Predicting the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture is never easy. We were sure the top prize at the 2019 Oscars would go to “Roma” but it was “Green Book” that won. In coming up with our 2020 Oscar predictions, we considered a slew of factors, starting with the preferential ballot used to determine the winner. Add in the pedigree of the filmmakers, the critical reception to the films, the box office tally and the track record of the studios. We take all of these into consideration again as we look ahead to the 2020 Academy Awards.
Contenders began to emerge at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Others will be seen for the first time at the Cannes Film Festival in May. However, most of the top tier of Best Picture hopefuls won’t screen until September at four film festivals: Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York. And a few will be held back till the last weeks of eligibility, getting limited releases in December.
We predicted “Roma” to be a strong contender at the Academy Awards for Best Picture as it was the first film from Alfonso Cuaron after he won Best Director for “Gravity.” It dominated the critics awards and reaped a leading 10 Oscar nominations. The multi-hyphenate Cuaron won as director, cinematographer and producer of the Best Foreign Language Film of the year.
“Green Book” was named Best Picture despite its helmer, Peter Farrelly, being snubbed by the directors branch of the academy. He did share in the Original Screenplay win and Mahershala Ali took home his second Supporting Actor Oscar in three years for a scene-stealing turn as jazz musician Don Shirley.
“1917” (Universal – December 25)
Writer/Director: Sam Mendes
Cast: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay
Plot: Set against the backdrop of the last full year of World War I.
“Parasite” (Neon – October 11)
Director: Bong Joon-ho
Writers: Bong Joon-ho, Han Jin-won
Cast: Song Kang-ho, Lee Sun-kyun, Cho Yeo-jeong, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam
Plot: All unemployed, Ki-taek’s family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (Sony – July 26)
Writer/Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
Plot: A faded TV actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry in 1969.
“Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight – October 18)
Writer/Director: Taika Waititi (who adapted the novel “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens)
Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Waititi
Plot: A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
“Joker” (Warner Bros. – October 4)
Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy
Plot: A failed stand-up comedian is driven insane and becomes a psychopathic murderer.
“The Irishman” (Netflix – November 1; streams Nov. 27)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Steven Zaillian (who adapted “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt)
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin.
Plot: A mob hitman recalls his possible involvement with the slaying of Jimmy Hoffa.
“Little Women” (Sony – December 25)
Writer/Director: Greta Gerwig (who adapted Louisa May Alcott’s novel of the same name)
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet, Emily Watson, Meryl Streep
Plot: Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War.
“Marriage Story” (Netflix – November 6; streams December 6)
Writer/Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Plot: The story follows an unfolding divorce that spans from New York City to Los Angeles.
“Ford v. Ferrari” (20th Century Fox – November 15)
Director: James Mangold
Writers: James Mangold, Jason Keller, Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth
Cast: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Remo Girone
Plot: The true story of the battle between Ford and Ferrari to win Le Mans in 1966.
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The 92st Academy Awards will once again be held at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live on ABC, Sunday February 9th, 2020 8e|5p.
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