While waiting for the 2020 Oscar nominations to be announced Monday, I decided to make a few predictions for the movies, actors and actresses to be nominated for the categories of best picture, best actor and best actress.

For people in the entertainment industry, Oscars are important because an Oscar win can positively influence their careers. The Academy Awards, which is the formal name of the Oscars, are an international recognition of excellence in the world of cinema carrying an elitist prestige, and they are given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a global organization of film artists (actors, writers, associates, etc.). 

To movie lovers like me outside of the industry, Oscars are just another reason to discuss a source of interest of ours and discover some good movies in the process. Predictions for the Oscar nominees and winners start weeks before the anticipated ceremony. 

I believe that correctly predicting some nominations or winners does not necessarily mean you have good knowledge of films and filmmaking. Instead, it probably means you know the movie industry well, or the way the Academy votes. Or you might have just been lucky. Either way, predicting the Oscar winners and nominations is fun, and frankly, you feel good if you end up being right. 

Best Picture

The movies I believe will for sure be nominated for best picture are Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood, Marriage Story and 1917. Parasite, The Irishman, Ford v Ferrari, Joker and Jojo Rabbit should follow next. If there are going to be ninth and tenth nominees, I believe it will be among The Two Popes, The Farewell or Little Women.

Films that win the best picture category in prestigious award ceremonies like the Golden Globes usually have good chances of getting the corresponding Oscar nomination. 1917 and Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood won best motion picture in “drama” and “musical or comedy,” respectively, at the Golden Globes. 

Taika Waititi's Jojo Rabbit won Toronto International Film Festival’s prominent People's Choice Award, previously awarded to Best Picture winners like The King's Speech, 12 Years a Slave and Green Book, while Todd Phillips' Joker won the Venice Film Festival's top honor, the Golden Lion, and broke a box office record, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time. 

Even though it was released in summer, Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood has still a lot of hype around its name. Also, how could Hollywood not nominate a Tarantino movie about the good old '60s Hollywood? On the other hand, while The Irishman had a lot of hype before its release, it gradually died out. Nevertheless, the Academy loves Martin Scorsese and his movies usually do get a best picture nomination. 

1917’s cinematography, directing and visual effects are outstanding from a filmmaking perspective, while Marriage Story’s moving performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver and its great screenplay from Noah Baumbach have earned nothing but praise. 

The South-Korean film Parasite is the 2019 movie with the most award wins so far (73, with Marriage Story following with 60), most of them being for best foreign language film. A few foreign language films have been nominated for best picture in the past, and I think Parasite will join them. 

Best Actor (in a leading role)

The actors I believe will be nominated for best actor for sure are Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Adam Driver (Marriage Story) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood). Then, I think Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) will complete the category, with Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari) and Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) as my chosen runners up.

Following a similar logic and considering actors’ nominations and wins in the award season so far, I can tell that all five of these actors have great chances of getting a best actor nomination. I’ve watched the performances of all of them apart from that of Antonio Banderas. The latter’s win of the corresponding award at the Cannes Film Festival, though, indicates an outstanding performance. 

As for the other four picks of mine, Driver hands-down gives an Oscar-worthy performance in Marriage Story, while Phoenix and Egerton also give career performances in Joker and Rocketman, respectively; performances that helped them win best actor in a motion picture - drama and musical or comedy respectively, at the Golden Globes. Di Caprio’s performance in Once Upon A Time... in Hollywood has been a critic favorite, although not mine personally, while Di Caprio is also one of the Academy’s favorites, so that’ll do for a best actor nomination.

Best Actress (in a leading role)

The two actresses I believe will be nominated for sure are Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) and Renée Zellweger (Judy). Then, I think Awkwafina (The Farewell), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) and Charlize Theron (Bombshell) will complete the category, with Lupita Nyong'o (Us) and Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) as my chosen runners up.

In Judy, Renée Zellweger stars as Hollywood icon Judy Garland, an Academy favorite herself who had received two Oscar nominations in her career. So, how can the Academy pass up an actress giving a career performance as an icon of the Hollywood movie industry? 

Zellweger’s performance in Judy and Awkwafina’s in The Farewell helped them win the best actress in a motion picture - drama and musical or comedy, respectively, at the Golden Globes and increased the Oscar buzz around their names, especially for Awkwafina, who was considered an outsider until recently.

Regarding Scarlett Johansson’s performance in Marriage Story, I have no words for it and it has been rightly praised by critics and the public. 2019 was a great year for Johansson’s career and I think her first Oscar nomination is around the corner. 

Considering Saoirse Ronan’s and Charlize Theron’s nominations for the rest of the award season so far, I think they have great chances of getting best actress nominations.

The Oscars, just like Hollywood, have still a lot of room for growth in terms of inclusivity and greater representation of film artists and movies from more diverse backgrounds. Nevertheless, more often than not, watching the Oscars can expose you to some great films and performances. 

The 92nd Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. EST. The Oscars will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Contact contributor Myrsini Manou-Georgila at myrsini.manougeorgila@richmond.edu.