Oscar predictions 2020: from Joker to Tarantino

It’s the hottest ticket in the Hollywood calendar, the night when the biggest movie stars on the planet get together to celebrate the best the industry had to offer over the previous year. But who’ll be taking home those famous golden statuettes at the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony on February 9, 2020?

The nominations won’t be revealed until January 13, but that doesn’t mean we can’t predict who’ll be in the running. We’ve looked at the shortlists for other big Hollywood awards (the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards) and tapped into pre-Academy Award buzz to work out who we think will be slugging it out on Oscar night.

Will The Irishman make a killing for Netflix? Will Once Upon a Time in Hollywood give Quentin Tarantino his first Best Picture win? Or will Avengers: Endgame or Joker become the first comic book movies to take the big prize? We take a look at the contenders to work out the likely nominations for this year’s Oscars – and predict who might be delivering a victory speech on the night… 

When are the Oscar nominations for 2020 announced?

As mentioned above, the Oscar nominations will be announced on January 13. The awards themselves take place on Sunday, February 9. Shortlists for some of the less headline-grabbing categories, like visual effects, have been posted on the Academy's site

Best Picture 2020 Oscar predictions

  • 1917
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Bombshell
  • The Irishman
  • Jojo Rabbit
  • Joker
  • Little Women
  • Marriage Story
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • Parasite

After Martin Scorsese famously said he believed that Marvel movies aren’t cinema, expect one of the biggest pop culture debates of 2019 to continue into the shortlist for the biggest Academy Award of the night.

Scorsese’s mob epic The Irishman is as close as you get to a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination, but don’t be surprised to see it up against Avengers: Endgame come Oscar night. Sci-fi and fantasy movies haven’t traditionally been popular with the Academy, but history may be on the side of Iron Man, Captain America and the rest. After all, Black Panther opened the door for the MCU with numerous nominations last year; Endgame’s predecessors as all-time box office champions, Titanic and Avatar, were both shortlisted for Best Picture; and The Lord of the Rings waited until its final instalment before The Return of The King hit Oscar paydirt.

Elsewhere in this bumper category (the nomination limit was increased to 10 in 2009): the critically adored Marriage Story seems best set to challenge its Netflix stablemate The Irishman, while Joker could join the Avengers to show that comic book movies are a really broad church. Other likely contenders include Fox News biopic Bombshell, World War 1 epic 1917, unlikely Hitler comedy/drama Jojo Rabbit, a brilliant Little Women adaptation, Quentin Tarantino’s ode to 1960s Hollywood, and Cannes Palme d’Or winner Parasite. 

Who do we think will win? Given the talent involved and the technical achievement of successfully de-ageing Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, it’s hard to look past The Irishman. 

Who do we want to win? As the pinnacle of blockbuster filmmaking – and the culmination of a 22-movie story arc – it would be exciting to see Avengers: Endgame win the big prize. Don’t bet your house on it, though.   

Best Director Oscar predictions

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

  • Greta Gerwig (Little Women) 
  • Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) 
  • Sam Mendes (1917)   
  • Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) 
  • Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) 

Expect the Academy to put right Greta Gerwig’s Golden Globes snub by giving her a nomination, her second after 2017’s Lady Bird. The competition will be stiff, however: Martin Scorsese and Sam Mendes (whose all-in-one-shot war movie 1917 brings plenty of wow factor) are both vying for their second Best Director prize, while Quentin Tarantino will be hungry for his first after his best-received movie in years. And don’t bet against Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s work on Parasite. 

Who do we think will win? A much-loved movie directed by an icon of cinema means Scorsese is the person to beat – assuming there’s no anti-Netflix backlash, as there has been in previous years. 

Who do we want to win? Few directors make as impressive a start to their careers as Greta Gerwig – surely it’s time for the Academy to recognise an exciting newcomer. 

Best Actor Oscar predictions


  • Antonio Banderas (Pain & Glory) 
  • Adam Driver (Marriage Story) 
  • Taron Egerton (Rocketman)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
  • Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) 

Where else would you find the Pope in competition with Elton John? Jonathan Pryce has attracted plenty of buzz for his convincing outing as Pope Francis (a role he was arguably destined to play), while Pedro Almodóvar traditionally coaxes a great performance out of Antonio Banderas. After Joker pushed the boundaries of what a comic-book movie can do, however, it would be a brave person who bets against Joaquin Phoenix following up his 2005 victory for Walk the Line.

Who do we think will win? It’s a toss-up between Adam Driver – equally charismatic, whether he’s ruling the galaxy or dealing with divorce in Marriage Story – or Joaquin Phoenix’s chillingly unhinged performance in Joker.  

Who do we want to win? Could playing Elton John do for Taron Egerton what Freddie Mercury did for Rami Malek last year? The Kingsman star delivers a tour de force performance in Rocketman – and he does his own singing. 

Best Actress Oscar predictions

Marriage Story

  • Awkwafina (The Farewell) 
  • Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) 
  • Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story) 
  • Saoirse Ronan (Little Women) 
  • Renée Zellweger (Judy) 

One of the hardest categories to call because of the strength of the competition – as with Best Picture, this shortlist could easily feature twice as many nominees, and they’d all deserve their place. Most excitingly it’s a mix of up-and-comers (Awkwafina, Cynthia Erivo), genuine A-listers (Scarlett Johansson) and regular Oscar contenders (Saoirse Ronan, Renée Zellweger) – and that’s ignoring previous winners Emma Thompson (Late Night) and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). Let battle commence!

Who do we think will win? Zellweger’s performance as Judy Garland feels like the Hollywood choice, but after Johansson’s emotionally powerful performance in Marriage Story, it feels like this could be her year.

Who do we want to win? This would be a fourth Oscar nomination for Saoirse Ronan by the age of 25 – she probably won’t win this year, but surely her time must come soon, as it did for Kate Winslet.  

Best Supporting Actor Oscar predictions

The Irishman

  • 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) 

This category is traditionally a Lifetime Achievement Award by stealth, and never has that been more true than this year, when the frontrunners are all bona fide Hollywood legends. In fact, the only one of our quintet yet to get their hands on a golden statue is Brad Pitt – and that may just work in his favour…

Who do we think will win? With The Irishman vote likely to be split between Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and The Two Popes both likely to be Oscar night outsiders, the stars are aligning for Brad Pitt. 

Who do we want to win? Pitt’s laconic stuntman was one of the best things about Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and few could begrudge him an Academy Award as reward for an impressive career. 

Best Supporting Actress Oscar predictions

  • Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell)
  • Laura Dern (Marriage Story) 
  • Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit) 
  • Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) 
  • Margot Robbie (Bombshell) 

Unlike its male counterpart, our shortlist only features one previous Oscar winner (Kathy Bates). With a Best Actress nomination probable, Scarlett Johansson’s unlikely to win here against her Marriage Story co-star Laura Dern – though all of the contenders should be keeping an eye on Jennifer Lopez, whose performance in crime drama Hustlers has launched her back into the Hollywood consciousness.

Who do we think will win? We probably wouldn’t have believed she’d be in the running a year ago, but Jennifer Lopez resurrected her career in spectacular style with Hustlers – her best performance since Out of Sight 22 years ago.

Who do we want to win? It’s hard to believe that it’s only seven years since Margot Robbie burst onto the scene in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. After a string of memorable performances since, her turn as a Fox News producer in Bombshell could launch her into the elite.  

Best Original Screenplay Oscar predictions

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

  • Booksmart 
  • Knives Out 
  • Marriage Story 
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood 
  • Us

This category may be the best chance of a win for Best Picture contenders Marriage Story and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but they won’t get it all their own way. High school comedy/drama Booksmart made many critics‘ “best of 2019” lists, Rian Johnson’s Knives Out is a wonderfully sharp whodunnit, and after the Oscar-winning success of Get Out, Jordan Peele is very much on the Academy’s radar.

Who do we think will win? Seeing as Hollywood traditionally loves movies about itself, expect Quentin Tarantino to pick up his third writing Oscar – that should soothe the blow of (probably) missing out on Best Picture and Best Director.

