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FCFF Oscar Predictions 2020

It’s that time of the year again. With the Oscars coming up on Sunday, Awards Season is coming to a close, this year much earlier than usual. Normally this cycle of lavish gowns and golden statues lasts from December all the way until early March. This year, for the sake of keeping people interested in the previous year’s films, the Oscars have been moved up to the beginning of February. With no host (once again), and a popular and extremely controversial list of nominees, this year’s Oscars will be interesting to watch play out.

Every year film lovers go to their Oscar parties, fill out their ballots and realize just how many great films they missed over the past year. Fortunately for you, this writer has seen all 52 (yes all 52, even the shorts) nominated films across the 24 different categories. So even if you haven’t seen some of the harder films to track down like “Corpus Christi” or Sarnia-based documentary short “St. Louis Superman”, fear not, for this article will give you all of the dirt on what could and should win, and may possibly surprise, category by category.

Best Picture

As someone who was extremely disappointed with last year’s Best Picture lineup (and eventual winner), this year feels like a breath of fresh air to me. Of the 9 nominated movies, I would consider 5 to be extremely worthy of a win (“Parasite”, “Jojo Rabbit”, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, “Marriage Story” and “Joker”), and the other 4 range from excellent (“1917” & “Little Women”) to quite solid (“The Irishman” and “Ford v Ferrari”). This year also boasts what could potentially be the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture, with “Parasite” gaining more and more steam every day. But let’s break down the category for you guys.

The Safe Bet: “1917”

“1917”, the massive World War I epic, which is made to look like it’s done in one continuous shot, has been gaining traction amongst awards voters since it premiered in early December. “1917” took the Golden Globe for Best Drama, as well as the Producers Guild Award and the Directors Guild Award, which have all been excellent predictors in recent years to determine a winner. If there ever was a clear front runner for the prize, “1917” is as safe a bet as you can give.

The Risky Pick: “Parasite”

This South Korean film became a massive cross over hit, mostly because despite it being a foreign language film, it is wildly entertaining, and has drawn in plenty of viewers who would otherwise never watch a subtitled film. It would make for a first for a foreign film to win. And what a winner it would be. The case for it to win is that it has the most support in the industry overall. The cast of the movie won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble, and received a huge standing ovation. The director, Bong Joon Ho also has received standing ovations all over Hollywood at various awards shows. “Parasite” is extremely easy to love and will be a huge passion pick amongst voters. But losing at the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild makes this one a bit of a risky pick.

Possible Upset: “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

Once upon a time, “Once Upon a Time…” was the front runner for Best Picture, but it has been losing steam around awards, and despite winning the Best Comedy award at the Golden Globes, it has been consistently losing most other places. Still, this one could surprise and take the top prize this Sunday.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Jojo Rabbit”, “Joker”, “Little Women”, “Marriage Story”, “The Irishman”, “Ford V Ferrari”

My Fave: “Parasite”


When it comes down to it, this category is all about awarding the biggest and most impressive movie in the race. In previous years this has gone to historical epics (“Roma”, “The Revenant”), Science-Fiction (“The Shape of Water”, “Gravity”), and ambitious comedies/musicals (“La La Land” and “Birdman”). So it’s clear to me who the winner in this category is, and this one seems pretty close to a lock in my mind.

The Lock: Sam Mendes, “1917”

In “1917”, Mendes made a war movie that looks like it was done in one continuous shot. This is the kind of directorial achievement that the Academy falls head over heels for, and Mendes has won literally every single place that has awards for Best Directing. Count on it.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: Bong Joon-Ho “Parasite”, Todd Phillips “Joker”, Martin Scorsese “The Irishman”, Quentin Tarantino “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

My Fave: Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”


The acting prize usually goes to the juiciest roles, in previous years, this one has gone to actors playing real life people (Rami Malek in “Bohemian Crapsody”, Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour”) and sullen introverted characters (Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea” and Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”). This year, like in Best Director, has a clear frontrunner, and it would be dumb to pick anything else on your ballot.

The Lock: Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Joaquin Phoenix is the glue that holds this movie together, and his performance as Joker stands uniquely different to what other great actors have done before him. But not only is the performance undeniably great, it has picked up Joaquin awards at every precursor show out there, from the Golden Globes, to the Screen Actors Guild, to the Critics Choice. Some might say that Adam Driver has a shot for his role in “Marriage Story”, but that would be one of the biggest shocks of the night. Don’t bet against Phoenix.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: Adam Driver “Marriage Story”, Leonardo DiCaprio “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, Antonio Banderas “Pain and Glory”, Jonathan Pryce “The Two Popes”

My Fave: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”


Once again, an award that favors the juiciest and the biggest of performances. In previous years having gone to real life figures such as Olivia Colman in “The Favourite”, and larger than life roles such as Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards” and Emma Stone in “La La Land”. This year has a clear frontrunner, again, a lot of those this year. But we guarantee you, you won’t regret sticking with these locked picks.

The Lock: Renee Zellweger, “Judy”

Playing the real life role of the beloved Judy Garland, Renee Zellweger stars in what is a huge comeback role for her. And if there is anything that the Oscars love, it’s comebacks and real life stories. “Judy” has both. Renee Zellweger has also won everywhere that Joaquin Phoenix has won, proving that these actors are unstoppable on their way to Oscar Gold.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: Scarlett Johansson “Marriage Story”, Saoirse Ronan “Little Women”, Charlize Theron “Bombshell”, Cynthia Erivo “Harriet”

My Fave: Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”


In the past few years, this has gone to lots of matriarchal roles, from Regina King in “If Beale Street Could Talk”, to Allison Janney in “I, Tonya”, to Viola Davis in “Fences”. This year has a clear front runner that fits the mold, but might have some holes in her campaign that could drag her down.

The Safe Bet: Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Laura Dern plays a divorce lawyer with charm who tears the main couple’s life apart in “Marriage Story”. She is captivating in the role and has won all the same awards that Zellweger and Phoenix have taken home. However, she’s recently been getting some backlash for the role which has lead me to drop her from being a lock. But she’s still the safest bet in the race.

The Risky Picks: Florence Pugh, “Little Women” and Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

Pugh and Johansson both deliver the most charming performances in the category, both playing lovely characters that connect with us and win over our hearts. Neither of them have picked up awards anywhere, and have lost to Laura Dern everywhere that it counts, but if anyone picks up a surprise win, it’s one of these two.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: Margot Robbie “Bombshell”, Kathy Bates “Richard Jewell”

My Fave: Florence Pugh, “Little Women”


You can pretty much count on this award to go to the biggest role in the category. This one could alternatively be “Best Role that we’re pretending is not a lead role for the sake of better chances”. In the past this has been won by Mahershala Ali in “Green Book” and Sam Rockwell in “Three Billboards”. This year looks to follow suit with yet another locked in win.

The Lock: Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Playing the stunt man who doubles as best friend to Leonardo DiCaprio’s fading movie star, Brad Pitt has been the center of conversation for his work in this movie since it premiered in May. He sure as hell is not a “Supporting” actor, but his work is worthy of being rewarded, and has been rewarded everywhere this awards season. Also watch the show to see Pitt deliver what will undoubtedly be the best speech of the night, as he has consistently had the funniest speeches through the season.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: Tom Hanks “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, Anthony Hopkins “The Two Popes”, Al Pacino & Joe Pesci “The Irishman”

My Fave: Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”


Finally a category with no clear front runner! The tough thing with this is that the only major award show that gives out this prize before the Oscars, has weird rules that exclude some of the bigger movies. But this prize usually goes to the witty script (“Green Book”), the creative script (“Get Out”), or the most talky drama (“Manchester by the Sea”). This year it could go any of these ways.

The Risky Frontrunner: “Parasite”

After winning the Writers Guild Award, and as one of the two Best Picture front runners, with a script that fits both the box of the Witty script and the Creative script, “Parasite” seems to have a great shot, but without having competition from Tarantino at the Writers Guild Awards, it could go either way.

