Best Motion Picture of the Year:
Katie: It always makes me so happy when this happens. My bet (literally) is on 1917, and it deserves to win. I’ve had money on this winning since November and it finally gained frontrunner status after the Golden Globes, and boy am I happy about that. This year’s nominations are just so much better in general compared to last year’s that I’d be happy with quite a few of these winning, but 1917 truly is a masterpiece.
Ábel: 2019 was a really good film year. 1917 is super-immersive, fresh and a wonderful technical achievement. It will probably win this year but I personally would give the award to Joker. I feel many often misunderstand the film. Its main goal is not to make you sympathise with the main protagonist but to understand him, which it does really well. Joker manages to encapsulate and reflect on our current era like few other films. If cultural historians of the 2010s turn to Joker in hopes of capturing our zeitgeist, they will be fruitfully rewarded. And for that it gets my vote for the film of the year.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Katie: This is a ridiculously strong category thanks to Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Driver. If I had a vote then it would go to Driver, but Phoenix is one of the worthiest winners I could ever imagine and he has this in the bag. Driver made me ugly cry and Phoenix sent shivers down my spine. If my favourite has to lose, I’m happy for it to be to Phoenix.
Ábel: This would be a relatively average category if it wasn’t for Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Driver. But boy, those two. Both actors are amongst the most talented in their respective generations and their performances are amongst the best of the decade. Joker’s transformation in the bathroom and Charlie’s breakdown in Marriage Story will be remembered for years to come. I’m leaning towards Phoenix by an inch, and the Academy will probably agree with me.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Katie: I’m convinced last year was a glitch in the Matrix because bar Olivia Colman’s surprise win, Best Actress is always boring. So often there’s a clear frontrunner for the entire season because their film has engineered for it to be that way: an otherwise average serious film/biopic with a standout lead – think Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine or Julianne Moore in Still Alice. It’s not always the case, but Renee Zellweger in Judy really resembles this sort of campaign. Boring. Though to be fair this is one of the weakest acting categories I think I’ve ever seen, so she does actually deserve it. Doesn’t make it any less boring.
Ábel: My vote would go to Scarlett Johansson but I have not seen Judy so I’m not sure how valid my judgement here is. All the odds say Renee Zellweger which is a good comeback for her, considering most people have not seen her since 2002.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Katie: Brad Pitt. If you told me I had to bet my entire life savings on any Oscars category, I would bet on Brad Pitt. He’s been the frontrunner since the summer, has swept every other award, and he’s never won an Oscar for acting before. There’s no way he’s losing this.
Ábel: And the 1998 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor goes to… Oh wait. Anyway, I would argue that this is actually the most boring category, and I don’t have particularly strong feelings for any of these performances. All of these actors are brilliant and had great careers, but I feel like Brad Pitt should get an Oscar at some point so he might as well get it now. And he probably will.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Katie: It’s going to go to Laura Dern, which I don’t think I’ll ever understand. She’s great in Marriage Story, but her character is one-note and has been played many times before. I just think it’s sad that in a film with Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson playing incredibly layered and emotional characters, the snooty lawyer is the one winning the Oscar. I’d personally vote for Johansson in Jojo Rabbit in this category, but I know I’m in the minority there.
Ábel: Margot Robbie almost managed to save Bombshell from total mediocrity, and Laura Dern brought a great character to life perfectly, but for me, Florence Pugh was the best this year. Her Amy steals the show from Saoirse Ronan’s Jo in Little Women, no mean feat for a historically difficult character to play (this is partially thanks to Greta Gerwig’s excellent treatment of her in the script). The odds say Laura Dern but I would not entirely rule out a Pugh surprise win.
Best Achievement in Directing
Katie: I have yet to see Parasite (thanks, UK release schedule) but this is the most interesting category. I genuinely think any of them could take it. A month ago I would have said there was no way this was going to go to Sam Mendes or Todd Phillips, but then Mendes won the Globe and will probably win the Bafta, and I didn’t think Phillips would even manage a nomination. I’m going to predict Bong Joon-ho on this one, but that’s a true stab in the dark at this point.
Ábel: I think Sam Mendes has this, and rightfully so. 1917 is a very immersive experience and making it look like one continuous shot is a great achievement. It also adds to the story by showing how tight and urgent the soldiers’ mission was. I’m personally happy for Todd Phillips’ nomination but Mendes should get this.
Best Original Screenplay
Katie: Another wide-open category. I would love for Marriage Story to take this one, but I think it’s between Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Parasite. Again, going to predict Bong Joon-ho for Parasite, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tarantino took it. Baumbach I’d be more surprised at, but I think he deserves it.
