2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

John Boone‍
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2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

From 'The Irishman' to '1917' and all the wild cards in between.

It's nearly time to meet the Oscars class of 2020. This year's Academy Awards caps off an abbreviated awards season -- the show will air on Feb. 9, weeks earlier than usual -- and ET has been here the entire time, sussing out Oscar fortunes. On Jan. 13, the Academy will announce their nominations, but before then, take one final look at our predictions for the films in the running for Best Picture.

What do awards season's early shows tell us about the Oscars? Well, everything and nothing. But with each wave of nominations that roll in -- various guilds and critics groups and the Golden Globes -- the race for the Academy's top prize begins to take shape. And still, presuming anyone can foretell exactly what the Academy is thinking is a fool's errand.

So, what do we know? Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood appear to be all-but-sure things. Jojo Rabbit, Parasite and 1917 are the next best bets. Which leaves (up to) four slots to be filled by any number of films. (If the Academy nominates 10 films, that is. Since 2011, when the rules were revised, it has happened exactly zero times.) 

THE PREDICTIONS

Our Final Picks:

1917
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite

The Challengers:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Bombshell
Dolemite Is My Name
The Farewell
Ford v Ferrari

Hustlers
Knives Out
Pain and Glory
Richard Jewell

Rocketman
The Two Popes
Uncut Gems

Also check out: Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor

THE SCORECARD

Image via Universal Pictures

1917

Why It Will Get In: Sam Mendes' WWI opus is a technical feat -- it's made to look like a single take -- that won't just clean up in the crafts categories but propel itself into the Best Picture race, as Saving Private Ryan and Dunkirk did before it.

Why It Won't: It feels less and less likely that 1917 would be blanked here, but it may or may not be worth noting that Mendes hasn't directed a Best Picture nominee since American Beauty in 2000.

The Cast: George MacKay, Dean-Charles Chapman, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott, Richard Madden, Claire Duburcq, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
BAFTA Awards - Best Film (Nominee)
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Drama (Winner)
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Sony Pictures

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Why It Will Get In: America's most beloved actor (Tom Hanks) playing America's most beloved children's television host (Fred Rogers) is guaranteed to pull heartstrings; plus, Marielle Heller is overdue.

Why It Won't: Though A Beautiful Day has been well-received, it's worth noting the 2018 Mister Rogers documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, unexpectedly missed with the Academy.

The Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper

Awards season scorecard:

 

Image via Lionsgate Movies

Bombshell

Why It Will Get In: Between the critically-lauded performances from its three leads, the transformative makeup work and a script by the Oscar-winning writer of The Big Short (Charles Randolph), Bombshell makes a solid case for itself as the Vice of this race.

Why It Won't: Whether the film lands the moral complexity of telling a timely story about objectionable Fox News ilk like Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson who did something good and right will vary from viewer to viewer.

The Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Kate McKinnon, Connie Britton, Malcolm McDowell and Allison Janney

Awards season scorecard:

SAG Awards - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Netflix

Dolemite Is My Name

Why It Will Get In: The Oscars love a comeback narrative, and Dolemite is that twofold: It tells the comeback story of Blaxploitation phenomenon Rudy Ray Moore by way of a comeback performance from Eddie Murphy.

Why It Won't: Though the Academy and Netflix's relationship is improving, Dolemite feels like the weakest of the streamer's candidates here and, thus, may have to resign itself to the Best Actor race.

The Cast: Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, Tituss Burgess, Da'Vine Joy Randolph and Wesley Snipes

Awards season scorecard:

Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)

Image via A24

The Farewell

Why It Will Get In: Every year, there is one Sundance favorite that is fervently championed into the Oscars race. This year it's Lulu Wang's semi-autobiographical, The Farewell, which has strong support from critics, but--

Why It Won't: Does The Farewell have the legs? It's distributor A24's best bet this year, so it will have the weight of their support, but will it manage to break beyond the Indie Spirit Awards?

The Cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen, Lu Hong and Jiang Yongbo

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
Film Independent Spirit Awards - Best Feature (Nominee)
Gotham Awards - Best Feature (Nominee)

Image via 20th Century Fox

Ford v Ferrari

Why It Will Get In: James Mangold's race car period drama is more than just the Dad Movie of the Year. Its technical achievements will serve it well in the crafts categories and its mainstream success and dual Best Actor-contending performances could accelerate it into one of the final slots.

Why It Won't: Mangold's films have a track record of collecting nominations in acting and below-the-line races, but ultimately missing out on Best Picture. (For his part, his sole nomination was Logan's history-making screenwriting nod.)

The Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone and Ray McKinnon

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via STX Entertainment

Hustlers

Why It Will Get In: Hustlers is being bandied about as an "unconventional Best Picture choice," but what writer-director Lorene Scafaria crafted is as worthy of prestige accolades as similarly-minded films such as The Big Short and most of Martin Scorsese's filmography.

Why It Won't: The main narrative surrounding Hustlers is Jennifer Lopez, who is receiving career-best raves for her performance. The film will most likely be represented in the Best Supporting Actress race.

The Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo and Cardi B

Awards season scorecard:

Gotham Awards - Best Feature (Nominee)

Image via Netflix

The Irishman

Why It Will Get In: Martin Scorsese, whose Oscars track record boasts eight Best Picture nominees, including his last Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci-starring mob saga, Goodfellas.

Why It Won't: There's no question that The Irishman will be nominated. The question is whether the Netflix of it all will come between The Irishman and a Best Picture win.

The Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale and Anna Paquin

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
BAFTA Awards - Best Film (Nominee)
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards - Best Picture (Runner-up)
National Board of Review - Best Film (Winner)
New York Film Critics Circle - Best Picture (Winner)
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)
SAG Awards - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Fox Searchlight

Jojo Rabbit

Why It Will Get In: Taika Waititi's World War II dramedy won TIFF's prescient People's Choice Award, previously awarded to Best Picture winners like The King's Speech, 12 Years a Slave and Green Book.

Why It Won't: A WWII dramedy can be a tough sell, and some critics feel the movie's message is too simplistic and its satirizing of Hitler (played as a young boy's imaginary friend by Waititi) never lands its punch.

The Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Scarlett Johansson, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen and Sam Rockwell

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)
SAG Awards - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Nominee)
Toronto International Film Festival - People's Choice Award (Winner)

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Joker

Why It Will Get In: That Todd Phillips' origin story for DC's most famous supervillain premiered at the Venice Film Festival was in itself a big deal. Then it won the festival's top honor, the Golden Lion, and went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time 

Why It Won't: Only one superhero movie has even been nominated for Best Picture (Black Panther); and though the controversy over this film's messaging and its potential to incite violence proved to be for naught, the question remains: "Does Joker actually have anything to say?"

The Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham and Marc Maron

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
BAFTA Awards - Best Film (Nominee)
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)
Venice Film Festival - Golden Lion (Winner)

Image via Lionsgate Movies

Knives Out

Why It Will Get In: Writer-director Rian Johnson's Agatha Christie-inspired whodunit is the dark horse of this race, a critically-lauded, populist hit with a cast stacked with Oscar-minted stars.

Why It Won't: "But is it an Oscars movie?" pundits will second guess themselves. For what it's worth, there is precedent here: The original Murder on the Orient Express was nominated for six Oscars. 

The Cast: Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, Riki Lindhome, Edi Patterson and Christopher Plummer

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Sony Pictures Entertainment

Little Women

Why It Will Get In: You would run out of fingers and toes counting the collective Oscar nominations of Greta Gerwig and her cast, and adaptations of the Louisa May Alcott classic have proven fruitful in the past: The 1933 Little Women was a Best Picture nominee, while the '94 take earned three nominations of its own.

Why It Won't: In a year with so many options, will the Academy favor an original idea over a remake? That might explain why Little Women has missed out on many key precursorawards.

The Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
National Society of Film Critics - Best Picture (Runner-up)
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Netflix

Marriage Story

Why It Will Get In: Noah Baumbach, who has a single Oscar nomination to his name, is due, and with its knotty family dynamics, wordy monologues and a sprinkle of slapstick charm, Marriage Story is his magnum opus.

Why It Won't: It will. Adam Driver and Laura Dern are frontrunners in their respective acting categories and Baumbach is leading the pack in Original Screenplay (where he earned his previous Oscar nomination), which makes it nearly impossible to be passed over for Best Picture.

The Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Film Independent Spirit Awards - Best Feature (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)
Gotham Awards - Best Feature (Winner)
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Sony Pictures Entertainment

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Why It Will Get In: The Academy loves nothing more than movies about show business, and perhaps no director loves making showbiz movies more than Quentin Tarantino. The Hollywood of it all aside, there's no way voters could resist this caliber of performance from Oscar darlings Pitt and DiCaprio.