The Riskier Pick:Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

Like I said, this one was not eligible for the Writers Guild Awards, which means we haven’t really seen it compete against “Parasite” anywhere except the Golden Globes, where this movie won. But again, it could go either way. But if “Parasite” loses here, it will lose Best Picture.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Marriage Story”, “Knives Out”, “1917”

My Fave: “Parasite”


Yet another category that seems quite open ended, although it’s starting to seem a bit clearer in the past few weeks. Unlike Original Screenplay, this category featured all of these scripts battling against each other at the Writers Guild Awards. So we have a clearer view of the field here.

The Safe Bet: “Jojo Rabbit”

“Jojo Rabbit” took the top prize at the Writers Guild Awards, as well as at the British Academy Awards, making it look like the safest pick in this category, and rightfully so. With it’s off the wall sense of humor and commitment to childlike creativity, this movie would fit right in among Best Screenplay winners of the past.

The Risky Pick: “Little Women”

“Little Women” seemed like the frontrunner up until “Jojo” started picking up steam, but after winning at the Critics Choice awards, and with “Little Women” having a lot of passion behind it, this one could slide in to a win.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “The Two Popes”, “The Irishman”, “Joker”

My Fave: “Jojo Rabbit”


Annnnnd back to the certain-no one else stands a chance-locks. This category is an open and shut case of “gee I wonder who’s gonna win”. Trust us, just write down our pick. No one else stands a fighting chance.

The Lock: “1917”

Hmmmmmmmmm is the movie shot in a single take going to win the award for camera work? Yes, absolutely. It has won everywhere all season long, and has been the guaranteed winner ever since the project was announced last year.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “The Lighthouse”, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, “The Irishman”, “Joker”

My Fave: “1917”


The award for Best Editing can often also stand for the “most editing” award, meaning the flashiest, most in your face movie in the category will often take the prize. This year has two clearly stylish front runners.

The Safe Bet: “Parasite”

The winner of the American Cinema Editors prize for Best Edited Drama, “Parasite” is fast-paced, stylish, and well constructed in a way that if the editing were any less perfect, the film would likely not have a chance at Best Picture. Another note: if “Parasite” loses here, I would again discount its chances for the top prize.

The Risky Pick: “Ford V Ferrari”

Yet another stylish, fast, and big movie that could take the award. If it were to win, it would purely be based on the editing of the racing scenes, which likely are the reason that this movie ended up among the Best Picture lineup. Don’t count it out here even if it has less than zero chance for Best Picture.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Jojo Rabbit”, “Joker”, “The Irishman”

My Fave: “Parasite”


You can expect this one to pretty much always go to the most stylish, lavish, and grandiose costumes of the bunch. Last year it went to the Afro-Futuristic style of “Black Panther”, the year before it went to the old high-fashion of “Phantom Thread”. This year, three creative pieces of period costuming are gunning for the prize.

The Safe Bet: “Little Women”

The old-timey dresses are something that the academy are clearly suckers for, and if “Little Women” doesn’t win here, it may go home empty-handed.

The Risky Pick: “Jojo Rabbit”

“Jojo Rabbit”’s stylish and cartoonish vision of WW2 through the eyes of a child just won the top prize at the Costume Designers Guild awards, which usually successfully predicts the winner here. But I’m still not convinced that Oscars will go for this over something more clearly lavish.

Possible Upset: “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

Set 80 years after “Little Women”, this period drama ditches the old timey dresses for hippie bell bottoms, and floral patterned shirts. But if the Academy turns out to really love this film, it will certainly stand a chance here.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “The Irishman”, “Joker”

My Fave: “Jojo Rabbit


This year brings changes to this category, moving from the only category that only nominates 3 films, to nominating 5 like everyone else. This category always springs for the biggest transformations, usually favoring prosthetics that make big actors look like someone other than themselves.

The Lock: “Bombshell”

And speaking of “using prosthetics to make big actors look like someone different”, this movie uses prosthetics to turn Charlize Theron into infamous FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly. Additionally, the work on the hair of the other women in the office stands out enough to make this one a sure fire bet for this prize.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Judy”, “Joker”, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”, “1917”

My Fave: “Bombshell”


This category usually goes to the movie with an element of fantasy in its design. Unfortunately this makes this year hard because none of the movies nominated fit that billing. All of them are period pieces except for “Parasite”. But this makes it interesting in my mind.

