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Another year, another round of bizarre nominations from The Academy. Of course, the immediate reaction is to turn to the negative. I’m still dumbfounded by ELEVEN nominations for Joker, with snubs for Greta Gerwig (in directing), JLo, De Niro, and so many others. That mark leads the field, more than Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917, and even The Irishman. The irony of The Academy favoring a Scorsese knockoff to the real thing is not lost on me.
But elsewhere, there was still plenty to get excited about. The love for Parasite — 6 nominations to be exact — continues the unprecedented success for international films at the Oscars that Roma spearheaded last year. And while it may not come away with that coveted Best Picture win, it is certainly setting the stage for many more international films to take center stage in future years. The Academy is slow to change, and after Moonlight sent a shockwave through the industry a few years ago, these pleasant surprises are beginning to become more apparent.
But in the meantime, It’s time for you to call the shots and pick who you think is most deserving. Below are the 2020 Oscar nominees in each of the 24 categories. Which actors/films/songs/craftspeople deserve the trophy? It’s up to you! (With some of my commentary along the way.)
Actress in a Supporting Role
Nick’s Take: Sadly for all the Pugh, Robbie, Johansson, and Bates(?) stans out there, it seems like Laura Dern is walking away with the trophy in this category. Which, in my book, is perfectly okay as Dern is brilliant as the iconic Nora Fanshaw, who singlehandedly made sure that I will not divorce in my life and have to deal with other cutthroat lawyers like her. I would personally lean Florence Pugh, but I don’t have much of a complaint about Dern winning here.
Based on all the punditry, Dern for the win is one of the safer bets in the entire field.
My Pick: Florence Pugh
Projected Academy Pick: Laura Dern
Nick’s Take: Apollo 11.
No? It’s not nominated because people are dumb? Fine, I’ll pivot to Honeyland, which was also a nice winner amid all the nomination hullabaloo. It’s also the first-ever film from North Macedonia to get a nomination. On top of that, it’s quite a terrific film about the balance between nature and civilization.
I also expect the Academy to go this way. Having a nomination in both Best Documentary Feature and Best International Film speaks a lot to how well-liked Honeyland is in the Academy. Expect it to be victorious.
My Pick: Honeyland
Projected Academy Pick: Honeyland
Makeup and Hairstyling
Nick’s Take: It’s nice to finally see five nominees in this category after many years of being the only category with three nominations. Why that was the case and we have two different categories for sound mixing and editing, I have no idea. But it’s a nice piece of progress that rewards a few more deserving craftspeople in the industry.
My choice is Bombshell, as Charlize Theron looks EXACTLY like Megyn Kelly and it has haunted my dreams ever since I saw the film.
My Pick: Bombshell
Projected Academy Pick: Bombshell
Nick’s Take: A good rule of thumb when trying to match The Academy is discerning which nominees did the most of something, whether it’s the most acting, directing, or even costuming. It’s flashy and easy to comprehend by all voters. (It’s also why you see movies like Joker, which does the most of everything, have so many nominations despite doing none of those things particularly well.)
The “most” logic points to either Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, or Joker taking the prize. My heart says Little Women, but I fear that Joker might win it.
My Pick: Little Women
Projected Academy Pick: Little Women
Nick’s Take: A lot of great choices in this category. My guess is that Parasite won’t win, because its design choices are far too delicate and subtle for The Academy to pick up on, so put me down for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
In fairness, the work done to replicate late 60’s Los Angeles in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is immaculate, so it’s probably the most deserving nominee anyway.
My Pick: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Projected Academy Pick: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Nick’s Take: Shout out to Jarin Blaschke for his work on The Lighthouse. It’s one of the most pleasant surprises in the entire field, mostly because I thought The Lighthouse was far too strange to garner this kind of attention from this awards body. It’s also my pick in the category, because why not.
My Pick: The Lighthouse
Projected Academy Pick: 1917
Nick’s Take: Just in case you need a reminder on the whole sound editing vs. sound mixing thing:
Sound Editing: The sound editor is responsible for all of a film’s sound elements, including dialogue, sound effects, automated dialogue replacement and more with regards to their creation.
Sound Mixing: The sound mixer ultimately determines how an audience hears everything in a film. The sound mixer must decide what elements to emphasize and which to tone down.
Give me Ford v Ferrari here — its sound editing (i.e. the zooming cars, the throttle of the engines) is the main reason it was such a good theatrical experience.
My Pick: Ford v Ferrari
Projected Academy Pick: Ford v Ferrari
Nick’s Take: “Academy award winner Ad Astra” has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? (I’m also fully aware that it’s probably last among the five in terms of chances to win.)
My Pick: Ad Astra
Projected Academy Pick: 1917
International Feature Film
Nick’s Take: We all know it’s going to be Parasite, right?
(Related: all these movies are good to great, and you should get over that one-inch barrier of subtitles and watch them all.)
My Pick: Parasite
Projected Academy Pick: Parasite
Nick’s Take: The nominees in this category portend what will occur in the Best Picture a lot of the time, which makes this year so strange because 1917, the prohibitive favorite, is not a contender here. My guess is that the award will be a consolation prize for Parasite as the film that will be a runner-up to 1917 in most categories.
However, I’m going with the legendary Thelma Schoonmaker in this category. There are so many moving parts in Scorsese’s epic, and Schoonmaker brought it all together with some fabulous, seamless work.
