Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story, Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers, Margot Robbie in Bombshell… Some of Hollywood’s biggest names are favourites to win awards at cinema’s night of nights. We break down their chances.
Could this year’s Best Supporting Actress winner have clinched the award with a pole-dance routine?
Maybe. If, on 9 February 2020, you see Jennifer Lopez up on that Oscars’ podium, hoisting her little gold statuette aloft, you’ll know that it all came down to a pair of eight inch Perspex heels and a dance routine choreographed to Fiona Apple’s Criminal. This is how Lopez makes her grand entrance in Lorene Scafaria’s Hustlers, one of the most-talked about film scenes of the year. If she wins Best Supporting Actress – which some Oscar pundits are saying she will – then you’ll know it was because that pole-dance routine.
She has competition though: Best Supporting Actress is shaping up to be one of the most competitive races at this year’s Oscars. Actually, both of the female acting categories are stacked with major contenders, all of whom will be vying for nominations. (And the men? Well, we’ll get to them.) From Lupita Nyong’o in Us to Scarlett Johansson and Laura Dern in Marriage Story to the three ladies of Bombshell – Charlize Theron, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman – there is some serious Hollywood star power in this year’s Oscars race.
Here are some early Academy Awards predictions…
We’re calling it: 2020 is the year of the Best Actress category. There at least six women with very strong claims to one of the five nomination spots, and at least three others who could sneak in. Right now, Renee Zellweger is looking like the frontrunner, courtesy of her indelible performance as Judy Garland in the last six months of her life in Judy.
But Theron had a transformation, too, to play controversial news anchor Megyn Kelly in Bombshell. Hot on both of their heels are Scarlett Johansson with a career-best performance in Netflix’s Marriage Story, as well as Saoirse Ronan as trailblazing Jo March in Little Women and Awkwafina’s quiet and reserved presence in The Farewell. Right now, it feels like Zellweger’s to lose, but we’re still four months out from the ceremony yet.
Renee Zellweger – Judy
Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story
Saoirse Ronan – Little Women
Awkwafina – The Farewell
Charlize Theron – Bombshell
Could sneak in:
Lupita Nyong’o – Us
Alfre Woodard – Clemency
Cynthia Erivo – Harriet
Florence Pugh – Midsommar
Best Supporting Actress
Two scenes, two very different supporting characters, two contenders. This category is really between Lopez, whose Hustlers turn was a study in crafting a sympathetic anti-hero, and Laura Dern in Marriage Story. As Nora, a glossy Los Angeles lawyer drafted in by Scarlett Johansson’s Nicole to help her with her divorce, Dern is power, strength and elegance in one Roland Mouret Galaxy Dress-wearing package. Her one blistering monologue, ripping into the great myth of the ‘perfect dad’, will be taught in acting schools some day.
Also playing are Margot Robbie as a young journalist in Bombshell and Florence Pugh, whose Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is getting rave reviews, and we’d be thrilled to see Shuzhen Zhou, who broke everyone’s hearts as the cancer-stricken Nai Nai in The Farewell grab a nomination. But this one really is between Lopez and Dern. Game on.
Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers
Laura Dern – Marriage Story
Margot Robbie – Bombshell
Florence Pugh – Little Women
Could sneak in:
Shuzhen Zhou – The Farewell
Annette Bening – The Report
Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey
Scarlett Johansson – Jojo Rabbit
It’s the biggest prize in cinema, and the highest award on offer at the Oscars. So who is going to win? There are a couple of big hitters this year: a sprawling new drama from Martin Scorsese, a sprawling new drama from Quentin Tarantino, a sprawling new drama from Sam Mendes… But what about the shocking South Korean critical hit Parasite, which has wowed audiences at every film festival it has screened at and continues to grow momentum? Could 2020 be the year a foreign film wins Best Picture?