The Safe Bet: “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

Transforming Hollywood into the times of yester-year, this movie will certainly strike a chord with voters who live in LA… which is most of them.

The Risky Picks: “Parasite” and “1917”

These two Best Picture front runners both have outstanding elements in their production design, from creating a realistic battlefield in “1917”, to designing a mansion as an open concept maze in “Parasite”. If either of these takes the prize, I would wage that they have the support and love to win Best Picture.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Jojo Rabbit”, “The Irishman”

My Fave: “Parasite”


Always look for this award to go to a Best Picture nominee. This year, that doesn’t narrow it down much because 4/5 nominees are Best Picture Noms, and the last one is “Star Wars”. But this category seems pretty easy to nail down this year.

The Safe Bet: “Joker”

The eerie cello score of “Joker” has been picking up awards left and right, and remains, alongside Joaquin Phoenix, one of the most memorable parts of the movie.

The Risky Pick: “1917”

Thomas Newman’s orchestral score for “1917” goes from silent to sweeping with a master’s touch, but it has lost most of its momentum for awards in the weeks following its loss at the Golden Globes.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Marriage Story”, “Little Women”, “Star Wars”

My Fave: “Marriage Story”


This year has a particularly weak field of nominees in this category. It’s almost less of a “Best Song” category and more of a “Least Bad Song” category, but anyways, lets jump in.

The Safe Bet: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”, Rocketman

Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote this catchy pop hit for Elton’s biopic, and the song, although pretty forgettable, remains the most fun of the bunch.

The Risky Pick: “Stand Up”, Harriet

Cynthia Erivo, also nominated for Best Actress, wrote and sang this song, and while I don’t personally find it all that memorable, it has certainly been picking up steam lately.

Possible Upset: “Into the Unknown”, Frozen II

Never count out Disney. That said, after missing an animated feature nomination, “Frozen II” doesn’t seem like much of a threat.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Toy Story 4”, “Breakthrough”

MY Fave: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”, Rocketman


A trend in recent years is that these two categories are typically won by the same film. Last year “Bohemian Rhapsody” took both of them, and the year before that it was “Dunkirk”. This year, I expect that one movie will take the two awards again, and if it’s split, I don’t know which movie will take what. But the real question is, which one will be the big winner?

The Risky Frontrunner: “1917”

War movies typically do excellently in the sound categories, and this year “1917” seems like the one to beat. If it loses both of these, it may not have the love to win Best Picture. But will it just take one prize and leave the other for…

The Risky Runner-Up: “Ford V Ferrari”

One of the reasons this movie is nominated in Best Picture is largely because it is loved by the sound branch. The sound design in this movie is incredible, and could become a surprise winner in both of these sound categories. 

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Ad Astra”, “Joker”, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, “Star Wars”

My Fave: “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”


This might just be the most wide open award of the night. This award could go in any direction, but I feel like there’s a safer pick. The Academy does love giving this award to the “prestige” movie in the bunch, which means that we have a frontrunner despite the general lack of certainty.

The Safe Bet: “1917”

With its usage of visual effects to blend shots together, and using practical effects and CGI to enhance the WW1 world. “1917” seems like the closest thing to a frontrunner here. It also took home the British Academy Award for VFX. And the Academy does

The Risky Pick: “Avengers: Endgame”

“Avengers” certainly takes home the award for “most VFX”, and may be awarded based on being the biggest movie of the year (and of all-time). But the one thing dragging this down is that it’s not a “serious” film, which means the Academy won’t be rushing to even watch this one.

The Possible Upset: “The Irishman”

Another prestige picture here, this movie changed a bunch of elderly actors into young men. “The Irishman” could rake in votes out of love for the movie itself, but there has been a big backlash against the de-aging effects here, and it’s enough to make this one seem like a longshot.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Star Wars”, “The Lion King”

My Fave: “Avengers: Endgame”


This one is always difficult to predict, because year after year, the front runner is not nominated. Last year “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, which seemed like the likely winner, was left out of the nominations. This year “Apollo 11” which has won pretty much every documentary prize elsewhere, wasn’t nominated here. So what’s left?

