2020 Academy Award Nominations – My Thoughts



The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards have been announced and we now know exactly which films will be vying for the coveted golden statuette. My general opinion is that it’s a mixed bag of quality, especially in the Best Picture field. That said, the Oscars are never going to be universally correct for everyone’s tastes.

Best Picture

Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Predicted Win: 1917

The big award this year is a mixed bag. I think this is a three-way race between 1917, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Parasite. I expect 1917 to win as it has dominated the Awards race so far, which is a shame as I didn’t like it very much. I wasn’t invested in any of the film’s characters, felt it was more like watching a video game than a film and felt the story was predictable. My opinion appears to be shared with some of the voters so perhaps Once Upon A Time In Hollywood could win here as I would argue it’s the film that’s most liked by all. Many want Parasite to win and whilst I hope this happens as it is by far the best film in this field, I think like Roma last year, that’s asking too much and it’ll probably just win the Foreign Language category.

I don’t tink the rest of the field have much of a chance. The Irishman was good but not prime Scorsese. Jojo Rabbit received too much of a divided response from critics to win. Ford v Ferrari is a filler choice, despite there being a lot to enjoy. Marriage Story, Little Women and Joker all have more of a chance but are not as popular as the other three. I’m particularly happy that Joker features in this list as it was another breath of fresh air for the comic-book genre and I was worried it may not make the cut due to its divisive response.

As for snubs, it’s a shame not to see The Lighthouse, Us or Uncut Gems as these all looked to be top contenders for these Awards.


Best Actor

Adam Driver for Marriage Story
Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory
Joaquin Phoenix for Joker
Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes
Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Predicted Win: Joaquin Phoenix for Joker

I think Joaquin Phoenix is a dead cert to win for his mesmerising portrayal of the Clowned Prince who honours the role that won Heath Ledger an Oscar as well in The Dark Knight. The rest of the nominees are good choices, with Adam Driver probably the only competition Phoenix has, who gives an excellent performance in Marriage Story.

As good as DiCaprio’s performance is in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, he is overshadowed by Brad Pitt in the film and he has better performances in his career that weren’t even recognised. Jonathan Pryce is good in The Two Popes but the film itself is terrible. Perhaps if either of these were to be swapped out for Adam Sandler’s transformative performance in Uncut Gems, this would have made the category a bit stronger.


Best Actress

Charlize Theron for Bombshell
Cynthia Erivo for Harriet
Renee Zellweger for Judy
Saoirse Ronan for Little Women
Scarlett Johansson for Marriage Story

Predicted Win: Renee Zellweger for Judy

This is a weak category this year. I suspect Zellweger will win here due to her success at the Awards so far this year and her biggest competition and who I think should win here is Scarlett Johansson. A stronger field would have included Lupita Nyong’o’s dual performance in Us, and Florence Pugh in Midsommar.


Best Supporting Actor

Al Pacino for The Irishman
Anthony Hopkins for The Two Popes
Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Joe Pesci for The Irishman
Tom Hanks for A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood

Predicted Win: Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

A very strong set of nominations other than Anthony Hopkins. I think Pitt will continue his Awards run here and he absolutely deserves it. It’s one of his best performances in his long career. It’s particularly good to see Joe Pesci here as he plays a character against type in The Irishman whereas Al Pacino plays himself really.


Best Supporting Actress

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

Predicted Win: Laura Dern for Marriage Story

A stronger set of nominations compared to the leading actress, Dern will likely win here but again, Scarlett Johansson gives an outstanding performance in Jojo Rabbit.


Best Director

Bong Joon Ho for Parasite
Martin Scorsese for The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Sam Mendes for 1917
Todd Phillips for Joker

Predicted Win: Sam Mendes for 1917

This is a strong field this year and it’s a shame that Mendes is going to win, considering it’s probably his weakest film in his varied filmography. The win should go to Tarantino or Bong Joon Ho. It’s ironic to see Todd Philips here considering his direction clearly channels that of Scorsese who is also nominated.


Best Original Screenplay 

Bong Joon-Ho & Han Jin Wan for Parasite
Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story
Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Rian Johnson for Knives Out
Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns for 1917

Predicted Win: Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

A good selection, but I think it’s between Tarantino and Parasite. It’s interesting to see Knives Out garner its only nomination here.


Best Adapted Screenplay

Anthony McCarten for The Two Popes
Greta Gerwig for Little Women
Steve Zaillian for The Irishman
Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit
Todd Phillips & Scott Silver for Joker

Predicted Win: Taika Waititi for Jojo Rabbit

Another tough one to call, I suspect Jojo Rabbit gets its only win here to balance out the field.


