Once upon a time … at the Oscars

Our movie guy predicts what will happen at the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards start at 5 p.m. on Feb. 9 on ABC. For more information, visit oscar.go.com.

No major preamble needed here. It’s Oscar time, so here are some thoughts on the whole establishment and my predictions. Let’s have at it.

Best Picture

Ford v Ferrari

The Irishman

Jojo Rabbit


Little Women

Marriage Story


Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood


Snubs: Completely ridiculous that Uncut Gems was ignored here. It was more deserving than most of the entries that made the cut.

That said, I did, at the very least, like every film on this list with the exception of Joker, one of the more overrated films in years. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is the year’s best film, and I can safely say I’ve watched it five times already, and I think I will watch it again because writing about it just now has given me a craving. This is a great movie, and it’s high time a Tarantino film took home a Best Pic statue.

This is a tough category to call. 1917, a deserving nominee, is gaining some momentum. There are many reasons the Academy could pick The Irishman here, and Little Women is much beloved after its late year release. Parasite is getting a lot of love. With all that, I still think this is Tarantino’s year.

Should and Will Win: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Best actor

Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory)

Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood)

Adam Driver (Marriage Story)

Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

Snubs: Two major snubs in this category: Eddie Murphy for Dolemite Is My Name and, fuck me, Adam Sandler for Uncut Gems. I, personally, would’ve dropped Phoenix and Pryce from this list and included Murphy and Sandler. Loved the Banderas performance, but would’ve put Robert Pattinson for The Lighthouse in his spot.

Please give this to DiCaprio. If not DiCaprio, please give it to Driver or Banderas. Knock it off with this Joker stuff already. Let’s not repeat last year’s bullshit when they gave Rami Malek the popularity award for lip-synching in Bohemian Rhapsody. This isn’t supposed to be a popularity contest. Phoenix was impressive, but DiCaprio’s is easily the best, most fully realized performance in this group.

Should Win: DiCaprio

Will Win: Phoenix

Best actress

Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)

Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)

Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)

Charlize Theron (Bombshell)

Renee Zellweger (Judy)

Snubs: I’m amazed—and flabbergasted—that Lupita Nyong’o got passed over for Us. I considered her one of the front runners for her dual role in Jordan Peele’s horror film. Speaking of horror, the Academy once again snubs an amazing performance in an Ari Aster movie. First, they forgot about Toni Collette in Hereditary, and now they ignore the wonderments of Florence Pugh’s work in Midsommar. Come on.

Of the nominated group—all good performances in good movies—Johansson is the standout. Holy hell, she and Adam Driver delivered the fireworks in their movie, and I think it would be nice if this were Scar Jo’s year. But I think this is going to Zellweger, who was mighty impressive—doing her own singing, too—as the late, great Judy Garland. I’ll be plenty happy to see her win. If there’s a dark horse candidate here, it’s Ronan for the very popular Little Women.

Should Win: Johansson

Will Win: Zellweger

Best supporting actor

Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)

Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes)

Al Pacino (The Irishman)

Joe Pesci (The Irishman)

Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood)

Snubbed: No Willem DaFoe for The Lighthouse! Shame on you, Oscar! Shame! This should’ve been a showdown between Pitt and DaFoe. I don’t want to even talk about this category anymore.

Should and Will Win: Pitt

Best supporting actress

Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell)

Laura Dern (Marriage Story)

Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)

Florence Pugh (Little Women)

Margot Robbie (Bombshell)

Snubbed: I know a lot of folks think Jennifer Lopez got snubbed here, but this is one time where I’m glad the Academy ignored the hype and left her out. She can be a good, even great, actress at times, but I didn’t care for Hustlers, and didn’t think her work was award-worthy. Robbie doesn’t belong here for Bombshell; she should’ve been nominated for Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood (where she speaks plenty of dialogue, thank you very much). I would’ve dropped Kathy Bates for Taylor Russell in Waves.

Laura Dern was my year-end pick in this category, and she’s going to win.

Should and Will Win: Dern

Best director

Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)

Todd Phillips (Joker)

Sam Mendes (1917)

Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood)

Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)

Snubs: So, there’s a lot of talk out there that Greta Gerwig was snubbed for Little Women, and that female directors were snubbed in general. I really liked what Gerwig did with Little Women, but I do think it ultimately didn’t come together as a masterpiece. (A lot of that had to do with the confusing time jump choice.) It was a little sloppy to my eye but, undoubtedly, a highly entertaining and original take on a classic.

As for other women directors, I can only speak here for my personal take on the year in film, and the first female director to show up on my Top 10 was Marielle Heller at number eight with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, followed by Alma Har’el at number nine with Honey Boy. Gerwig, LuLu Wang (The Farewell) and Oliva Wilde (Booksmart) were at 16, 18 and 19. All very good movies, all very good work, but the top seven films, in my opinion, were by dudes, and there are only five nominees in this category.

The nine films nominated for Best Picture do not match my personal list. This is how I rank the top 5 nominated films: 1. Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood 2. Marriage Story 3. 1917 4. The Irishman and 5. Ford v Ferrari. So, Gerwig doesn’t crack my top 5 either.

The director should be awarded with the producers of the Best Picture winner, and this category should be dropped. Actually, when a picture wins, the award should be presented to the person who directed it, not the one who bankrolled it. Also, all of those women I just mentioned should’ve been nominated before Todd Phillips (Joker) and Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) because their movies were better.

There have been years when a woman deserved a nomination and got snubbed. Kathryn Bigelow—who is, in fact, the only woman to ever win the award, for The Hurt Locker—should’ve been nominated for Zero Dark Thirty in 2013. Ava DuVernay getting snubbed in 2014 for Selma was a travesty.

What do you want me to say? The Oscars suck, and they’ve always sucked.

The only thing keeping this award out of Tarantino’s hands is his big mouth. He tends to rankle some of the voting elders. If Tarantino loses, it probably goes to Sam Mendes.

Should and Will Win: Tarantino

Other predictions:

Animated Film: Toy Story 4

Cinematography: 1917

Costume Design: Little Women

Documentary (Feature): American Factory

Documentary (Short): In the Absence

Film Editing: Parasite

International Feature Film: Parasite

Makeup and Hairstyling: Bombshell

Music (Original Score): Marriage Story

Music (Original Song): “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman

Production Design: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

Short Film (Animated): Memorable

Short Film (Live Action): A Sister

Sound Editing: 1917

Sound Mixing: 1917

Visual Effects: 1917

Adapted Screenplay: Little Women

Original Screenplay: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood