Thu. Sep 24th, 2020

Frontrunner Friday Oscar Predictions: On the comeback trail that could lead to the Dolby

This year, this season, has really given us a wealth of career comebacks, resuscitations and restorations that make for an exciting season to talk about. As I highlighted in my Don’t Call It a Comeback pieces (Part 1 and Part 2), we’ve got Oscar-winning legends like Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey) looking to return right alongside Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers) aiming for her first nomination. We have Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) mounting another career return, and hoping for a different turnout come Oscar-time, right next to Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy), who could turn his deeply troubled earlier days into an Oscar nomination (or two!) and maybe even a career renaissance a la Robert Downey Jr. But, who will actually make it all the way to the end?

With AFI FEST going on right now (I’m in you, LA!) official November Oscar predictions will be held off until the week of Thanksgiving. So, you’ll be getting two Frontrunner Fridays (here and next week) and you can always keep up with any changes I make in the meantime at the Oscar Predictions HQ. Probably a good spot to check out as I see new films and performances here at AFI, namely Queen & Slim and Richard Jewell. Plus, the Independent Spirit Award nominations are announced next Thursday so those will factor into the next Frontrunner Friday.

After Nigeria’s Lionheart last week, another film was disqualified this week by the Academy, Austria’s Joy. That marked the second this year and the second that focuses on a Nigerian cast. While the Academy dug its heels in on their reasoning (too much English is spoken in both films), it underscored some longstanding problems this category continues to struggle with in the face of non-US films having a wider and more global reach in terms of subject matter, place and language.

The Makeup and Hair Stylists guild (MUAH) announced their nominations with some predictable mentions (Bombshell, Downton Abbey) it also showed some surprising snubs in the form of Judy and Little Women. Joker flexed its guild muscles here in what could be the beginning of a Bohemian Rhapsody-like run.

The Academy announced this week the 159 films that are eligible to compete for the Documentary Feature Oscar and while there weren’t any wild snubs (no, Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old is not eligible for this season), in conjunction with the Critics Choice Documentary winners, Cinema Eye Honors nominations and Independent Documentary Association nods, things are starting to come into focus.

A late-breaking reveal yesterday showed that Netflix has moved off the previously reported category placement for The Two Popes‘ screenplay from adapted to original in a new FYC ad for the film. It seems a big risk not only because adapted is a much easier category this year (and one this film can actually win) but I find it hard to think that the Academy will allow it. For today I’m moving it back to original as per the FYC ad – which really throws things off in both categories – but it remains a tenuous hold at best.

I’m stepping way out on a limb in Best Actor and Best Actress with two huge snubs for this Frontrunner Friday. Both categories are overflowing with contenders and while we often look at “who’s in 5th” or who is the perceived weakest link, sometimes it’s the seemingly strong players that we feel are “locked” that find themselves out. Or I’m crazy. It might just be that.

Here are my Frontrunner Friday Oscar predictions for November 15, 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. Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory (Sony Classics)
5. Taron Egerton – Rocketman (Paramount)


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. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight)
2. The Irishman (Netflix)
3. Little Women (Sony/Columbia)
4. Joker (Warner Bros)
5. Hustlers (STX Entertainment)


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


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. Jojo Rabbit (Tom Eagles) – Fox Searchlight


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. The Irishman (Sandy Powell) – Netflix
4. Downton Abbey (Anna Robbins) – Focus Features
5. Dolemite Is My Name (Ruth E. Carter) – Netflix


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. Cats – “Beautiful Ghosts” (Universal)
5. Harriet, “Stand Up” (Focus Features)


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. Cats – “Beautiful Ghosts” (Universal)
5. Harriet, “Stand Up” (Focus Features)


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. Weathering With You (GKIDS)
5. Missing Link (LAIKA/Annapurna/UAR)


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

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