The Road to the 92nd Oscars, Part 2: Nominations Are Coming!

Hello Avocados, and welcome to another edition of The Road to the Oscars! Thanks to a shortened season this year – nominations are announced January 13, and the Oscars ceremony is February 9 – as well as your pal Mordor suffering an unfortunate and quite painful series of injuries, this article has been delayed and ultimately has become this year’s final nominations predictions. My own physical issues also mean that I may not be available to live-blog the nominations on Monday as I have the past two years, but I will be putting up a post for it and have every intention of trying to carry forward the tradition of stressing myself out trying to catch all the nominees.

Below you’ll find my latest thoughts on the race, and my final nomination predictions in all 24 categories will, as always, be organized in themed threads down in the comments section. Read ahead, and join me in the comments for what I’m sure will be a lively discussion!


Since we last checked in on the race for the 92nd Academy Awards, a lot has changed, but a lot more has stayed the same. Major and regional critics awards, plus the Golden Globes, BAFTA nominations, and all of the major guild nominations have made it clear that Best Picture (and, likely, Best Director) is a three-way race between The Irishman, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Parasite.

That the latter is in contention for not just these two awards but also a number of the craft categories is a surefire sign that Roma’s (and, for that matter, Cold War’s) strong showing last year was no fluke: the Academy is finally opening up more to foreign language films. What Parasite has that Roma did not is even more critics wins and guild nominations, including only the second ever SAG Best Ensemble nomination for a foreign language film. It is also assured several technical nominations, as well as an outside shot at Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor, a very outside shot at Supporting Actress, and a hilarious shot at Original Song. One place it won’t show up is Original Score, which is frankly one of the greatest injustices I have witnessed from the Academy’s oft-controversial shortlisting process in that category.

In this trio of films, the most surprising point of weakness among expected nominations would seem to be Robert De Niro’s performance in The Irishman. After a weak showing with the critics and snubs from both the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, De Niro has fallen from a clear third place finisher in the category (behind Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Driver) to being on the bubble in fifth. It’s a safe bet for two Supporting Actor nominations and is the Adapted Screenplay frontrunner. Expect this to pick up four or five technical nominations as well to cement Netflix’s new role as a major studio for Oscars nominations.

Quentin Tarantino’s latest seems to be beloved across the board. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are both certain nominees; heck, Margot Robbie managed a rare BAFTA double-nomination in Supporting Actress for her small role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood! The film was disqualified by the Writers Guild, since Tarantino is not a member, but it will certainly be in the Original Screenplay race here. Expect it to round out a number of the technical categories, and likely to lead the nominations totals.


Noah Baumbach’s heartbreaking divorce drama, Marriage Story, has seen its star fall mightily in the past several weeks. What initially seemed like it could be the first film in a long while to contend in every above-the-line category is now looking to be in a distant fifth place in the Best Picture race, with Baumbach on the bubble for a Best Director nomination. Leads Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson are guaranteed nominations and likely second place finishes in their respective categories, and Marriage Story remains the frontrunner for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern, who is phenomenal here but really should be winning for Little Women), but this one weakens by the day.

Jojo Rabbit is not enjoying the sort of run that Green Book had after its TIFF People’s Choice win last year (though recall that that Best Picture winner only scored a single win from major critics associations and didn’t peak until its upset with the Producers Guild), but after strong showings with SAG and the HFPA, it has solidified its place in the Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay races. A surprise nomination from the Directors Guild throws triple threat writer-director-supporting actor Taika Waititi back into a Best Director race that he had fallen out of, and Scarlett Johansson has been picking up nominations left and right, too, giving her an outside shot at a Supporting Actress nod.

Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson in Greta Gerwig's LITTLE WOMEN.

Further down the ticket, we run into a whopping four late December premieres that are proving to be a bit of a mixed bag: 1917, Bombshell, Little Women, and The Two Popes. On paper (and in actual, real-world quality), Little Women should be performing head and shoulders above the rest: it has some of the absolute best reviews of the year (a phenomenal 91 on Metacritic at time of writing, with more than 20 perfect 100 reviews), and writer-director Greta Gerwig and star Saoirse Ronan are beloved by the Academy. It’s burning up the box office around the world (in fact, on Tuesday it wrested the first place slot at the box office from Star Wars IX in the UK and Ireland), but for some reason (raise your hand if you know the reason), this feminist take on Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale didn’t catch on with the famously sexist HFPA or BAFTA, and late screeners may have hampered it with SAG. I continue to expect Little Women to be this year’s Phantom Thread, and think it will show up in a number of categories, including those of guilds that snubbed it in their own nominations, but it has a daunting hill to climb.

Bombshell performed remarkably well with SAG, earning four nominations across six categories, and like last year’s divisive Vice I anticipate an overperformance come Oscar noms morning for Jay Roach’s toothless Fox News sexual harassment scandal drama. Stars Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie seem to be set for nominations, Nicole Kidman finds herself unexpectedly in contention for a fairly small part, and a Best Picture nomination is not out of the question. Less likely is a breakthrough for the screenplay or any of the craft categories other than Makeup/Hairstyling.

1917 (2019)

Until this week, I would’ve said that Sam Mendes’s latest, 1917, was having mixed results. It was underperforming with the critics and guilds, but then on Sunday came the one-two punch of Best Director and Best Drama wins at the Golden Globes, and Tuesday brought nominations from the Producers and Directors Guilds, along with a whopping 9 nominations from BAFTA. Expect this one to appear up and down the ticket, with Picture, Director, and a whole bunch of craft nominations.

Meanwhile, the prospects of The Two Popes have confounded all season. I thought its overperformance in Golden Globes nominations was the beginning and end of its Oscars run, but then it came along and got a surprise five BAFTA nominations. Regardless, in packed acting categories, I don’t expect this one to walk away with anything other than an outside shot at an Adapted Screenplay nomination.

A pile of contenders that have had inconsistent performances with critics, guilds, HFPA, and BAFTA bring us home. I continue to be bullish on The Farewell, perhaps to my detriment; stars Awkwafina and Zhao Shuzhen are my choices for the bubble slots in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, and I think Original Screenplay and Picture nominations are a real likelihood. For those of you following along at home, you may have noticed that this one got snubbed by the Writers Guild; it wasn’t qualified, along with top contender Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.


A sole acting nomination – Best Supporting Actor Tom Hanks – and a likely Adapted Screenplay nomination – are the ceiling for Marielle Heller’s fantastic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. This film has been done a huge disservice by Sony, whose personality has been a bit split all season between this, the Tarantino, and Little Women. Ford v. Ferrari has also dropped off quite a bit: early on it seemed a likely contender for Best Picture and Best Actor nominations, and while it should still have a shot at both, it will likely have to settle for a few sound and editing nominations.

We end our journey through an Oscars race that has been of overall much higher quality than last year’s with the 92nd Oscars’ most controversial contender: Venice Golden Lion winner and 11-time BAFTA nominee Joker. Until this week, I was having a very hard time seeing this break into any categories other than Best Actor, Best Original Score, and maybe Best Adapted Screenplay, but great showings with minor critics associations, HFPA, and BAFTA have raised this star depressingly high. Expect it to show up in the Best Picture race and several craft categories. Director Todd Phillips, though, should be blissfully out of sight.

And with that, let’s continue down to the comments for How to Get Away with Mordor’s Final 92nd Oscars Nomination Predictions!