Best Foreign Language Film

Corpus Christi
Les Miserables
Pain and Glory

Predicted Win: Parasite

Is there really any chance anything else could win here?


Best Animated Feature

How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

Predicted Win: Toy Story 4

This is another interesting but weak field and I think Toy Story 4 will win here with its unlikely strong reception. It’s interesting to see Frozen 2 get snubbed here.


Best Cinematography

Jarin Blaschke for The Lighthouse
Lawrence Sher for Joker
Robert Richardson for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Rodrigo Prieto for The Irishman
Roger Deakins for 1917

Predicted Win: Roger Deakins for 1917

This is an interesting set of nominations. It can only be Roger Deakins who will win his second award here after recently getting an Oscar for Blade Runner 2049. The photography is very good in 1917, I’ll give the film that. I’d rather the award go to Lawrence Sher who really captures the gritty, neon-lit Gotham City beautifully. It’s refreshing to see The Lighthouse get nominated here. Rodrigo Prieto’s photography in The Irishman is fine but it’s the weakest nomination in the field. A better nominee would be Hoyte van Hoytema for Ad Astra or Pawel Pogorzelski for Midsommar.


Best Editing

Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit

Predicted Win: 1917

This will be another one for 1917’s sweep, especially in its seamless splicing of the various shots together to make the film appear as it is shot in two sequences.


Best Production Design

Jojo Rabbit
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
The Irishman

Predicted Win: 1917

I think this will be another win for 1917, especially with the amount of work that had to go in the design to achieve the two shots.


Best Costume Design

Arianne Phillips for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Mark Bridges for Joker
Mayes C. Rubeo for Jojo Rabbit
Jacqueline Durran for Little Women
Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson for The Irishman

Predicted Win: Jacqueline Durran for Little Women

I think this will be Little Women‘s sole win.

Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson in Greta Gerwig's LITTLE WOMEN.

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Predicted Win: Greg Cannom, Kate Biscoe and Patricia DeHaney for Vice

There’s always a film each year which feels like it doesn’t deserve to get a nomination. It was Suicide Squad a couple of years ago and I think this year, it’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil‘s turn.


Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat for Little Women
Hildur Guonadottir for Joker
John Williams for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Randy Newman for Marriage Story
Thomas Newman for 1917

Predicted Win: Hildur Guðnadóttir for Joker

This is a weak field. Guðnadóttir is the most deserving win here with her sensational cello-based score for Joker which is hypnotic. Newman’s 1917 score is filled with some strong moments, but the composer has done much stronger work in the past. Randy Newman’s score is familiar with his other works and John Williams’ nomination is laughable. A more deserving field would include West Dylan Thordson for Glass, Michael Abels for Us, Hans Zimmer for Dark Phoenix and Disasterpeace for Triple Frontier.


Best Original Song

‘I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away’ from Toy Story 4
‘(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again’ from Rocketman
‘I’m Standing With You’ from Breakthrough
‘Into The Unknown’ from Frozen 2
‘Stand Up’ from Harriet

Predicted Win: ‘Into The Unknown’ from Frozen 2

A very unpredictable field and I’m really not sure who will win this. I’m guessing Frozen 2 due to its single nomination when it was snubbed from the Animation field.


Best Sound Mixing

Ad Astra
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

Predicted Win: 1917

Another surefire win for 1917, it’s good to see Ad Astra here.


Best Sound Editing

Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Predicted Win: 1917

Yet another dead cert for 1917.


Best Visual Effects

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

Predicted Win: 1917

Another win for 1917. The rest of the nominations are fine, although I found the visuals in The Irishman distracting and one of its main flaws. Snubs for this category include John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and Ad Astra.



So based on my predictions, I’m predicting 1917 to be a very dominant presence with the other Best Picture nominees perhaps picking up an Award here and there. I don’t think The Irishman and Ford v Ferrari will get anything. For sure in the technical categories, 1917 will sweep the board.

There are a few films that, inevitably, have been overlooked. These include:

  • The Lighthouse – other than for Best Cinematography, no nominations at all despite getting good reviews and being released in Awards season
  • Waves – some found this to be Awards bait but I really liked it
  • Uncut Gems – no nominations at all despite a transformative Adam Sandler performance and strong direction and technical attributes
  • Dragged Across Concrete – my personal favourite film of 2019, although this was never going to get a nomination

It’ll be interesting to see to what extent 1917 sweeps the board.

The Academy Award Winners will be announced on Sunday 9th February

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