Why It Won't: Tarantino's track record with the Academy has been solid enough in recent years that they will give him the nomination. The question is, will Once Upon a Time finally earn him that long-elusive Best Picture win?

The Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Kurt Russell, Timothy Olyphant, Dakota Fanning, Margaret Qualley and Al Pacino

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
BAFTA Awards - Best Film (Nominee)
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Winner)
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019
National Society of Film Critics - Best Picture (Runner-up)
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)
SAG Awards - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Sony Pictures Classics

Pain and Glory

Why It Will Get In: Pedro Almodóvar's introspective film about an aging Spanish director might not have won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, but it launched Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas into the Best Director and Best Actor races, which can often a Best Picture nominee make.

Why It Won't: As far as the foreign language films breaking into Best Picture go, Pain and Glory seems to be playing second fiddle to Parasite (below) and faces many of the same hurdles. Its prospects may end at Best International Feature Film.

The Cast: Antonio Banderas, Asier Etxeandia, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Nora Navas, Julieta Serrano and Penélope Cruz

Awards season scorecard:

 

Image via NEON

Parasite

Why It Will Get In: Bong Joon-ho's parable of haves and have nots not only thrived on the festival circuit -- taking home the Palme d'Or at Cannes -- but instantly won over audiences when it arrived stateside.

Why It Won't: South Korea has never been nominated in the Academy's newly-rebranded International Feature Film field. And throughout Oscars history, only 10 foreign-language films have been nominated for Best Picture.

The Cast: Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Cho Yeo Jeong, Choi Woo Shik and Park So Dam

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Special Award (Winner)
BAFTA Awards - Best Film (Nominee)
Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or (Winner)
Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards - Best Picture (Winner)
National Society of Film Critics - Best Picture (Winner)
Producers Guild Awards - Best Theatrical Motion Picture (Nominee)
SAG Awards - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (Nominee)

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Richard Jewell

Why It Will Get In: Clint Eastwood's films tend to hit or miss with the Academy, but look at a recent Best Picture inductee like American Sniper and the two share some DNA: Eastwood telling the true story of a struggling American hero.

Why It Won't: Since American Sniper, Sully, The 15:17 to Paris and The Mule have all missed. That the film is embroiled in controversy over its depiction of Olivia Wilde's character isn't helping matters.

The Cast: Paul Walter Hauser, Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde

Awards season scorecard:

AFI Awards - Top 10 Films of 2019
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019

Image via Paramount Pictures

Rocketman

Why It Will Get In: Director Dexter Fletcher was the unsung hero that got Bohemian Rhapsody into the Best Picture race, and he's even bolder and more inventive with his Elton John extravaganza; plus, Taron Egerton is proving irresistible while out stumping for the movie.

Why It Won't: Will Academy voters assume (however reductive it may be) that they already awarded this sort of musical biopic in 2019 when they gave the Oscar to Rami Malek?

The Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden and Bryce Dallas Howard

Awards season scorecard:

Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy (Nominee)

Image via Netflix

The Two Popes

Why It Will Get In: The papal two-hander boasts two very strong performances from its leads (one of whom is an Academy Award winner) and the type of word-of-mouth crowd-pleaser that is sure to pick up love once it drops on Netflix.

Why It Won't: The Netflix of it all. This year's Best Picture race is crowded enough that the Academy may vote in the indisputable nominees like The Irishman and Marriage Story but cut the streamer off before The Two Popes.

The Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins and Juan Minujín

Awards season scorecard:

Golden Globes - Best Motion Picture, Drama (Nominee)

Image via A24

Uncut Gems

Why It Will Get In: Much has been made of Adam Sandler's performance -- and it is absolutely the sort of transformative, comedian-going-serious turn the Academy takes to -- but the movie has earned its own praise, at least with critics.

Why It Won't: The Safdie Brothers' films are something of an acquired taste that may brush up against the sensibilities of the Academy's old and new guard.

The Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin Garnett, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Julia Fox and Eric Bogosian

Awards season scorecard:

Critics Choice Awards - Best Picture (Nominee)
Film Independent Spirit Awards - Best Feature (Nominee)
Gotham Awards - Best Feature (Nominee)
National Board of Review - Top 10 Films of 2019

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