, it really is very hard to not see the Academy give this film that award. Yes, Ad Astra has a very emotionally complex soundtrack. Sure, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood is just about a perfect movie on every level (visually and tonally). Joker is also quite gripping on a sonic level as is 1917. However, I defy anybody to sit through all 5 of these films and not come out of the Ford v. Ferrari viewing not feeling like you've been somewhere.

Predicting the 2020 Best Original Score Winner

Joker
  • ORIGINAL SCORE nominees
  • 1917, Thomas Newman
  • Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir
  • Little Women, Alexandre Desplat
  • Marriage Story, Randy Newman
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, John Williams

This is an odd statement to make but between all of these well done scores there is really only one front runner. 1917 has a haunting soundtrack. The Joker score is calculating as we see the character of Arthur Fleck descend more and more into madness. Little Women has a score that grows with confidence as we see these characters come into their own. Marriage Story has a biting score that serves to bolster the subject matter. However, given everything about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, how this is finally (or, so we are told) the end of the journey with these characters, it seems only fitting that composer John Williams take home this honor.

Predicting the 2020 Best Visual Effects Winner

Avengers: Endgame
  • VISUAL EFFECTS nominees
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • The Lion King
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • The Irishman
  • 1917

It could be argued that 1917 is one big visual effect. The Lion King went from being an animated legend to a live action one. Many would certainly credit the effects for helping pull this off. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker denotes visual achievement simply by the fact that it is a Star Wars movie. The Irishman, though a bit confusing in its implementation of certain visual effects, nevertheless has to be appreciated for what it attempted to pull off by de-aging it's very aged stars. None of this matters because Avengers: Endgame is going to take home this award. And, given Martin Scorsese's comments about the Marvel home from which Avengers: Endgame comes from, maybe that's how it has to be?

Predicting the 2020 Best Film Editing Winner

  • FILM EDITING nominees
  • The Irishman
  • Ford v Ferrari
  • Parasite
  • Joker
  • Jojo Rabbit

The film-nerd in me wants The Irishman to pull this off because that would give Thelma Schoonmaker another Oscar. It would also be a nice capstone on her career (not that it's over) of cutting films for Martin Scorsese. Ford v Ferrari certainly stands a chance at winning in this category. That film is perpetual motion personified and the editing of it is pitch perfect. Joker was edited like Taxi Driver and the other films it was inspired by, and yet somehow makes itself equally as inspiring as those indomitable films. Parasite has a very layered editing style that builds upon the story as we invest ourselves deeper into these characters. The winner, though, will be Jojo Rabbit. It's going to be hard for the Academy to deny this supremely special film, especially when it so dazzlingly used editing to make magic in front of our eyes.

Predicting the 2020 Best Makeup and Hairstyling Winner

  • MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING nominees
  • Bombshell
  • Joker
  • Judy
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  • 1917

Why don't they just open the award show and give this to Judy? It would certainly cut down on the run time of the affair. Joker has some awesome make-up and hair-styles. However, at the end of the day, that isn't why audiences the world over embraced this movie. Meleficent: Mistress of Evil is the easy choice for this Award and that's probably the very reason why it isn't going to get it. 1917, like Joker, grips us, and the reason it does so has nothing to do with makeup and hairstyling. The fact that so many people watch Judy and can't believe that's Renee Zellweger, tells you all you need to know about why she deserves this award.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Movieweb.
Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs