Oscar Predictions 2020 | What Will Win And What Should Win

Mark Conroy indulges in his annual act of oracle-like analysis with his Oscar predictions for 2020.

Best Picture

What Will Win: Parasite

What Should Win: Parasite

Yes you are correct. You do not have to scream at the screen in indignation. Sam Mendes’ showy, long-shot war film 1917 has won nearly everything in existence in the run up to the awards: Best Drama at the Globes, Best Film at BAFTAS and the strongest predictor of all, the top prize at the Producers Guild awards. On paper, it certainly appears a lock for the big award here.


There is just something, however, about the admittedly inauspicious momentum of Bong Joon-ho’s biting social satire. Its victory at the SAG’s may have been helped by 1917’s lack of nomination but recent, surprising screenplay wins make it a genuine contender. Parasite’s win would be poetic justice too. Roma should have been the first non-English language film to secure Best Picture but lost out to on-the-nose drama Green Book last year. An unexpected victory for the critically acclaimed Korean “social-thriller” would vindicate the Academy somewhat.

Best Director

Who Will Win: Sam Mendes, 1917

Who Should Win: Martin Scorsese, The Irishman

Common sense has been restored and we are going with the bookie’s favourite on this one. Mendes has taken home just everything worth taking in the last couple months, including a doubt-erasing Director’s Guild award. Make no mistake he will win this in what could very well be another year in which Director and Picture go to different films, an occurrence which has almost become the norm rather than the exception.

The award really should go to Scorsese. His meditative, gangster epic The Irishman is not just the man’s best film in years but a win would be a perfect cap on the career for one of American cinema’s greatest auteurs. It would be especially fitting for a film that reflects on and dissects the violent, destructive men he made immortal throughout his career.

Best Actor

Who Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker

Who Should Win: Antonio Banderas, Pain & Glory

For about the 15th year in a row, the acting categories are the easiest ones to predict. We haven’t seen a real shock in this area since Adrian Brody’s win for The Pianist way back in 2003. This year’s ceremony looks like they will follow that trend rather than buck it. Phoenix will ensure that the Joker becomes only the second fictional character whose portrayal offers up two Oscar-winning performances. But while his contorted creation is an impressive feat, the performance suffers from a hackneyed final act and a film in search of a point.

Banderas would be the deserved winner here. His touching, deftly-tortured take on a version of director Pedro Aldmovar in Pain & Glory is the most moving turn here. What a denouement it would be for a director/actor partnership that goes back nearly four decades. Too bad it won’t happen.

Best Actress

Who Will Win: Renée Zellwegger, Judy

Who Should Win: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story

You just can’t beat a good narrative. In 2013, it was all about the McConnaisance. In 2020 it’s all about the eh..RENÉssaince. Not as catchy I’ll admit but Zellwegger’s appearance on podiums is being hailed as yet another of the Oscar’s favourite personal stories: that of the great reappearance act. Following early-career success, Zellwegger has spent the last decade on the relative sidelines–six years of which were of her own volition. A biopic of a troubled Hollywood legend like Judy Garland only had to be okay for her to be in with a shout. By all accounts it was, and she was a bit better.

Of the nominees here, Johansson offers up the most accomplished effort. Reductive critics be damned, her monologues as a soon-to-be divorcee struggling to create a new life for herself are something to behold.

Best Supporting Actor

Who Will Win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Who Should Win: Al Pacino, The Irishman

It is very likely that Pitt will win in a category that Quentin Tarantino films have historically had a lot of success in. The latter fact makes sense, given the writer/directors’ penchant for material suited for great character actors. After Christoph Waltz’s brace for Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained, Pitt’s victory would be the third Supporting Actor win for a Tarantino outing. It would not be undservered too. His infectiously easy-going and slightly off-putting stuntman Cliff Booth successfully utilizes the man’s star-powered charisma.

Saying that, Pacino just pips him in terms of impactful supporting roles. The Jimmy Hoffa of The Irishman is the tragic, emotional centre of an ice-cold film. Pacino’s manic and sometimes unpredictable ferocity, which characterised so much of his later work, is honed perfectly by Scorsese.

Best Supporting Actress

Who Will Win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story

Who Should Win: Florence Pugh, Little Women

Look, I have no problem with Laura Dern winning an oscar. I want to see it happen. As a card-carrying cinephile, I should probably be dragged somewhere remote and shot for even suggesting it shouldn’t happen. She is suitably intimidating as a blood-thirsty divorce lawyer who capitalizes on a fractured relationship.

I just happen to think that Pugh is better. For starters, she convincely plays both a 13-year-old and a 20 something in the space of one run-time. Her unrequited devotion pierces the heart and her prepubescent outbursts are comically uncanny. The most exciting young actor today deserves the recognition.

Best Original Screenplay

Who Will Win: Bong Joon Ho & Han Jin Won, Parasite

Who Should Win: Bong Joon Ho & Han Jin Won, Parasite

Just one month ago, this seemed like a little more than a two-horse race between Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Then victories at Writers Guild Awards and the BAFTAs put the Parasite screenwriters firmly in the driving seat. We are now at the stage that it would be a minor shock would Parasite not win.This is a good thing. But the multiple contenders being in with a shot could bring on an upset. Rian Johnson’s Knives Out script could benefit from a packed list of nominees.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Who Will Win: Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit

Who Should Win: Greta Gerwig, Little Women

Whatever your opinions about the film, the continued award success of Jojo Rabbit is quite remarkable. The deeply polarising satire set in Nazi Germany is hardly a complete critical success, was a flop upon US release and yet it managed six nominations here. No one seems to have seen it yet everyone knows about this mostly decent film. It’s quirky style and dash of perceived edge seems to have done enough, however, as Waititi looks the likely winner here.

The Irishman’s Steven Zaillian must have felt confident in his chances for his excellent tome of a script but if the film doesn’t win here, it’s not winning anything all night. Greta Gerwig’s fantastic adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, which breathed new life into an old classic, deserves to give her an appearance on that podium.

Best Documentary

What Will Win: For Sama

What Should Win: For Sama

There’s often a glaring omission among the documentary nominees and this year is no different. Moon landing doc Apollo 11 wasn’t just one of 2019s best non-fiction works but one of its best looking films too. No small feat for a feature made entirely of 50-year-old footage. Shockingly, its been ignored here. The heartbreaker For Sama seems a safe bet and would bring much needed attention to a still grueling civil war in Syria. Don’t count out the Chinese-American culture clash of American Factory either.

And the rest…

Best International Feature

What will Win: Parasite

What Should Win: Parasite

Should really go without saying.

Best Cinematography

Who Will Win: Roger Deakins,1917

Who Should Win: Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse

Roger Deakins Oscar wins are like London buses. You wait 25 years for one than two come along at once.

Best Animated Feature

What Will Win: Toy Story 4

What Should win: I Lost My Body

Best Original Score

What Will Win: Joker

What Should Win: Joker

Best Production Design

What Will Win: 1917

What Should Win: Parasite

Best Editing

What Will Win: Ford v Ferrari

What Should Win: The Irishman

Best Sound Mixing

What Will Win: 1917

What Should Win: 1917

Best Sound Editing

What Will Win: 1917

What Should Win: 1917

Best Visual Effects

What Will Win: 1917

What Should Win: The Irishman

Best Costume Design

What Will Win: Little Women

What Should Win: Little Women

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

What Will Win: Bombshell

What Should Win: Bombshell

Best Original Song

What Will Win: ‘Into the Unknown,’ Frozen II

Best Short Film

What Will Win: A Sister

Best Documentary Short

What Will Win: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone

Best Animated Short

What Will Win: Kitbull