Maybe. Or maybe it’s the year of Marriage Story, an unflinching and heartbreaking examination of what happens when a marriage falls apart, a Netflix movie with some of the best acting performances of the year. Or maybe it’s Greta Gerwig’s year, if you believe the glowing early reviews for her adaptation of Little Women. (And they really are glowing. One critic called it “genuinely thrilling”.) Or maybe it’s none of those things and Joker is going to do what it did at the Venice Film Festival and win everything?
Parasite – Bong Joon-ho
The Irishman – Martin Scorsese
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino
Marriage Story – Noah Baumbach
Little Women – Greta Gerwig
Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi
Bombshell – Jay Roach
Joker – Todd Phillips
Could sneak in:
1917 – Sam Mendes
A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood – Marielle Heller
The Two Popes – Fernando Meirelles
Ford v Ferrari – James Mangold
The Farewell – Lulu Wang
Waves – Trey Edward Shults
Last year, the Oscars disappointed with an all-male directing nomination lineup that was in no way reflective of how many fantastic female-helmed films had been released that year. Here’s hoping 2020 does not repeat that mistake. It shouldn’t, given the fact that there are at least four women who have made expertly crafted films in 2019, and who deserve that nomination. We’re talking about Greta Gerwig, a previous Oscar nominee in this category for Lady Bird, alongside Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood), Lulu Wang (The Farewell) and Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers).
Who are we kidding, though? Oscars gonna Oscar. So it will be probably be a lineup of dudes with Gerwig thrown in there as the most high profile of the female group. Expect Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese to get nominated. Fun fact: Tarantino has never won a Best Director Oscar, but his chances are spoiled somewhat by the buzz around Bong Joon-ho, the celebrated South Korean director whose film Parasite is a cinematic sensation.
Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Bong Joon-ho – Parasite
Greta Gerwig – Little Women
Could sneak in:
Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story
Sam Mendes – 1917
Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit
Marielle Heller – A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood
Lulu Wang – The Farewell
Lorene Scafaria – Hustlers
James Mangold – Ford v Ferrari
There is some serious star power in this category, from Joaquin Phoenix’s transformation in Joker and Phoenix’s Joker co-star Robert De Niro’s inscrutable hitman in The Irishman to Leonardo DiCaprio’s operative performance in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
But we’d like to stump for some of the quieter, less showy performances this year, like Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory and Adam Driver in Marriage Story. Driver is so good in that movie, so able to be both navel-gazy and winning, that you can see why Johansson’s character Nicole fell in love with him in the first place and why she has to divorce him, even though it’s breaking her heart.
Adam Driver – Marriage Story
Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Robert De Niro – The Irishman
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker
Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory
Could sneak in:
Eddie Murphy – Dolemite Is My Name
Adam Sandler – Uncut Gems
Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes
Christian Bale – Ford v Ferrari
Best Supporting Actor
Brad Pitt, Oscar winner. Come February 2020, this is probably something that we will be able to say about the man who has been charming cinema audiences for the better part of the last three decades. OK, he’s already got an Oscar. But it was for producing 12 Years A Slave. If he wins for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, essentially for making a bad man likeable by sheer virtue of him being Brad Pitt, then it will be an acting Oscar, and who doesn’t want Pitt to have one of those?
Counterpoint: Tom Hanks. Everyone’s movie dad has never been better in A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood, the tale of a cynical man’s friendship with Mr Rogers, one of America’s most iconic children’s show hosts. It’s the supporting role of the film but Hanks fills the movie with his warmth and wisdom, so much so that when he’s not onscreen you wonder where he’s gone. But there are other veterans in this category, too, like Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse) and Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy). Is it too stacked for relative newcomer Timothée Chalamet (Little Women) to sneak in?
Brad Pitt – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood
Joe Pesci – The Irishman
Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse
Jamie Foxx – Just Mercy
Could sneak in:
Alan Alda – Marriage Story
Al Pacino – The Irishman
Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes
Sterling K Brown – Waves
Timothée Chalamet – Little Women
Images: Lionsgate, Warner Bros, Sony, Fox, Netflix, Universal, Neon, Big Beach
Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.
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