'And the Oscar goes to ...' Final predictions for the 92nd Academy Awards

After months of campaigning and a gauntlet of red carpets, the Oscar ceremony is almost here. CBC's Eli Glasner has a preview of what to expect. 

It's 1917 vs. Parasite in the final battle of awards season

After months of campaigning, the Oscars will be handed out on Sunday. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

(Full list of nominees is found at the bottom of the story)

Let's be honest. 

You're kind of ready for it to be over, aren't you? 

This is the problem with an awards season that stretches from the dying days of summer to mid-winter. After a while, the whole process gathers a sense of inevitability. 

A few days from now, we'll see the stage of the Dolby Theatre glittering in all its finery. An editor will have cut a witty montage mashing a year's worth of cinema into three tidy minutes and then the awards will finally be handed out.

I feel secure in predicting the show will be long, lacking a host and, for the most part, surprises.

And yet, the biggest prize is also the toughest to call. 

In a year when there are once again calls for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to do more to reflect the changing face of the audience, the race for best picture comes down to a classic Hollywood throwback versus a savage look at class struggle.

The war film with a real shot at best picture

1917 is more than a period piece, it's also a stunt. A series of lengthy shots stitched together to appear as one continuous take puts the audience in the centre of the action as two British soldiers try to prevent a massacre during the First World War. 

Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and shot by Roger Deakins (Fargo), the Oscar-winning team behind 1917 has racked up wins at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, and from the producers and directors guilds. 

The South Korean contender 

But then there's the surprising rise of Parasite. More than any other film in the best picture category, Parasite is a movie made for now. The setting may be Korean, but the themes are universal.

From Hustlers to Joker to Knives Out, so many of this season's award contenders take place on a backdrop of economic anxiety.  

But no film explores the tension between the haves and the have-nots as expertly as Parasite. Director Bong Joon Ho's thriller features two families on opposite ends of the economic spectrum. You can feel the Kim family's yearning for a better life and sense how the super-rich Parks try to keep the Kims from overstepping their roles.


Parasite is also a sign of how the industry is changing. The film has already broken through the language barrier, winning awards for best screenplay at the BAFTAS and best ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards — a first for a foreign language film.

But predicting the Oscars is an exercise in cynicism. This is still an academy that is 84 per cent white and 68 per cent male. How many members are ready to embrace the Korean contender?  How many will rally to the old-fashioned war film? 

In the end, the best picture prize is determined by a preferential ballot. That means the film that has the most overall support, even a mixture of first- and second-place votes, can triumph. Being the safe and familiar choice is how 1917 wins. 


Best actor/actress

Actors Renée Zellweger, left, and Joaquin Phoenix are favourites to win on Sunday. (The Associated Press)

If there's one thing Oscar votes for consistently, it's roles that require physical transformations (see Monster and Boys Don't Cry). Add to that the portrayal of a famous Hollywood icon, and Renée Zellweger's performance as Judy Garland is a lock. But let's give Zellweger credit, part of what makes her portrayal so poignant is that Zellweger herself has felt what it's like to lose the limelight. Performing the role of the troubled star with such gusto was a hell of a way to return.

WINNER: Renée Zellweger in Judy 

When it comes to the best actor race, few would have predicted Joaquin Phoenix could catch Oscar's eye for playing the same comic book villain that earned the late Heath Ledger a statue in 2009. But while the movie Joker is a superficial, albeit effective, exercise in style, Phoenix's performance as the troubled man who becomes the killer clown has an undeniable pull. With his skeletal frame and rictus grin, he melts into the skin of Arthur Fleck.

WINNER: Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

Supporting actor/actress

Actors Laura Dern, left, and Brad Pitt have won plenty of awards leading up to the Oscars. (The Associated Press)

In an ideal world, we'd be celebrating the inevitable win of Florence Pugh for her performance as the slippery and headstrong Amy from Little Women. But it will be Laura Dern who goes home with Oscar for her performance as Nora, the divorce attorney from Marriage Story. It's not easy to steal the spotlight from Scarlett Johansson, but Dern does it effortlessly every time she sashays onto the screen. 

WINNER: Laura Dern in Marriage Story

In Brad Pitt's inevitable acceptance speech, he should start by thanking Once Upon a Time in Hollywood writer/director Quentin Tarantino for crafting a part that fits his movie star charisma as perfectly as his character's Hawaiian shirts. Well deserved, but it's a shame the win comes at the cost of passing over the greatest performance of Joe Pesci's career, in The Irishman.

