The Road to the 92nd Oscars, Part III: Final Predictions

Welcome, Awardsocados, to the final installment of the Road to the 92nd Oscars! If you’re getting excited to tune into ABC Sunday night (starting at 8 PM ET, natch) to see who walks away with the gold, you’ve come to the right place. I say this as if I didn’t only go 12/24 last year, but what is awards prognostication without a little bit of overconfidence? (And hey, I did go 20/24 two years ago!)


What started out as a fairly competitive season now looks like one of the most predictable Oscars in recent memory. A couple of months ago it seemed like any of The Irishman, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Parasite could walk away with the top two prizes (Best Picture and Best Director). The various critics awards came and went, showing a surprising lack of support for The Irishman and Marriage Story, outside of Joe Pesci in the former and Laura Dern in the latter, leaving us with two films really in the running . Then 1917 premiered. Buzz has been scorching hot for Sam Mendes’s one-shot World War I drama since the beginning of December, and that has been borne out in a pile of major guild wins and the top two awards at the Golden Globes and BAFTA (plus a Best Director tie at the Critics Choice Awards). All of this late-breaking success came at the expense of the Tarantino, that now seems set to snag only a Supporting Actor win for Brad Pitt, with a shot at a couple of others (Original Screenplay and Production Design). What of Joe Pesci, you say? In spite of strong critical support, I am not predicting a Pesci win. In fact, I expect The Irishman to become the most-nominated film to go home with no wins, at 10.

Stellar reviews and box office made it look like Little Women could have an outside shot, but classic Hollywood sexism has proven to be alive and well, leaving this one set for a Costume Design win and neck-and-neck with Jojo Rabbit for Adapted Screenplay, and that’s about it. Speaking of TIFF People’s Choice Award winner Jojo Rabbit, it seems likely to be a second-place finisher in Supporting Actress (Scarlett Johansson) and Costume Design; I’m ultimately predicting Taika Waititi’s latest to go home empty-handed, though with WGA and BAFTA wins it is the odds-on favorite for Adapted Screenplay. Consider my Little Women prediction in that category a mixture of being blinded by my love for the film and no guts no glory.

Joker is all but guaranteed wins for Best Actor Joaquin Phoenix and Best Original Score. In a bit of an ironic twist for this deeply problematic film, composer Hildur Gudnadóttir will become the first solo woman to win this award on Sunday night. Ford v. Ferrari was a surprise nominee in the Best Picture category, but does have some technical strengths. It is probably the frontrunner for Best Film Editing, a category that has been synonymous with “Most Film Editing” in recent years, and is running even with 1917 in both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. In spite of the Academy’s propensity to not being able to differentiate these two categories, I am expecting a split, with Ford v. Ferrari taking Sound Editing and 1917 Sound Mixing, a category that is very kind to war films.


Where does that leave us with Best Picture and Best Director? With wins from the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, and BAFTA under its belt, 1917 is the easy favorite in both categories, but Parasite is on solid ground as the first ever foreign language winner of the SAG for Best Ensemble and with wins from the Writers Guild, American Cinema Editors, and Art Directors Guild. Writers Guild makes Parasite the Original Screenplay favorite (though keep in mind that Once Upon a Time in Hollywood did not compete at WGA, and Tarantino already has two Original Screenplay Oscars under his belt), and the Best Picture winner has also won its respective screenplay category 14 times this century (Best Director, for comparison, has lined up 11 times).


There are some other worthwhile stats to consider in this conversation:

  • Parasite is nominated for Film Editing, unlike 1917. The last time a Best Picture winner wasn’t nominated for Film Editing was Birdman in 2014, but before that you have to go all the way back to Ordinary People in 1980. Of course, what do Birdman and 1917 have in common? The good ol’ “one-shot” gimmick. That said, point to Parasite.
  • Since the first Producers Guild award went to Driving Miss Daisy in 1989, 21 PGA winners have won Best Picture. An important exception is 2016, when La La Land won PGA but lost Best Picture to Moonlight; I bring that up because conventional wisdom has been that Parasite is performing like a stronger Moonlight. Regardless, point very much to 1917.
  • In the exact same time period, the Directors Guild has also matched Best Picture 21 times, though it has been less consistent in recent years, with Gravity, The Revenant, La La Land, and Roma missing. Again, a strong point for 1917.
  • BAFTA’s Best Film award is an amusing case: from 2000-2007, the BAFTA Best Film only matched Best Picture twice (Gladiator and Return of the King). Then BAFTA went on a winning streak, with six consecutive Best Film-Best Picture matches. Since 2014, though, BAFTA has come up empty, leading many to joke about the “BAFTA Best Film Curse.” Consider this one a point in favor of both 1917 and Parasite.
  • Neither 1917 nor Parasite earned any acting nominations, so either way we’re looking at the first Best Picture winner without an acting nom since Slumdog Millionaire (before that: The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, then Braveheart), then a handful of others going back to the first Best Picture winner, Wings back in 1928). As already mentioned, though, Parasite won the SAG for Best Ensemble, which has predicted Best Picture 11 times since it launched in 1995. Point Parasite, but it’s a weak correlation.

So who am I predicting in the end? Join me in the comments below for my final predictions in all 24 categories!