It‘s Academy Awards time. Therefore, here are our Oscar predictions. Feel free to keep score at home. Watch the ceremony 7 p.m. Sunday on KVUE.
"Ford v Ferrari"
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Should win: The more I think about it, the more I want "Parasite" to come in first. Forget about its expert direction; it would be lovely to see something not in English take the prize. (Besides, there’s nothing more American than dark humor; simmering class resentment that one denies existing until it boils over; and lots of extreme violence.)
Will win: Look, it’s probably going to be "1917," with its one-take war movie thing. It won the big prize at the Golden Globes (decided by the Hollywood Foreign Press) and BAFTAs.
But, quite frankly, the U.S. doesn’t have the same relationship to World War I as Europe and especially the U.K. It’s certainly a singular movie, but I can easily see "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," with its hooray-for-Hollywood (or middle-class Hollywood) themes, winning a plurality of votes.
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Antonio Banderas, "Pain and Glory"
Adam Driver, "Marriage Story"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Joker"
Jonathan Pryce, "The Two Popes"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Should win: Antonio Banderas, no question. The role of a lifetime, right here: A chance to play, with pathos and love and care and humor, a version of the director who saw and trusted his early talent, directed by that director. It was the performance of the year and Banderas’ personal best.
Will win: In final, clinching proof that the throne of Heaven stands empty and Earth orbits an indifferent sun, Joaquin Phoenix. It’s really too bad but, then again, you want a role that embodies 2019, well, here we are.
Cynthia Erivo, "Harriet"
Scarlett Johansson, "Marriage Story"
Saoirse Ronan, "Little Women"
Renée Zellweger, "Judy"
Charlize Theron, "Bombshell"
Should win: Unlike the supporting actress category, which seems like a game of inches, this one inspires a large "Yeah, she was fine" for virtually all the nominees. Ronan’s performance was the least showy. Johansson was on Netflix. "Bombshell" was about Fox News and, no matter how damning, I can’t see the academy doing anything to reward its existence. British Erivo got heat for some unfortunate tweets about African Americans, and I would be shocked if the academy wants to wade into that mess. So it might as well go to the lady who ...
Will win: Renée Zellweger. She’s already picked up a Globe and a SAG award and, frankly, the idea of aging academy members somehow voting against Judy Garland, even fake Judy Garland, is impossible to image.
Best Supporting Actor
Anthony Hopkins, "The Two Popes"
Al Pacino, "The Irishman"
Joe Pesci, "The Irishman"
Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Tom Hanks, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"
Should win: Good ol’ Joe Pesci, no question. The guy has been around forever, and a Scorsese regular for somehow longer. But as Russell Bufalino in "The Irishman," he’s actually subtle, which is something we’ve never seen before from the guy perhaps most famous for losing his temper in virtually every other movie he’s ever been in. The guy was mesmerizing in every scene.
Will win: Oh, probably Brad Pitt. It’s weird this performance wasn’t put in the lead category but A) that would put Pitt against Leo, and we can‘t have that and besides, B) it is virtually impossible not to like the guy, no matter what he is doing on screen.
And I am not sure I have seen a more savvy PR move this year, real or contrived, than him flirting with ex-wife Jennifer Aniston, which made celebrity-watching bosoms the globe over heave with a very special excitement.
Best Supporting Actress
Kathy Bates, "Richard Jewell"
Laura Dern, "Marriage Story"
Scarlett Johansson, "Jojo Rabbit"
Florence Pugh, "Little Women"
Margot Robbie, "Bombshell"
Should win: Nobody saw "Richard Jewell." ScarJo was good but not great, and Robbie was in the One About Fox News (see above). Which leaves Florence Pugh and Laura Dern, both of whom were excellent in very different kinds of parts. Either one would be a logical choice.
Will win: The great Laura Dern. She’s been around forever; she’s never gotten an Oscar; she picked up a Golden Globe and a SAG Award; and Pugh is only 24. Her time will come, sooner rather than later, one suspects.
Best Original Screenplay
"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Should win: I loved the script for "Knives Out," but it’s hard to ignore the fact that it resonated most with middle-aged and younger viewers who simply may have never seen a whodunit before. It’s not like they are thick on the ground in 2019. Older Oscar voters might look at it with an "OK, fine, it’s a classic whodunit update, what else you got, kid?" eye.
"Parasite," on the other hand, is a massively original work, nuanced and savage and funny and violent all at once.
Will win: I can‘t not see a win by "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." The academy loves Quentin Tarantino the screenwriter, and this one’s even about how awesome Hollywood was in the good old days of the *checks notes* Manson murders.
Best Adapted Screenplay
"The Two Popes"
Should win: Ignore "Joker," which uses the DC Comics baddie’s name and killer-clown look and almost nothing else. "The Irishman" and "Jojo Rabbit" are remarkable adaptations of complicated material and could cancel each other out as such.
Then there‘s "Little Women," which — except for those who wanted the most literal translation of Louisa May Alcott’s life-changing book — served to placate, not to mention entertain, a fanbase that takes seriously the source material, as well as new fans who were there for Ronan and Pugh and Timothée Chalamet.
Will win: "Little Women."
Bong Joon Ho, "Parasite"
Sam Mendes, "1917"
Todd Phillips, "Joker"
Martin Scorsese, "The Irishman"
Quentin Tarantino, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Should win: The guy Martin Scorsese, or perhaps Bong Joon Ho. Love it or leave it, Scorsese made a movie people talked about, revising and demythologizing the streetwise gangster epics upon which he made his bones. And Bong did something rare with his smart, critically acclaimed, non-English-language movie: He directed a film that resonated with the sorts of folks who might not normally go to critically acclaimed, non-English-language movies, and it made a ton of money.
Will win: Sigh. Sam Mendes, who already picked up a Golden Globe and three BAFTAs for "1917." Even if, again, Europe and the U.K. have a closer relationship with the source material than the U.S., Mendes made a powerful, innovative war movie that emphasized the alienating exhaustion of the battlefield and did it all in what looked like one take, which is quite a feat.