WINNER: Brad Pitt in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Best director

Bong Joon Ho, director of Parasite, left, and Sam Mendes, director of 1917. (The Associated Press/Getty Images)

Much like the race for best picture, best director is a tight one. Not only is there Sam Mendes, the director of 1917, and Bong Joon Ho, the man behind Parasite. But Quentin Tarantino is also in the hunt, and while he's won two Oscars for screenwriting, Tarantino has never won a directing Oscar. However, with the tangible love in the industry for Bong Joon Ho, the best director trophy will be his consolation prize for 1917 taking best picture. 

WINNER: Bong Joon Ho

Original and adapted screenplay

Writer-filmmakers, from left, Rian Johnson, Greta Gerwig, Taika Waititi, Noah Baumbach and Quentin Tarantino are among the 2020 Academy Award nominees in the original and adapted screenplay categories. (The Associated Press)

The best original screenplay category is loaded with talent, including Bong Joon Ho and Parasite co-writer Han Jin Won. But this is where voters will likely find a way to reward Tarantino's groovalicious love letter to La La Land, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. 

WINNER: Quentin Tarantino

Then there's the adapted screenplay category where Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit could pull off an upset. The comedy set in Nazi-era Germany wasn't taken seriously initially, but more and more academy voters have been talking about the film lately. Could it be the adorable bromance between Waititi and Bong Joon Ho on the awards circuit? Or that voters have finally gotten around to appreciating how deftly Waititi skewered the fanatical regime? 

In the end, the adapted screenplay category will be one of the few places Oscar voters can address the paucity of female nominees this year. While Greta Gerwig's effervescent direction of Little Women was overlooked, her inspired approach to the screenplay will lead to a well-deserved Oscar win. 

WINNER: Greta Gerwig

And a few of the rest: 

Best score: Iceland's own Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker.

Best song: (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again — a new song by Elton John and Bernie Taupin written for Rocketman. 

Best production design: 1917.

Best costume design: Little Women (when in doubt, vote for the pretty frocks). 

Best cinematography : 1917 — Roger Deakins wins again. 

Best documentary: If there's any justice, The Cave, but I would also accept American Factory.

Winning an Oscar has a lot of money at stake, and most of that prize isn't in the statue itself. 3:08

Here is the full list of nominees: 

Best picture

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


  • Martin Scorsese, The Irishman.
  • Todd Phillips, Joker.
  • Sam Mendes, 1917.
  • Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
  • Bong Joon Ho, Parasite.

Actor in a leading role

  • 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.

Actress in a leading role

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

Actress in a supporting role

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

Actor in a supporting role

  • 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.

Original song

  • I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away, Randy Newman (Toy Story 4).
  • (I'm Gonna) Love Me Again, Elton John and Bernie Taupin (Rocketman).
  • I'm Standing With You, Diane Warren (Breakthrough).
  • Into the Unknown,  Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez (Frozen 2).
  • Stand Up, Cynthia Erivo and Joshua Brian Campbell (Harriet).

Original score

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

Animated feature film

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

Animated short film

  • Dcera (Daughter).
  • Hair Love.
  • Kitbull.
  • Memorable.
  • Sister.

Live action short film

  • Brotherhood.
  • Nefta Football Club.
  • The Neighbors' Window.
  • Saria.
  • A Sister.

Documentary feature

  • American Factory.
  • The Cave.
  • The Edge of Democracy.
  • For Sama.
  • Honeyland.

Documentary short subject

  • In the Absence.
  • Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl).
  • Life Overtakes Me.
  • St. Louis Superman.
  • Walk Run Chacha.

Sound mixing

  • Ad Astra.
  • Ford V. Ferrari.
  • Joker.
  • 1917.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Sound editing

  • Ford v Ferrari.
  • Joker.
  • 1917.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

International feature film

  • Corpus Christi.
  • Honeyland.
  • Les Misérables.
  • Pain and Glory.
  • Parasite.

Production design

  • The Irishman.
  • Jojo Rabbit.
  • 1917.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
  • Parasite.

Film editing

  • Ford v Ferrari.
  • The Irishman.
  • Jojo Rabbit.
  • Joker.
  • Parasite.


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

Visual effects

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

Costume design 

  • The Irishman.
  • Jojo Rabbit.
  • Joker.
  • Little Women.
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Makeup and hairstyling

  • Bombshell.
  • Joker.
  • Judy.
  • Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.
  • 1917.

Adapted screenplay

  • The Irishman.
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker.
  • Little Women.
  • The Two Popes.

Original screenplay

  • Knives Out.
  • Marriage Story.
  • 1917.
  • Once Upon a Time In Hollywood.
  • Parasite.



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