Ábel: I agree with Katie, every single sentence in Marriage Story feels extremely natural and human, there’s no doubt I would give the award to Baumbach. And you know what? I’ll be bold and say he will actually get it. We’ve seen bigger surprises before. Also, can I just say how happy I am that Rian Johnson was nominated here for Knives Out? Well deserved.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Katie: Gotta be The Irishman. I’m not a huge fan of this film simply because there just… is so much dialogue, but it’s good dialogue. I find the nomination of The Two Popes fascinating because even though it has a great script, it’s written by a man adapting his own play… so surely it’s just the same as what he’d already written elsewhere? I don’t know, I just find it bizarre. Novel to screenplay adaptations will always be far more impressive to me. A Little Women upset would please me greatly, but I can’t see it happening.
Ábel: I’m a huge fan of Joker, but my vote would go to Little Women. I feel like it would be more fitting for Joker to run in the original screenplay category as the only thing adapted from the comic books are the characters and the world itself but the film is telling an original story with them. I found Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women rather creative and I feel like it qualifies more as an “adaptation” than Joker. I would personally not be surprised by a Gerwig win.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Katie: Oscars are like waiting for buses. You wait 24 years and receive 13 nominations, and then suddenly you win two in two years. Roger Deakins is a genius and they might as well have just not nominated any film that wasn’t 1917.
Ábel: I agree with Katie, this is a very obvious and well-deserved win for Roger Deakins. Shoutout to Lawrence Sher’s use of colours in Joker though.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Katie: I was all aboard the Joker train for this award until I saw 1917, so now I’m rooting for Thomas Newman. However, Hildur Guonadottir’s score really is the genius behind how unsettling Joker is, so I’d be happy with her taking this award. Also, only 3 women have ever won in this category. So I’m good with there being a fourth.
Ábel: I have to say, I’m still on the Joker train. Personally, I don’t feel like the score contributed that much to the overall quality of 1917. But Guonadottir’s music in Joker is a brilliant slow descent into madness and adds more depth to the character and the film itself. It’s nice for John Williams to be nominated for his final Star Wars score but just like the film itself, the soundtrack also turned out to be mediocre (by his standards at least).
Katie: Sound editing and mixing go completely over my head, so predicting those is a little tough. Potentially 1917 for both. For the others, I think I’d predict Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for Production Design and The Irishman for Visual Effects. Unsure about Editing; after last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody fiasco I’m tempted to say people just vote for whichever film looks the flashiest, so perhaps Ford v Ferrari?
Ábel: The sound awards will deservedly go to 1917. The sounds of gunshots and explosions contributed a great deal to how immersive the film turned out to be. Production design should go to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for its 1960s LA. I’d give the Visual Effects award to Star Wars, but it will probably go to The Irishman. Costume design: Little Women, Editing: I have no idea.
Katie: Jennifer. Lopez. Should. Be. Here. I think this is what makes me so upset about Laura Dern being the frontrunner. She plays her character well, but there’s no depth to it. J-Lo gave a career-defining performance as a character with confidence and vulnerability, bravado and fear. She was incredible in Hustlers and it’s criminal that she’s not nominated. Taron Egerton is a close runner-up; hot take but if Elton John was dead then Egerton would be getting the same energy that Rami Malek got last year. Best Actor is a strong category, but Egerton really is something else in Rocketman.
Ábel: I would say The Farewell, given that I think it would have deserved nominations (and probably wins) in A LOT of categories, including directing, screenplay, and also two acting nominations for Awkwafina in the leading role and Shuzen Zhao in a supporting role. The snub is probably thanks to the fact that most members of the Academy can’t really relate to first or second-generation immigrant experiences. Further diversification can help resolve issues like this, and the Academy is going in the right direction in that department, but of course, it will take time.
Most overrated film in this year’s awards season
Katie: I’m tempted to say Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but that’s mainly because I straight up just did not like it at all. To me, it’s definitely the most overhyped from a personal standpoint, but I think the most overhyped on a general scale is The Irishman. I think everyone else in Hollywood has figured this out too, as its days as a frontrunner were real, but are also long gone. I expect it to walk away with one, maybe two awards if people buy the Visual Effects well enough.
Ábel: As I said in the beginning, this was a really good film year. So I think most of these films deserve to be here. I found Bombshell super average but it got well-deserved nominations for its performances. So overall, I’m happy with this year’s nominees. Apart from the fact that The Farewell is not amongst them.
If you could come up with a new category what would it be and who would be the winner this year?
Katie: Best. Stunt. Ensemble. This is the key to rewarding more blockbusters in a way that doesn’t involve an awful ‘Best Popular Film’ award. The SAG Awards have been giving out this award for 20 years and it’s insane to me that it doesn’t exist in the Academy yet. The work these people do is incredible and just as important as the acting or the visual effects in their respective films. The winner this year would have to be Avengers: Endgame. Those fights, as always, are slick.
Ábel: Best casting/Best performance by a cast. Nina Gold has done such a great service to Cinema that this award should be created just so she can get an Oscar. She would not win this year though, as I felt Knives Out’s cast was the best this year. Casting there was done by Mary Vernieu.