The Safe Bet: “American Factory”

A vote for “American Factory” is a vote for the Obamas. This Netflix doc, produced by Barack, is a safe bet because it’s the most easily accessible film in the category, and because voters who don’t watch the films can easily tack onto this one.

The Risky Pick: “Honeyland”

“Honeyland” is the first film to be nominated in both Documentary and International film, which will give it a lot of name recognition on the ballots. It also has been picking up steam with the Academy, with many voters singling it out as one of their favorites. If anything else can beat the Obamas.

The Possible Upset: “For Sama”

And “For Sama” is the most critically acclaimed documentary of the year. If voters watch all of the movies, they’re likely to go for this one simply based on this being so memorable and emotionally devastating.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “The Edge of Democracy”, “The Cave”

My Fave: “For Sama”


Yet another wide open race. This award has gone to different movies at pretty much every ceremony. The Golden Globes gave it to “Missing Link”, the BAFTAs and Annie Awards gave it to “Klaus”, and most other places it has gone to “Toy Story 4”. One thing you can be sure of is that Oscar Voters will never care about this category and will just vote blindly based on name recognition, which means…

The Safe Bet: “Toy Story 4”

Pixar is always the safe pick here, because again, people don’t care about this category and will often just pick the movie that they recognize the name of, and “Toy Story” has the benefit of being a Best Picture Nominated franchise. Which could propel this one to a win.

The Risky Pick: “Klaus”

“Klaus” is the little Netflix animated movie that could. Not only has this gained steam with critics recently, but it’s also been picking up animated awards all over the place. The only question here is whether or not it will have the name recognition to take on a powerhouse like Pixar.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Missing Link”, “I Lost My Body”, “How to Train Your Dragon 3”

My Fave: “Klaus”


The recently renamed “Best International Feature” category is the easiest lock of the night. I mean… come on, one of the Best Picture Frontrunners is here. 

The Lock: “Parasite”

Easy. Lock it up. Just pick this.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Pain and Glory”, “Honeyland”, “Corpus Christi”, “Les Miserables”

My Fave: “Parasite”


The Safe Bet: “The Neighbor’s Window”

This film, about a voyeuristic couple that finds themselves watching the couple in the apartment across the street seems like a clear frontrunner because it balances humor, feels, and a tender way to talk about an issue. I always go by gut feeling of what voters will remember on these categories, and this is one that will stick with voters.

The Risky Pick: “Nefta Football Club”

This one will also stick with voters, but not because of emotions, instead, because this short film is effectively just a joke with a 15 minute lead up. But the movie makes an impression, and will leave voters thinking about it.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Brotherhood”, “Saria”, “A Sister”

My Fave: “Nefta Football Club”


The Safe Bet: “Kitbull”

Pixar shorts are king in this category, and here is a Pixar short that is as cute as they come. The story of a kitten and a pitbull who form a friendship, this is the movie to watch for here.

The Risky Pick: “Hair Love”

The presumed front runner for a while, “Hair Love” is the story of a black father learning how to do his daughter’s hair in her mother’s absence. It’s a touching story, but I believe it’s a touch too melodramatic and cheesy to end up taking the win.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Memorable”, “Daughter”, “Sister”

My Fave: “Kitbull”


The Safe Bet: “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”

This documentary about girls getting an education in Afghanistan is the presumed frontrunner due to its subject matter, but I feel like the film itself doesn’t hold up to be as strong as the title itself makes it out to be, and I feel like the impression that it leaves won’t be strong enough to garner votes.

The Risky Pick: “In the Absence”

Now this is a movie that leaves an impression. Of all of the documentary shorts, this is the one that leaves the audience awestruck. In my screening, the audience was clearly shocked when it rolled credits, which seems like the type of reaction that will end up getting votes.

The Possible Upset: “St Louis Superman”

Directed by Sarnia’s very own Sami Khan, “St Louis Superman” is an emotional, powerful, and memorable portrait of an incredible political activist. If the Oscars are looking to make a statement, then this one is your winner.

Don’t Count On It/Out of the Running: “Walk Run Cha-Cha”, “Life Overtakes Me”

FCFF Fave: St Louis Superman” by Sarnia raised Sami Kahn.