My Pick: The Irishman
Projected Academy Pick: Parasite
Actor in a Supporting Role
Nick’s Take: Pitt for the win in what is one of the safer picks of the 24 categories.
My Pick: Brad Pitt
Projected Academy Pick: Brad Pitt
Animated Feature Film
Nick’s Take: Hooray for Klaus! Its addition, as well as the lack of The Lion King or Frozen II, turned this category into a fun one. Kudos to Netflix for Klaus and I Lost My Body, which are both some of the more striking visual experiences of 2019. Not to mention a nice break from stock CGI animation for a change.
Although the winner here — both in the eyes of The Academy and yours truly — is Toy Story 4, which had me in an existential tailspin halfway through. Thanks a lot, Pixar.
My Pick: Toy Story 4
Projected Academy Pick: Toy Story 4
Animated Short Film
Nick’s Take: This is one of the few years in recent memory where we don’t have a Pixar short in the running in this category, so there’s a strong chance that you might not have seen any of these nominees. (Me included.) Um…Hair Love?
My Pick: Hair Love
Projected Academy Pick: Hair Love
Documentary Short Subject
Nick’s Take: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) is widely accessible on Hulu, and typically the documentary shorts that are helped along the way by big corporations with large audiences tend to do well at the Oscars.
My Pick: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Projected Academy Pick: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)
Nick’s Take: A good rule of thumb in the Visual Effects category is that the Academy will always go with a winner that sounds the least “silly” on a ballot, which probably means that Endgame and The Rise of Skywalker will not win.
Personally, the effects in 1917 are never noticeable because they are so perfect, which is why it’s the winner in my book.
My Pick: 1917
Projected Academy Pick: 1917
Live Action Short Film
Nick’s Take: Brotherhood has been tapped as a frontrunner in this category along with The Neighbors’ Window for some time now. If I were a betting man, I put my allegiance towards either of those two.
My Pick: Brotherhood
Projected Academy Pick: Brotherhood
Nick’s Take: The Original Screenplay category is typically where the cool kids go to play, where you can get some great film recommendations and get a sense of what are probably some of the better movies of the year. In many years, films that will not win Best Picture win in this category as a consolation prize of sorts. The same goes for Adapted Screenplay. For that reason, my guess is that this will be another consolation prize for Bong Joon-ho and Jin Won Han of Parasite.
However, I’m throwing my support behind Noah Baumbach and Marriage Story — the way the awards season has shaped up, Baumbach seems to need a hug.
My Pick: Noah Baumbach
Projected Academy Pick: Bong Joon-ho and Jin Won Han
Nick’s Take: Although I’m crossing my fingers for a Greta Gerwig win, Taika Waititi and Jojo Rabbit have picked up some steam as of late, winning at the WGA Awards. Sadly, Gerwig is looking like one of the biggest losers of the awards season.
My Pick: Greta Gerwig
Projected Academy Pick: Taika Waititi
Nick’s Take: Except for The Rise of Skywalker, I could see just about every other nominee coming away with the win. My guess is that The Academy’s favorite is Hildur Guðnadóttir. My disdain for Joker aside, Guðnadóttir’s score is the reason that the movie works for so many people, and it truly is excellent. (Side note: Hildur Guðnadóttir is a rising star in the industry, and you should be excited about any movie that she works on.)
Still, my favorite is Alexandre Desplat’s wonderfully whimsical and emotional score for Little Women, which is a driving force for the entire movie.
My Pick: Alexandre Desplat
Projected Academy Pick: Hildur Guðnadóttir
Nick’s Take: I say that we pass a new rule that, to be eligible for a Best Original Song nomination, the song has to actually be used within the film itself, and not in the credits. Who’s with me?
Regardless, I’m going with “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”.
My Pick: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”
Projected Academy Pick: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”
Actor in a Leading Role
Nick’s Take: Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems. No? Alright then.
One of the more overpowering stats of recent Oscar history is that eleven of the last fifteen Best Actor winners played a real-life figure, which seems to pave the way for Jonathan Pryce to win for portraying Pope Francis. Although he seems to be running in fifth as a surprise nomination in this category. (Justice for De Niro!) 2020 will probably see a change to that trend, although not entirely as my projected winner is Joaquin Phoenix, who obviously isn’t playing a real-life figure, but a character with which we have a pre-existing relationship.
For what it’s worth, Adam Driver in Marriage Story was the best performance I saw all year and my pick in this category.
My Pick: Adam Driver
Projected Academy Pick: Joaquin Phoenix
Actress in a Leading Role
Nick’s Take: Frustratingly, the winner of this category is most likely Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland, but that’s probably my least favorite performance of the bunch. My choice is between Saoirse Ronan and Scarlett Johansson, with Johansson getting the slight edge.
My Pick: Scarlett Johansson
Projected Academy Pick: Renée Zellweger
Nick’s Take: Greta Gerwig. Still no? Fine.
Returning to the idea of the “most” directing, I foresee a possible Sam Mendes win for 1917 in this category in exchange for another movie winning Best Picture, although I would personally go with either good ol’ Marty, QT, or Bong Joon-ho.
Also, watch out for Todd Phillips here if Joker rattles off a few below-the-line wins.
My Pick: Quentin Tarantino
Projected Academy Pick: Sam Mendes
Nick’s Take: Please, for the love all things good in this world, anything but Joker. My sanity depends on it.
My Pick: Marriage Story
Projected Academy Pick: 1917
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on the 2020 Oscar nominees? Comment down below!
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