Picks for the 2020 Oscars

Brian Foisy, Editor in Chief

Awards shows are meaningless. They serve no real purpose besides self-congratulation and self-promotion. They’re incredibly inaccurate, rarely serving as any consensus for what was a meaningful accomplishment in the field in which they award. Their choices are used as reference points for the accomplishments of creative people but they highlight the meaningless ones and cast aside the impactful ones. The Oscars, Grammys, Emmys, and Golden Globes rarely ever get it right, but still, year after year, we tune in and act as if they serve as a measurement of quality. Evaluating creativity, however,  is a difficult task and when someone claims to have a dogmatic answer to what is good and what isn’t, we look to it as a north star and dignify it as important. 

The Oscars choose their winners not by who was good and who was bad but instead by who’s spent the most money getting their films to Oscar voters. Big studios will spend millions to get their films, actors, directors, screenwriters, or even costume designers in front of Oscar voters. This deep campaigning has, in a way, blinded the average Oscar voter who obviously can’t watch every film made this year. When they’re gifted DVD copies of a film, they’re more inclined to watch it and more inclined to vote for it. If an Oscar voter rubs elbows with Brad Pitt at a party put on by the studio, he or she is more inclined to nominate Brad Pitt for an award. All of these studio tactics have led to Oscar winners that are increasingly not representative of actual quality but instead an indicator of the amount of money their studio spent to make it. 

However, speaking honestly, with the exception of a few films, like Joker, that shouldn’t even have come close to an Oscar, most films nominated this year are pretty good. There have been some obvious snubs along the way, Uncut Gems and Hustlers to name a few, but the nominees chosen are largely representative of quality. But if Joaquin Phoenix strolls onstage to accept his award for playing the Joker, you’ll know it’s because Warner Brothers spent the most money not that Joker is an amazing achievement. 

So without further adieu, here are my predictions for the winners of major categories at this year’s Academy Awards.

Best Picture

The top prize at the show will most likely go to the one-shot World War 1 epic, 1917. The film garnered no acting nominations which is literally unheard of. But the voters will pick this one because old white guys love war movies and because of it’s technical achievement. The entire two hours of this film is one continuous shot, meaning that the camera never stopped rolling. It’s a mind-blowing effect that, consequently, gives off the vibe of a video game, some critics don’t like that but the camera operators think its dope. The film won big at the Golden Globes and other award shows, a good indicator for Oscar voting. 1917 is the winner for Best Picture. 

Best Actress

When Marriage Story was released, I spent most of my review on this site talking about Adam Driver. Honestly, it was the better performance of the film and he should have won, but if I didn’t make it clear enough, Scarlett Johannson gave an incredible performance as well. Currently, most prognosticators are suggesting Renee Zellwegger will win for her performance as Judy Garland in Judy. This may very well happen, but I find it hard to wrap my head around given that literally no one saw Judy. This prediction is my biggest risk but I think Scarlett Johnansson will win Best Actress. 

Best Director

Bong Joon-Ho is a South Korean director behind one of the best films of the year, Parasite. Recent Oscars history shows precedence for an Oscars when the best film of the year is a foreign film but does not win Best Picture, instead winning Best Director. Just look to last year with Roma, where Alfonso Cuaron took home the Oscar for Best Director but the film lost Best Picture to Green Book. Parasite is being lauded as the best film of the year but with precedence in mind, look for Bong Joon-Ho and Parasite to just take away Best Director.

Best Actor

This is where the Oscar’s bread and butter is at, rewarding stupid BS like Joker. The film has the most nominations of the year, with 11. Joker is, for whatever reason, garnering praise and acceptance for no reason, even though it’s one of the worst things ever to be put on a screen. If Joaquin Phoenix wins this year, why not call Tom Hardy back up and give him the award for Venom, an equally repugnant atrocity. I don’t have to say if, because this is happening. Joaquin Phoenix already won at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. Joaquin Phoenix will win Best Actor, and I will be questioning my faith in humanity.

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern’s performance in Marriage Story was one of the anchors of the film. I already talked about it in my review of the film, but Dern plays a sharky lawyer who represents the id of Nicole’s feelings on the divorce. Dern has already won at the Golden Globes and at SAG. Laura Dern is the winner for Best Supporting Actress. 

Best Supporting Actor

In my book, Brad Pitt is a legend. He is famously known for remarking that he was a character actor trapped in a leading man’s body. In Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Pitt exudes his character actor chops while still staying in that leading man’s body (i.e. that scene on the rooftop –  I didn’t know someone could look like that). Brad Pitt has already won almost every other comparable award at SAG, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, etc — he’s a lock. Brad Pitt will be the winner of the Best Supporting Actor. 

Best Adapted Screenplay

This year, for the umpteenth time in a row, we saw the nominees for Best Director go by without a single woman nominated. In spite of excellent outings from Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Marielle Heller (Won’t You Be My Neighbor), and — the focus of this paragraph — Greta Gerwig (Little Women). This has led to renewed controversy (which is one of the worst phrases in the current lexicon) surrounding appreciation of female directors and also the few women hired for directing roles. Some have even suggested that the Academy install a ‘Best Female Director’ category, this unique brand of patronizing and misplaced proactivity deserves an article in and of itself. 

One of the would-be female nominees for Best Director is Greta Gerwig, who also happened to write an excellent script for the film, Little Women, which she directed. The film also happens to be nominated in this category. Oscar voters may be voting for Gerwig as a consolation prize for not recognizing her achievement in directing, but the real reason she should win is because she has the best script in her category. Greta Gerwig will be the winner for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Best Original Screenplay

I saw Once Upon A Time In Hollywood twice in theaters this summer, both times in the film’s setting, Hollywood. The film goes a long way to capture the Hollywood of writer and director, Quentin Tarantino’s childhood. He meticulously recreated LA, and it’s most important industry, in his rose-tinted memory from the 1960s (maybe not so rose-tinted as the film centers around one of our country’s most notorious serial murderers). Much of this work is done in the script. While I felt, when I first saw it, and still partially do feel now, that the film should win every Oscar it’s nominated for, but I guess you can just award the script. Quentin Tarantino will win Best Original Screenplay. 

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Hopefully, these predictions hold up, but if not, I can always fall back on the sentiments I opened the article with, that the Oscars are meaningless and incorrect. Stay tuned for a reaction piece after the winners are announced on February 9th.