New from Jeff York on The Establishing Shot: GI’S, JOKERS, AND JUDY: MY OSCAR PREDICTIONS FOR 2020

Oscar predictions can be tricky. The contest in each category usually comes down to two real contenders, but the Academy is often fickle and can confound. Lately, there have been few sweeps. The old days of sentimentality driving awards seem long gone. And sure-things aren’t always so. Just ask Glenn Close.

My correct/incorrect ratio for the last few years hasn’t been stellar, so if you’re thinking of following my thinking, be warned. The best I can do is offer educated guesses based on what’s winning other awards, and where the buzz lies.

So, without any further ado, here are my predictions:

BEST PICTURE: “1917”
The serious British war pic will likely squeak past the subtitled, darkly comic “Parasite.”

BEST ACTOR: Joaquin Phoenix “Joker”
Phoenix’s sterling performance has won the most prizes. He’s due. And the popular film scored 11 nods.

BEST ACTRESS: Renee Zellweger “Judy”
Zellweger staged a big comeback and voters love rewarding actors tackling biopics.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Brad Pitt “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Great performance. Beloved actor/producer/star. He’s due and he’s also given the best speeches. A lock.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Laura Dern “Marriage Story”
She’s been sweeping the awards and is a beloved veteran who’s always good in everything. Overdue too.

BEST DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes “1917”
Staging all that choreography, outdoors, in one seemingly seamless shot? It’s the showy direction all can see.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “Parasite”
If Mendes doesn’t take director, Bong Joon Ho will, but he’ll get plenty of podium time, including here.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: “JoJo Rabbit”
It’s between Greta Gerwig for “Little Women” and Taika Waititi, but he won the WGA and BAFTA.

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM: “Parasite”
The most certain lock of the night, and deservedly so. In another year, “Pain and Glory” would’ve been.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: “Toy Story 4”
It could be the Annie-sweeping “Klaus,” but more voters likely saw Pixar’s beloved third sequel.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: “American Factory”
The Obamas helped get this documentary made. Celebrity names help. And it’s a great one.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “1917”
“1917” starts to run the technical tables here with Roger Deakins stunning “one shot.”

BEST SOUND EDITING: “1917”
Its only competition is “Ford v Ferrari.”

BEST SOUND MIXING: “1917”
Its only competition is “Ford v Ferrari.”

BEST EDITING: “Ford v Ferrari”
The winner could and should be “Parasite”, but the car race editing will be clearer to more members.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
Academy voters love to navel-gaze and this film turned Hollywood back to 1969. Should be irresistible.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: “Little Women”
Period pieces usually prevail. Lots of dresses do too. This one has both.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: “Bombshell”
For turning Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly and John Lithgow into Roger Ailes. Remarkably.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: “Joker”
Who says Golden Globes don’t matter? Hildur Guonadottir’s win put her in the game and likely, the gold.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from “Rocketman”
Celebrity names often prevail in this category and they don’t get much bigger than Elton John.

VISUAL EFFECTS: “1917”
The “Jungle Book” win could suggest “The Lion King” prevails here, but “1917” has more prestige.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: “Learning to Skateboard in a War Zone”
Always a tough category to call. This one seems to have the momentum.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT SUBJECT: “Hair Love”
It’s moving, sweet, and the most likable of this year’s animated shorts.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: “The Neighbors’ Window”
Most of the others are downers. This one is serious but more accessible, and even funny at times.

Those are my best guesses, but remember, Oscar always holds a few surprises. Does that mean Antonio Banderas or Adam Driver could upset Phoenix? Will “Parasite” do what “Roma” almost did last year and become the first foreign-language film to win the top prize? Or will Hollywood reward another film that is all about them like Quentin Tarantino’s latest? We shall see Sunday night.

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