Who do we want to win? Hilarious, touching and brilliantly observed, Booksmart instantly forced its way into the pantheon of classic high school movies. An honourable mention to Knives Out as well.   

Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar predictions

  • Ford v Ferrari (Le Mans ’66 in the UK) 
  • The Irishman 
  • Little Women 
  • The Two Popes 
  • Toy Story 4 

Another category that could have a strong Netflix contingent, with The Two Popes (adapted by Anthony McCarten from his own play) likely to be up against The Irishman, Steven Zaillian’s take on I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. Expect strong competition to come from Little Women, Toy Story 4 (surely one of the first ‘part fours’ ever to be in Oscar contention), and racetrack biopic Ford v Ferrari.

Who do we think will win? We’ve got a feeling it’ll be The Irishman’s night, so would be surprised if this isn’t part of a big haul for the movie. 

Who do we want to win? Assuming Greta Gerwig doesn’t win Best Director, this would be a well deserved consolation. That said, we’d have no complaints if Toy Story 4 bagged the prize nearly a quarter of a decade after the original movie won a screenwriting Oscar of its own. 

Best Animated Feature 

  • Frozen II
  • I Lost My Body
  • Klaus
  • Missing Link
  • Toy Story 4

It’s an unusual year when a Disney movie doesn’t take this prize home and with box office smashes Toy Story 4 and Frozen II in the field, that’s unlikely to change in 2020. Cementing its arrival as a major player in movies, Netflix looks set to enter the frame with Christmas-themed Klaus and the leftfield I Lost My Body, while Laika (the company behind Paranorman and the sublime Kubo and the Two Strings) is likely to fly the stop-motion with Missing Link. 

Who do we think will win? In a clash of the Disney titans, Toy Story 4 seems to have the edge over Frozen II, and maintain Pixar’s record of winning the prize, on average, every other year.

Who do we want to win? While it would be nice to show some love to an unconventional newbie like I Lost My Body, Toy Story 4 was such a perfect end to a wonderful saga that the heart belongs to Woody and Buzz. 

Best Score Oscar predictions

  • 1917 (Thomas Newman)
  • Avengers: Endgame (Alan Silvestri)
  • Joker (Hildur Guðnadóttir)
  • Marriage Story (Randy Newman)
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams)

Traditionally one of the hardest categories to call – yes, every category in the Oscars is subjective, but the success of a score is so down to personal taste that it’s incredibly difficult to second guess what Oscar voters will go for. Still, the Academy’s already-published 15-movie shortlist offers a few clues – and some composing royalty is likely to be in the mix, sharing a mind-boggling number of previous nominations between them. 

Who do we think will win? He’s just completed the score for the ninth movie in a saga he began in 1977 with the original Star Wars – don’t be surprised if this turns into a lifetime achievement award (and fifth Oscar win) for the 87-year-old John Williams. 

Who do we want to win? Hildur Guðnadóttir is the only newcomer on the list, but her foreboding, string-heavy Joker score added to the uneasy, grimy atmosphere of an unsettling movie. 

Best International Feature Film Oscar predictions

  • Atlantics (Senegal) 
  • Honeyland (North Macedonia)  
  • Les Misérables (France) 
  • Pain & Glory (Spain) 
  • Parasite (South Korea) 

The fact that there’s no requirement for Academy voters to have watched every foreign language movie in contention arguably has a larger effect on this category than any other – most of the releases won’t have received a wide release in the United States, so won’t be in the general consciousness. That means that – even with a pre-released 10-movie shortlist to work from – the more famous, most-talked about movies are at a big advantage. That’s surely going to work in favour of Parasite, which should also be in contention for Best Picture. 

Who do we think will win? It’s already won the Palme D’Or at Cannes, has received brilliant reviews and could be on the shortlist for Best Picture – it’s impossible to look past Parasite. 

Who do we want to win? Parasite would be a worthy winner, but seeing as the consistently brilliant Pedro Almodóvar won his only Oscar 20 years ago (for All About My Mother), it feels like a second – for Pain & Glory – is long overdue. 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

in development