The nominations for the Oscars 2020 are due to be unveiled on Monday. The hundreds of movies released in the last 12 months will be whittled down to just the pick of the bunch — at least in the eyes of the 6,000 or so voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Then, on 9 February, the winners will be revealed.
There’s a maximum of 10 spaces available in the Best Picture category, though the Academy’s voting rules means that only eight or nine of those spots are usually used. It has been an uncommonly strong year for movies and there doesn’t really appear to be a clear frontrunner in the race, especially after a curveball of a night at the Golden Globes.
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But which movies are going to make the cut in the major categories? Well, it’s worth keeping an eye out for the Kiwi dressed as Adolf Hitler and the psychotic clown dancing down a staircase. Among other things, of course.
This is very much a game of two halves, with around half a dozen films definitely set for a nomination, and many more competing for the final handful of slots.
It won’t surprise anyone to know that two of modern cinema’s greatest voices — Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino — both have movies in contention, with both The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood guaranteed to appear on the shortlist. They will be joined by the Netflix divorce drama Marriage Story and Sam Mendes’ technically impressive war thriller 1917, which shocked everyone with its Golden Globes victories. There’s also no getting past the wide-ranging love for Joker and Bong Joon-ho’s ingenious class satire Parasite is a critics’ favourite with real momentum.
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Those are the dead certs, leaving a maximum of four slots for everyone else to fight it out. Taika Waititi’s divisive World War Two comedy Jojo Rabbit has been nominated by all four of the big guilds — groups dedicated to the various Hollywood jobs, including acting, directing, producing and writing — and so looks like it will be in the race. Elsewhere, it’s a straight-up battle, with Rian Johnson’s crowd-pleasing whodunnit Knives Out likely to nab a slot alongside Greta Gerwig’s warm adaptation of Little Women.
That could leave films like Le Mans ‘66 and The Farewell — despite star Awkwafina’s history-making Golden Globes win — out in the cold. There are also movies like Bombshell, Rocketman and The Two Popes which, while likely to be nominated for their acting, might be shut out of the big race.
Predicted Nominees: 1917, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Knives Out, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite
Four out of the five slots in this category can be considered sewn up. The aforementioned duo of Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino are guaranteed to appear, with Tarantino in with a serious shout of winning what would be, surprisingly, his first Oscar for directing rather than writing. Sam Mendes was the surprise Best Director winner at the Globes and 1917 is so technically impressive that his work cannot be denied, while the affection for Parasite will likely carry South Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho into the mix.
The final slot is something of a mystery. Noah Baumbach is a strong option given the heavyweight emotions of Marriage Story, while Taika Waititi earned the final slot in the Directors Guild of America nominations for Jojo Rabbit. The most likely contender for the place, though, would appear to be Todd Phillips who, with Joker, managed to unite critics, audiences and awards voters in appreciation for his bold, unusual comic book movie.
Predicted Nominees: Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
The male lead acting category is one of the strongest in years, with one-time winner Leonardo DiCaprio and Joaquin Phoenix definitely appearing, alongside Marriage Story’s Adam Driver. When you add that to Driver’s work in The Report and Star Wars, he has had a very impressive year.
As for the final two slots, there are a tonne of potential names in the mix, including Jonathan Pryce’s work as Pope Francis in The Two Popes, Taron Egerton’s Globe-winning take on Elton John in Rocketman, Adam Sandler’s career-best work in Uncut Gems, Eddie Murphy’s big comeback in Dolemite Is My Name and Antonio Banderas’ sensitive turn in Pain and Glory. And then there’s Robert De Niro in The Irishman, who is unbelievably being squeezed out. It’s a tough call.
Predicted Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)
Over on the women’s side, Renée Zellweger feels like the likely winner for her performance as Judy Garland. Scarlett Johansson will be there for Marriage Story, Saoirse Ronan can always be counted upon for a slot and Charlize Theron transformed herself into Megyn Kelly for #MeToo drama Bombshell.
The final slot could go to Lupita Nyong’o for Us or the brilliant Cynthia Erivo for Harriet, but the likely contender is Awkwafina, given her impressive victory at the Globes. The Farewell is a potent, heartfelt film and she’s terrific at the centre of it.
Predicted Nominees: Awkwafina (The Farewell), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renée Zellweger (Judy)
Best Supporting Actor/Actress
Again, this is a very strong category filled with very experienced names who are bona fide movie stars. The Irishman might miss out on Best Actor, but it’ll get two shots here with Al Pacino and Joe Pesci returning to their best for the film. Brad Pitt’s old school charisma in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the perfect casting of Tom Hanks as children’s telly legend Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood are equally likely to appear.
The final slot is more up for grabs, though it would be foolish to bet against former Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins for his curmudgeonly Pope Benedict XVI in The Two Popes. Just on the outside is Jamie Foxx as a wrongly condemned Death Row inmate in Just Mercy, as well as Taika Waititi for that performance as an imaginary friend version of Hitler.
Predicted Nominees: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Supporting Actress is an unusual category, which will hopefully avoid the all-white, all-blonde whitewash of the BAFTAs. Florence Pugh’s scene-stealing work in Little Women will get a nod, as will Laura Dern’s glamorous divorce lawyer in Marriage Story and Margot Robbie’s ambitious news producer in Bombshell. The Academy seems unlikely to repeat BAFTA’s mistake of snubbing Jennifer Lopez, who delivered the finest performance of her career in Hustlers.
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The final slot, however, is covered with question marks. Richard Jewell’s lack of love elsewhere might push out previous Oscar winner Kathy Bates and Scarlett Johansson could sneak in for her work as a German harbouring a Jewish teenager in Jojo Rabbit. There could also be double love for Bombshell in the shape of Nicole Kidman — who did get a SAG nod — and it would be wrong at this point to rule out a repeat of the BAFTA double nom for Robbie.
Predicted Nominees (Actress): Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Florence Pugh (Little Women), Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
Best Original Screenplay
This, traditionally, is the category in which the Oscars allow themselves to embrace the odd. Spike Jonze’s unusual romance Her won here before, as did Get Out and Juno, With that in mind, the Academy will likely see this category as a good opportunity to bestow some nomination love on the likes of The Farewell and Knives Out, especially if they are skipped over for Best Picture. The Writers Guild of America even found room to nominate the hilarious Booksmart, but it seems like a remote possibility when it comes to the Oscars.
The other three nominees will be pulled from the Best Picture shortlist in the shape of Marriage Story, Parasite and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Tarantino has won in this category twice before — for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained — and he won the Golden Globe award for Best Screenplay last week. It would be silly to put your money anywhere else.
Predicted Nominees: The Farewell, Knives Out, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite
Best Adapted Screenplay
Traditionally, this is the category where the weightier movies find themselves, adapted from great literary works or true stories ripped from non-fiction books and news articles. There’s some of that this year, with Little Women and likely winner The Irishman — penned by Schindler’s List Oscar winner Steven Zaillian. The Two Popes, too, fits into this category, though it’s adapted by Bohemian Rhapsody author Anthony McCarten from his own play.
The likes of Hustlers and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood are hovering around the edges of the category, but the two final slots seem primed for more unconventional works. First, Todd Phillips and Scott Silver’s unusually adult comic book adaptation for Joker will be recognised and the final slot seems almost certain to go to Taika Waititi, who sprinkled his own unique style over Christine Leunens’ novel Caging Skies for Jojo Rabbit.
Predicted Nominees: The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, The Two Popes
The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced on Monday, 13 January.