Oscars predictions from The DePaulia’s chief film critic


Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Leading up to the ceremony, the Academy has fueled further debate over their decision to cut the presentation of certain awards.

Michael Brzezinski, Chief Film Critic:

Awards season is reaching its tail end with the hotly anticipated Oscars (which will take place on Sunday, February 9th @ 7 p.m. central). It’s almost a tradition at this point for there to be mass controversy over nominees and 2020 is no different. The inclusion of Todd Phillips’ “Joker” (the film with the most nominations at 11) has sparked controversy along with yet again, a staggering lack of diversity amongst the nominees. No female directors were nominated this year despite 2019 being a landmark year for big studio movies directed by women. On top of that, only two people of color were nominated in  acting categories. 

The Oscars will resume as hostless this year for the second year in a row. We will see if the inclusion of big blockbusters and the once-in-a-lifetime breakout hit of “Parasite” will spark enough interest to attract more viewers. Like every year, I  will be watching and keeping track of my predictions for how the categories will play out. My predictions are as follows:

Best Picture:

Will Win: “1917”

Should Win: “The Irishman”

Sam Mendes’ intense sprawling World War 1 saga has been collecting top prizes all around the awards circuit lately on top of also being a massive box office success and dynamite critical hit. While it’s a major cinematic achievement, it doesn’t come anywhere near the level of Martin Scorsese’s profound and transfixing gangster epic to end all gangster epics.

Best Director:

Will Win: Sam Mendes

Should Win: Sam Mendes

Much like his film, Mendes has been racking up all of the awards, and deservedly so. He accomplishes some genuinely next-level form in “1917.” The only potential threat is world-renowned and now Twitter’s favorite filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho of “Parasite”

Best Actor:

Will Win: Joaquin Phoenix

Should Win: Antonio Banderas

At this point, it is inevitable for Joaquin to become the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the comic book villain The Joker following Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”. While that performance is certainly dynamic, Antonio Banderas’ subdued and heartbreaking portrayal of an aging broken filmmaker reaching a personal and artistic breakthrough in his life is one of the most beautiful performances of this century so far.

Best Actress:

Will Win: Renée Zellweger

Should Win: Renée Zellweger

Zellweger’s stunning portrayal of Judy Garland has been generating nonstop buzz ever since it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival to unanimous praise. This is an absolute lock.

Best Supporting Actor:

Will Win: Brad Pitt

Should Win: Brad Pitt

Pitt has had a genuinely unbelievable year and a big part of it is his magnetic and deeply engaging portrayal of a troubled stuntman and ultimately an amazing friend in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”. He gave by far the best speeches at the Globes and the SAG awards, so I can’t wait to see what he does on the stage of the Dolby Theatre.

Best Supporting Actress:

Will Win: Laura Dern

Should Win: Florence Pugh

While I still will never forgive the Academy for snubbing the complete and utter perfection that is Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers,” I was still overjoyed to see them recognize the  talent that Pugh displayed in reinventing the much maligned character of Amy March. The awards circuit so far has been greatly in favor of Laura Dern’s thorny and wildly entertaining performance as ScarJo’s divorce lawyer in “Marriage Story”.

Best Original Screenplay:

Will Win: “Once Upon a Time in…Hollywood

Should Win: “Marriage Story”

Tarantino almost always runs away with this category whenever he is nominated winning two out of the three times he’s been nominated for it . This time around, the award  should go to Noah Baumbach, not just for the perfection that is “Marriage Story,” but also the expansive career of deeply inspired and nuanced writing he has lent to the industry.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Will Win: “The Irishman”

Should Win: “The Irishman”

Steven Zallian did the seemingly impossible and turned this huge and layered story into a pitch-perfect and tight screenplay that accents everything we love about the gangster genre. He will probably be recognized once again.

Best Animated Feature:

Will Win: “Toy Story 4”

Should Win: “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

Disney and Pixar will most likely go four-for-four in this category  with the “Toy Story” franchise. However, this should not downplay the fact that DreamWorks provided an unbelievably satisfying ending to quite possibly their best series with “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”.

Best International Feature:

Will Win: “Parasite”

Should Win: “Pain & Glory”

On one hand, Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho’s ] social thriller has set the whole world on fire with “Parasite”. But on the other, Pedro Almodovar has summarized all of the best things of his entire decades-long career in one major masterful work of love and art in “Pain & Glory.”

Best Documentary Feature:

Will Win: “American Factory”

Should Win: “Honeyland”

“Honeyland”, the unconventional Macedonian cinema-verte semi-epic about a dying breed of bee keepers may prove to be too niche for the Academy which is why I predict “American Factory”, the Obama-produced highly-political study of a Chinese-owned factory in Ohio to win.