Oscars predictions 2020: Who will and who should win in the major categories?

One, a beautifully crafted war movie with a simple story of courage and perseverance. A safe choice.

The other, a meticulously made social satire with a jawdropping story, in Korean. A gutsy choice.

The 2020 Oscar race has come down to these two brilliant films, the frontrunners to take home both Best Picture and Best Director – Sam Mendes’ 1917 and Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite.

It’s the only race that really matters at the Oscars in an awards season that has otherwise been a predictable (the acting categories have been locked away for some time), if not sometimes infuriating year.

Traditional awards bodies don’t tend to look beyond the, well, traditional choices.

We may shake our fists at the Oscars for being out of step, but it really is, for better or worse, still the most high-profile awards in the film industry.

With the ceremony only hours away (12pm AEDT on Monday, February 10), here’s our best predictions for who will win the major awards.


Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon in Hollywood

1917 is the favourite to win Best PictureSource:AP

The two frontrunners here are easily Parasite and 1917, each choice representing something different.

Parasite is only the 10th foreign language film to be nominated in this category and Bong Joon-ho’s universally acclaimed story about two families (one rich, one poor) and their effects on each other’s lives is a biting, darkly comical and shocking parable about modern life.

Since winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May, Parasite has had incredible momentum, but can voters get over the subtitles factor? A Parasite win would be an upset but one that would have few detractors, and one that actually recognised what was the best film of last year.

Sam Mendes’ 1917 is Parasite’s biggest competition, and the frontrunner after winning the Directors Guild Awards, the BAFTA and the Producers Guild Awards, which all cross over with the Oscars voting body.

Mendes’ film is a crowd-pleaser and ticks a lot of technical boxes – plus voters may feel the International Feature gong for Parasite will be compensatory for Bong.

Neither frontrunners have any acting nominations (even though Parasite won the Ensemble award at the Screen Actors Guild awards) and the last movie to win Best Picture without any acting nods was Slumdog Millionaire, 11 years ago.

Which gives Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s tribute to a bygone era, the chance to sneak in and scoop the top prize.

Will win: 1917
Should win: Parasite
Could win: Parasite


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

Parasite's Bong Joon-ho could be a spoiler for Best Director

Parasite’s Bong Joon-ho could be a spoiler for Best DirectorSource:News Regional Media

Directing is a similar race to Picture in that it’s down between Sam Mendes for 1917 and Bong Joon-ho for Parasite.

Bong has been a delight on the awards circuit – his unadulterated excitement at seeing his actors win the SAG ensemble prize earnt him many more fans. There’s even a name for them – the Bong Hive.

He may not be known to a lot of mainstream audiences, but the South Korean director’s work is popular among Hollywood types. Again, the biggest barrier to a Bong victory is that Parasite will win in International Feature, which is given to the director and not the producer, and voters may think that will be Bong’s award.

If Mendes win, it’ll be 20 years exactly following his victory in the same category for American Beauty. Voters may want to reward Mendes for the work that went into 1917, a technical gem in which the film is made to look as if it’s one continuous shot, but others may think the look of it is more down to cinematographer Roger Deakins.

Also, never completely count out Tarantino (who has never won in this category) or Scorsese.

Will win: Sam Mendes, 1917
Should win: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite
Could win: Bong Joon-ho, Parasite


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

Renee Zellweger is a lock in the Leading Actress category

Renee Zellweger is a lock in the Leading Actress categorySource:News Regional Media

Renee Zellweger, a former winner for Cold Mountain, has had this category sewn up since Judy debuted at Toronto International Film Festival. Her compassionate portrayal of Judy Garland in her final months has been hailed all over – and the Actress category hasn’t been as competitive as its male counterpart this year.

Erivo is the only actor from a diverse background to be nominated in 2020, a sore point, but Harriet hasn’t been widely seen.

Ronan, at only 25 years old, is now on her fourth nomination but she hasn’t had as much momentum while Theron’s performance was good in a movie that wasn’t. If anyone will be a spoiler, it’ll be Johansson, but don’t expect it to go any way other Zellweger’s.

Will win: Renee Zellweger, Judy
Should win: Renee Zellweger, Judy
Could win: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story


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

Joaquin Phoenix is widely expected to win for his performance in Joker

Joaquin Phoenix is widely expected to win for his performance in JokerSource:Supplied

A few months ago, prevailing wisdom had this down as a two-man race between Phoenix and Driver, but every precursor award fell Phoenix’s way for his portrayal of a mentally disturbed Joker in the controversial and nihilistic comic book film.

Phoenix, who has often presented himself as a bit of a kook and anti-Hollywood type, has been gracious and reined in during the awards campaign. In other words, he wants this and he’s been playing the game.

Even those who don’t like Joker acknowledge that Phoenix’s performance was very effective.

Driver, one of the most exciting actors of his generation, turned in an extraordinary performance in Marriage Story as a man going through a divorce and locked in a custody battle. It’s a shame the spoils this awards season hasn’t been shared around.

And Banderas in Pain and Glory is a career best.

Will win: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Should win: Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Could win: Adam Driver, Marriage Story


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

Laura Dern is up against her Marriage Story co-star Scarlett Johansson in this category

Laura Dern is up against her Marriage Story co-star Scarlett Johansson in this categorySource:News Regional Media

Honestly, the best supporting performance from an actress this season wasn’t even nominated, and that was Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. It was branded a shocking snub, especially in a year that was one nomination away from another #oscarssowhite, but the Academy has always been conservative in many ways.

That Hustlers was a movie about a group of strippers who drugged and robbed their banker clients in the fallout of the GFC was never going to get much love from a voting body that looks away from films with high sexual content, or what they would deem smutty.

Laura Dern has been cleaning up in this category all over awards season and it would be a shock if anyone else walked up onstage come the ceremony.

Johansson is the most likely spoiler for a role that was tonally hard to pull off while Pugh’s performance redeemed and breathed understanding into a character that has been hated for a century and a half.

Will win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Should win: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Could win: Scarlett Johansson, Jojo Rabbit


Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood
Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes
Al Pacino, The Irishman
Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Brad Pitt is in line for his first acting Oscar

Brad Pitt is in line for his first acting OscarSource:News Regional Media

At 56 years old, Brad Pitt is the youngest nominee in this category and the only one without a previous Oscar win. Many feel it’s his time – and he has endeared himself to the industry not just as an actor with three decades of work but as a prolific producer of successful films too.

Pitt has been an absolute charmer on the circuit for his role as the effortlessly cool stuntman Cliff Booth, and he has been nailing his red carpet game and acceptance speeches – whoever is writing his speeches and jokes deserves a bumper bonus.

Pesci is seen as the only real competition against Pitt but the notoriously private Pesci hasn’t been campaigning, in fact he hasn’t even shown up to other awards ceremonies and there’s no real expectation that he will to the Oscars itself.

Will win: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Should win: Joe Pesci, The Irishman
Could win: Joe Pesci, The Irishman


Rian Johnson, Knives Out
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, 1917
Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won, Parasite

Bong Joon-ho won the WGA and BAFTA for his Parasite screenplay (Photo by Jean-Baptiste Lacroix / AFP)

Bong Joon-ho won the WGA and BAFTA for his Parasite screenplay (Photo by Jean-Baptiste Lacroix / AFP)Source:AFP

After consecutive successes at the Writers Guild Awards and BAFTAs in the same category, Parasite is the favourite to win here, although Tarantino wasn’t eligible at the WGAs and he’s an Oscar favourite in this category with an awards body that has always been more ready to recognise the rebel filmmaker for writing more than directing.

Baumbach’s screenplay is more dialogue-driven and is perfectly structured but Marriage Story has lost most of its momentum outside of Laura Dern’s performance.

Johnson’s Knives Out is a fun, cleverly plotted whodunit and a box office hit but has no other nominations this year.

Will win: Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won, Parasite
Should win: Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Could win: Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


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

Kiwi triple threat Taika Waititi is frontrunner to win Adapted Screenplay for his Hitler comedy Jojo Rabbit

Kiwi triple threat Taika Waititi is frontrunner to win Adapted Screenplay for his Hitler comedy Jojo RabbitSource:Supplied

Little Women‘s Gerwig’s snubbing in the nominations for Directing could drive support her way in Adapted Screenplay, especially since she restructured Louisa May Alcott’s book in a way that conveyed more emotional resonance.

And Zaillian’s screenplay for The Irishman was seen as the Netflix film’s best chance at picking up an award from its 10 nominations though it’s looking increasingly likely that it will walk away empty-handed.

Waititi has won both the WGA and BAFTA in the adapted screenplay categories, and the big-hearted if uneven Jojo Rabbit won the audience award at TIFF so there’s a lot of goodwill towards the film, which all adds up to the Kiwi filmmaker as favourite here.

Will win: Taika Waititi, Jojo Rabbit
Should win: Greta Gerwig, Little Women
Could win: Greta Gerwig, Little Women


Rodrigo Prieto, The Irishman
Lawrence Sher, Joker
Jarin Blaschke, The Lighthouse
Roger Deakins, 1917
Robert Richardson, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

1917 is the definite favourite to win the Cinematography Oscar

1917 is the definite favourite to win the Cinematography OscarSource:AP

Until two years ago when English lenser Deakins finally broke his Oscar losing streak (13 nominations and no win) with Blade Runner 2049, it was the stuff of legend. Now, when it rains, it pours.

Deakins is the favourite for 1917, a beautifully shot war film made to look like it was done in a single shot, and whose night sequence in a war-torn French town was lit with such luminosity.

If anyone is going to spoil Deakins’ party, it’ll be Richardson for his work on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

Will win: Roger Deakins, 1917
Should win: Roger Deakins, 1917
Could win: Robert Richardson, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood


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

Netflix movie Klaus is a Santa origin story

Netflix movie Klaus is a Santa origin storySource:News Regional Media

For years, Disney dominated this category but last year the Oscar went to Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse over Incredibles 2 and Ralph Breaks the Internet, which emboldened other studios to really put some heft behind their animated features.

Toy Story 4 is evening out against Klaus, a traditionally animated Netflix Christmas movie which won big at the Annie Awards and the BAFTA, while the Golden Globes awarded the stop-motion animation Missing Link.

Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World really deserves a look in because that final film in the trilogy was emotional, smart and featured some incredible animation in the dragon cave.

Will win: Klaus
Should win: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Could win: Toy Story 4


Corpus Christi, Poland
Honeyland, North Macedonia
Les Miserables, France
Pain and Glory, Spain
Parasite, South Korea

Parasite is South Korea's first nomination in this category

Parasite is South Korea’s first nomination in this categorySource:Supplied

Parasite looks like a lock here given its six overall nominations and, you know, its all-round awesomeness. In an ideal world, Parasite would win the Picture and Directing categories and free up International Feature for Pedro Almodovar’s Pain and Glory, a nuanced and personal work featuring a phenomenal Antonio Banderas as the director’s stand-in character.

Honeyland is also a strong contender and has another nomination in Documentary Feature.

Will win: Parasite
Should win: Parasite
Could win: Pain and Glory

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: The Obamas-produced American Factory is expected to prevail here, but it has competition in For Sama, a documentary made from footage smuggled out of Syria.

SCORE: Hildur Guonadottir’s moody Joker score is the favourite here (she’s won all the precursor awards) with well-regarded composers Thomas Howard Newman for 1917 and Alexandre Desplat for Little Women seen as potentials.

MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING: Bombshell’s prosthetic work to turn Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly and John Lithgow into Roger Ailes is expected to win here. Joker is second favourite.

FILM EDITING: Ford v Ferrari’s racing sequences should see James Mangold’s film starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale win this category. If Parasite wins here, it could be early signs of a South Korean sweep.

COSTUME DESIGN: Jacqueline Durran is expected to win Little Women’s only Oscar in Costume, work which saw her subtly layer character work such as Jo and Laurie swapping clothes to highlight their close bond and gender fluidity.

Costume Design may be the only Oscar Little Women wins

Costume Design may be the only Oscar Little Women winsSource:Supplied

ORIGINAL SONG: Elton John and Bernie Taupin are the frontrunners here for their new song in Rocketman, a movie that depicted their friendship and collaboration over the years.

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the favourite here with Barbara Ling’s recreation of 1969 Hollywood.

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