Let’s take a stab at Oscar picks

February 8, 2020

Issa Rae, one of the most prodigious actor/writer/producers in Hollywood today (“Insecure”) read the list of nominees for this year’s 92nd Academy Award nominations earlier in January and chided, “Congratulations to all those men,” after reading the list of all-male directors up for Best Director this year. 

Despite the fact that the Academy touts a record 62 women nominated, none made it to the finish line for best feature director, despite acclaimed efforts from Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”) and Marielle Heller (“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”). 

Also, the awards were cited for yet another year of mostly white nominations (no Eddie Murphy? No Lupita Nyong’o?). 

Despite the snubs, the show will go on. Sunday, Feb. 9, the stars will take the stage and I, as I attempt each year, will take a stab at predicting the winners as well as noting the ones most deserving of the award. So let’s take the leap, shall we?

Original Screenplay
  • Knives Out 
  • Marriage Story 
  • 1917 
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
  • Parasite

Who will win: “Hollywood,” as the Academy always enjoys films about itself. And Tarantino does deliver a heartfelt rewrite of a slice of history. 

Who should win: “Parasite” is filled with subtle, sharp observations that continue to pay off after repeat views. 

Adapted Screenplay
  • The Irishman 
  • Jojo Rabbit 
  • Joker
  • Little Women 
  • The Two Popes

Who will win: This one will be a tough call between “Jojo Rabbit” and “Little Women,” and since “Women” has been such a late entry with substantial buzz, look for it to squeak ahead. 

Who should win: “The Irishman” doesn't look to take home much, and despite its many shortcomings, its last act is a tragic ruination of the lifestyle Scorcese so often showcased on screen. 

Best Documentary
  • American Factory 
  • The Cave 
  • The Edge of Democracy 
  • For Sama 
  • Honeyland

Who will win: “Factory” has been earning much love and will perhaps continue its streak here. 

Who should win: “Honeyland,” which takes viewers to a virtual edge of civilization and managed to capture some of the most stunning images on the big screen this year. 

Best Animated Feature
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World 
  • I Lost My Body 
  • Klaus 
  • Missing Link 
  • Toy Story 4

Who will win: “Toy Story” is certainly the one to beat, but since “3” took home awards, they may shift the prize to “Dragon.”

Who should win: “Body” is a beautiful meditation on destiny and free will, but it may be a bit too esoteric for mainstream voters. 

Best International Film
  • Corpus Christi, Poland 
  • Honeyland, North Macedonia 
  • Les Míserables, France 
  • Pain and Glory, Spain 
  • Parasite, South Korea

Who will and should win: “Parasite” (if nothing else, perhaps it will demonstrate the ever-increasing global crossover in film selections and this category’s obscurity.)

Best Picture
  • Ford v Ferrari 
  • The Irishman 
  • Jojo Rabbit 
  • Joker 
  • Little Women 
  • Marriage Story 
  • 1917 
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
  • Parasite

Who will win: “Parasite” has been the odds-on favorite for a while, but a flurry of awards for “1917” and “Once Upon a Time” have them edging ever closer. 

Who should win: “Parasite.” if it wins, it’ll be the first foreign-language film in Oscar history and a deserving one for that honor.

Best Director
  • Martin Scorsese, The Irishman 
  • Todd Phillips, Joker 
  • Sam Mendes, 1917 
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
  • Bong Joon-ho, Parasite

Who will win: Mendes, for his stunning work behind the camera in 1917.

Who should win: Mendes, as the film is more of a technical marvel than a narrative one. That is not diminishing its power; it’s just a different appreciation.

Best Actress
  • Cynthia Erivo, Harriet 
  • Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story 
  • Saoirse Ronan, Little Women 
  • Charlize Theron, Bombshell 
  • Renée Zellweger, Judy

Who will win: I’m surprised they have not mailed it to Zellweger a week in advance. Hollywood loves a good comeback story and movies about itself. 

Who should win: Since this year’s best performance in this category is not on the list (Nyong’o in “Us,” the long stretches of dialogue required by Johansson were her best to date on the screen. 

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 

Who will win: Phoenix is another lock for the award this year.  

Who should win: While Phoenix made the most of his role in the dreary “Joker,” Driver is deserving for the sheer volume of excellent work this year alone, not just in “Marriage,” but “The Report” and that “Star Wars” flick.

Supporting Actress
  • Kathy Bates, Richard Jewell 
  • Laura Dern, Marriage Story 
  • Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit 
  • Florence Pugh, Little Women 
  • Margot Robbie, Bombshell

Who will win: Laura Dern, for her lived-in performance.

Who should win: Pugh drove “Little Women” with her feisty performance. 

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

Who will win: Pitt 

Who should win: Pitt, who has transcended his pretty-boy roots and provided decades of strong performances, is “Hollywood’s” anchor. 

This could perhaps be the most exciting – and closest – category of the night. Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) shouldn’t go celebrating yet. 

Here are some additional quick takes for your Oscar pool:

Original Score
  • Joker 
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story 
  • 1917 
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Who will win: “Marriage Story”

Visual Effects
  • Avengers: Endgame 
  • The Irishman 
  • The Lion King 
  • 1917 
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Who will win: “Endgame”

Original Song
  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” Toy Story 4 “
  • (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” Rocketman 
  • “I’m Standing With You,” Breakthrough 
  • “Into the Unknown” Frozen 2 
  • “Stand Up,” Harriet

Who will win: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” 

Best Cinematography
  • The Irishman 
  • Joker 
  • The Lighthouse 
  • 1917 
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Who will win: 1917


  • Rob is the head of the English and Communications Department at Delaware Technical Community College, where he teaches film. He is also one of the founders of the Rehoboth Beach Film Society. Email him at

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