Tue. Jul 14th, 2020

Frontrunner Friday Oscar Predictions: Keeping the ‘Spirit’ alive post-AFI FEST

It’s the end of AFI FEST 2019 and just a day after the nominations for the 35th Film Independent Spirit Awards. How much did these events change the Oscar race?

For AFI, the Los Angeles-based film festival (the last of the season) brought the world premieres of Universal’s Queen & Slim from first-time feature director Melina Matsoukas and Warner Bros. Richard Jewell, from multi-Oscar winner Clint Eastwood. For Queen & Slim, the response and reviews were largely positive but it’s going to struggle making a dent in the awards race. It should be a strong box office performer though, and deserves to be. Richard Jewell is likely going to divide critics and audiences, probably more severely than it should. It might play well for some Oscar voters and Eastwood devotees, but the last time Clint brought us an unlikely hero in a dramatic, real-life situation it was Sully, which earned a whopping one Oscar nomination – and not even for Tom Hanks – for Sound Editing. Like The Mule last year, this should be a good box office player and might have to just settle for that. If not, keep and eye out for previous Oscar winners Kathy Bates and Sam Rockwell to shake things up a bit.

The Spirit Award nominations came in like a hurricane full of ‘How did they get snubbed??’ and ‘I’ve never heard of that movie,’ which is par for the course for the independent group of 50 voters who decide the nominees. While some main indie contenders missed a nom here and there (where is Awkwafina?), others solidified frontrunner status (hello, Renée Zellweger) or at least jumped an initial hurdle. Jennifer Lopez eked out a nomination, a good get for her, in supporting female for Hustlers, her second Spirit Award nomination. Her main competition, Laura Dern, wasn’t eligible for an individual nomination as Marriage Story was given the juried Robert Altman Award, which goes to a film’s cast, casting director and director. Recent winners of that prize have gone on to win Best Picture, including Moonlight and Spotlight. One thing about the Spirit Awards though, their winners have zero impact on the Oscars. With their ceremony being the before the Academy Awards and long after Oscar voting has ended, it’s only a nomination that can begin a path for a film or performance, not decide it.

Inevitably though, a huge swath of this year’s nominees won’t be coming anywhere near Oscar and huge misses happen every year. Both BlacKkKlansman and Call Me By Your Name missed out on screenplay nominations in their respective years and went on to win the Oscar anyway. The big winners from Thursday’s announcement were both from A24: Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse and Uncut Gems from the Safdie Brothers. Uncut Gems was the only film to earn nominations across all the major fields – Feature, Director(s), Acting and Screenplay. Does that position it better for the Oscars? Adam Sandler maybe, Editing maybe. We’ll see what the upcoming guilds have to say. For The Lighthouse it gives some solid ground for Willem Dafoe in supporting and Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography, both of which were already on most pundits’ predictions or radar. It boosts Robert Pattinson too, especially in a very tough and packed field of Best Actor.

This week also gave us some doc insight with nominations from the Producers Guild of America and the International Documentary Association, each of whom have a checkered correlation with Oscar, as well as the Hollywood Music in Media (HMMA) awards in the world of original scores and original songs. The top winners here last year (Black Panther and “Shallow” from A Star Is Born) repeated at the Academy Awards.

Still to be seen are the holiday releases of Cats, 1917 (which starts screening tomorrow) and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. There’s a lot of potential in all three of these both in terms of box office and Oscar nominations but in this shortened season they’re going to have to work double time against films that have already been in voters’ hands via screeners over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here are my Frontrunner Friday Oscar predictions for November 22, 2019.


1. Marriage Story (Netflix – 11/6, theatrical / 12/6, streaming) – Venice/Telluride/TIFF/NYFF
2. Parasite (Neon – 10/11) – Cannes/Telluride/TIFF/NYFF
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia – 7/26) – Cannes
4. The Irishman (Netflix – 11/1 theatrical / 11/27 streaming) – NYFF
5. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight – 10/18) – TIFF
6. 1917 (Universal – 12/25)
7. The Farewell (A24 – 7/12) – Sundance
8. The Two Popes (Netflix – 11/27, theatrical / 12/20 streaming) – Telluride/TIFF/AFI
9. Little Women (Sony/Columbia – 12/25)
10. Joker (Warner Bros – 10/4) – Venice/TIFF/NYFF


