From evil clowns to imaginary dictators, 2019 was an interesting year for film. Since many of the wave-making major films have already made their rounds through festivals and theatres, it’s time to start making guesses on who’s going to be sweeping the 92nd Oscars.
Every time the Oscars roll around, many focus on their top few favourites that they saw in theatres and shrug off the rest as films they’ve never even heard of. Here’s a quick guide to some of the films that are most likely to find themselves winning the most coveted trophies at the Oscars.
Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is arguably one of the biggest films of the year, if only for all the names attached, director included. Not everyone believed it lived up to the hype, with some critics stating it wasn’t cohesive and lacked all the features that solidify a Tarantino movie as “a Tarantino movie” (although, yes, it met his feet quota). Regardless, reviews were generally favourable and it’d be a shock to not see nominations for Best Director or Best Picture. DiCaprio, Pitt and Robbie could all also potentially run away with acting nominations for this one. Once again, it’s the big names alone that make this one Oscar bait — the film basically campaigns itself.
In similar spirits, Scorcese’s The Irishman is a lock for name alone. The Irishman did not have a long festival run, but it doesn’t need one. The film’s world premiere only happened on September 27 at the New York Film Festival and will quickly be followed up with a limited theatrical release on November 1 and digital streaming via Netflix on November 27. This is another film that will definitely see nominations in many categories and certainly a number of wins. The Irishman’s universal acclaim spans just about every aspect of the film. This is a clear must-watch for the season.
Another film with a knockout cast and crew that seems to secure a nomination for itself is Little Women. Its wide release in December is just around the corner. As Greta Gerwig had a big year at the 90th Academy Awards with Lady Bird, audiences are expecting big things out of her take on Little Women. Already proven to be an unstoppable duo alongside Gerwig, Saoirse Ronan may see another Best Actress nomination.
Ronan is in good company, though, as awards could easily be snatched up by one of the other leads — new addition to the Marvel family and Midsommar powerhouse Florence Pugh portrays Amy March, with Sharp Objects’ devilish angel Eliza Scanlen as Beth. Laura Dern, Emma Watson and Meryl Streep all have roles in Little Women as well; it’s easy to imagine a number of the Marches being highlighted for Best Supporting Actress. Academy darling Timothée Chalamet, who plays Laurie, has been said to be a lock for Best Supporting Actor, but the same prediction was had last year about his powerful performance in Beautiful Boy — it’ll be interesting to see if he can finally claim the award many say he’s deserved since Call Me By Your Name.
Marriage Story’s phenomenal response says it may be up for some of the highest honours at the Oscars. Notably, many see Best Actor and Best Actress locks for Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson respectively. The comedy-drama has been picked up for a wide release by Netflix and is due on the streaming service on December 6. If Marriage Story can manage to secure a Best Picture nomination, it may follow in the footsteps of last year’s Roma, also a Netflix film.
South Korea’s submission for Best International Feature Film is also the current holder of the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival and one of the biggest honours of the film industry. This film is Parasite, which is one of my personal favourite films of the year and the rave reviews from critics and audiences alike say I’m not alone. Bong Joon-ho’s compelling dark comedy is a clear lock for Best International Feature Film — even without the overwhelming praise for this film, Parasite is like nothing else on the list.
From the man behind Okja and Snowpiercer, Parasite is a social satire showcasing discrepancies between the rich and the poor through a family of con artists whose newest target sends them down a strange rabbit hole. Although Parasite is the clear choice for Best International Feature Film, there’s a high possibility of nods for Best Picture and Best Director as well. If only there was an award for best peach scene since Call Me By Your Name so it could be a lock for that too.
Speaking of films that have been highly regarded in the festival circuit this year, Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit swept up the People’s Choice Awards at the Toronto International Film Festival. Runner-ups to the award were Marriage Story in first and Parasite in second, showing that Jojo Rabbit can clearly make a name for itself amongst even the biggest contenders.
Jojo Rabbit is a trip: it follows a German boy in the midst of the World War II, conflicted between his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), who is secretly anti-Nazi and hiding a Jewish girl in their attic, and his imaginary friend, who happens to be Adolf Hitler (Waititi). The black comedy divided critics, as the lead performances in the film have all received nothing but praise, but its portrayal of Nazis earned its fair share of both praise and criticism. The film is due for a limited release on October 18, where Waititi’s loyal fanbase can decide for themselves how they feel about it.
Also divisive is Joker, which was released this past week. Joker is not a superhero film — the updated look at the DC villain elicits more of a Taxi Driver vibe than anything else, which fans thought that, in tandem with Joaquin Phoenix’s lead performance, would earn it a Best Picture nomination. The mixed critical response and recent outcry of Joker potentially promoting harmful ideologies may harm the film in the Oscar race more than anything but regardless, it’s already starting to garner buzz. Phoenix, at the very least, may be seeing a nod for Best Actor. Todd Phillips’ name has been thrown around as a possibility for Best Director as well, something previously unexpected from the man responsible for The Hangover franchise. It will be interesting to see where Phillips’ career goes next, but even more so if Joker lands any of the biggest nominations.
The Farewell is another name that’s been tossed around in discussions of who could take home Best Picture, but if it’s a lock in any category, it has to be Best Actress. Awkwafina gave a very personal and authentic performance as the film’s lead character, Billi, proving she’s come a long way from her initial career as a comedy rapper. Compared to bigger names on the list of Best Actress potentials, Awkwafina feels like an underdog, but if the film is campaigned just right, her performance would be deserving.
While this is the most predictable of the films released this year, there’s also bound to be surprises thrown into the mix. 1917 and Ad Astra are names being thrown around as well and many die-hard fans are going to hope for nods to Avengers: Endgame or Jordan Peele’s Us. With the ceremony mere months away, there’s still time to watch the top contenders and decide for yourself which ones deserve the nominations.