1. Bong Joon-ho – Parasite (Neon)
2. Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story (Netflix)
3. Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
4. Martin Scorsese – The Irishman (Netflix)
5. Sam Mendes – 1917 (Universal)


1. Adam Driver – Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Joaquin Phoenix – Joker (Warner Bros)
3. Jonathan Pryce – The Two Popes (Netflix)
4. Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
5. Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)


1. Renée Zellweger – Judy (Roadside Attractions)
2. Charlize Theron – Bombshell (Lionsgate)
3. Awkwafina – The Farewell (A24)
4. Lupita Nyong’o – Us (Universal)
5. Cynthia Erivo – Harriet (Focus Features)


1. Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
2. Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar)
3. Al Pacino – The Irishman (Netflix)
4. Anthony Hopkins – The Two Popes (Netflix)
5. Willem Dafoe – The Lighthouse (A24)


1. Laura Dern – Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers (STX Entertainment)
3. Zhao Shuzhen – The Farewell (A24)
4. Margot Robbie – Bombshell (Lionsgate)
5. Florence Pugh – Little Women (Sony/Columbia)


1. The Two Popes (Netflix)
2. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
3. The Irishman (Netflix)
4. Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
5. Joker (Warner Bros)


1. Marriage Story (Netflix)
2. Parasite (Neon)
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia)
4. The Farewell (A24)
5. Us (Universal)


1. Ford v. Ferrari (Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker, Dirk Westervelt) – 20th Century Fox
2. The Irishman (Thelma Schoonmaker) – Netflix
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Fred Raskin) – Sony/Columbia
4. Marriage Story (Jennifer Lame) – Netflix
5. Parasite (Jinmo Yang) – Neon


1. 1917 (Roger Deakins) – Universal
2. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Robert Richardson) – Sony/Columbia
3. The Irishman (Rodrigo Prieto) – Netflix
4. A Hidden Life (Jörg Widmer) – Fox Searchlight
5. The Lighthouse (Jarin Blaschke) – A24


1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Barbara Ling) – Sony/Columbia
2. The Two Popes (Mark Tildesley) – Netflix
3. The Irishman (Bob Shaw) – Netflix
4. Cats (Eve Stewart) – Universal
5. Ad Astra (Kevin Thompson) – 20th Century Fox


1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Arianne Phillips) – Sony/Columbia
2. Little Women (Jacqueline Durran) – Sony/Columbia
3. Downton Abbey (Anna Robbins) – Focus Features
4. Dolemite Is My Name (Ruth E. Carter) – Netflix
5. Rocketman (Julian Day) – Paramount


1. 1917 (Thomas Newman) – Universal
2. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams) – Disney
3. Little Women (Alexandre Desplat) – Sony/Columbia
4. Joker (Hildur Guðnadóttir) – Warner Bros
5. Marriage Story (Randy Newman) – Netflix


1. Frozen II – “Into the Unknown” (Disney)
2. Toy Story 4 – “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” (Disney/Pixar)
3. Rocketman – “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (Paramount)
4. Harriet, “Stand Up” (Focus Features)
5. Cats – “Beautiful Ghosts” (Universal)


1. 1917 (Universal)
2. Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
3. Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox
4. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
5. Joker (Warner Bros)


1. 1917 (Universal)
2. Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox)
3. Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
4. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
5. Rocketman (Paramount)


1. Bombshell (Lionsgate)
2. Judy (Roadside Attractions)
3. Joker (Warner Bros)
4. Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix)
5. Downton Abbey (Focus Features)


1. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)
2. The Lion King (Disney)
3. Avengers: Endgame (Disney)
4. Ad Astra (20th Century Fox)
5. The Irishman (Netflix)


1. Toy Story 4 (Disney/Pixar)
2. Frozen II (Disney)
3. I Lost My Body (Netflix)
4. Missing Link (LAIKA/Annapurna/UAR)
5. Weathering With You (GKIDS)


1. American Factory (Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar) – Netflix
2. Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller) – Neon
3. One Child Nation (Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang) – Amazon
4. Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov)
5. The Cave (Feras Fayyad) – National Geographic


1. South Korea – Parasite (Bong Joon-ho) – Neon
2. Spain – Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar) – Sony Classics
3. France – Les Misérables (Ladj Ly) – Amazon
4. Sweden – And Then We Danced (Levan Akin) – Music Box
5. Senegal – Atlantics (Mati Diop) – Netflix

%d bloggers like this: