Our Very Early Oscar Predictions

The big date has been set, and it comes earlier than normal. Previously, the Academy Awards were in March or April, but this year they’re coming in February. Not a lot of time to get things right, but then again, they haven’t had an extraordinary track record in that area for awhile now. Still, as the months progress and several new films make their way to theaters or streaming channels, we thought we’d look at a few other categories we think are starting to shape out.


Let’s Begin with Adapted Screenplay

(We think) the nominees will be: 

Lorene Scafaria for “Hustlers”

Steven Zaillian for “The Irishman”

Greta Gerwig for “Little Women”

Todd Phillips, Scott Silver for “Joker”

Taika Waititi for “Jojo Rabbit”

Also in contention: Matthew Carnahan, Mario Correra for “Dark Waters”, Jullian Fellowes for “Downtown Abbey”, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, James Mangold, John-Henry Butterworth, Jez Butterworth, Jason Keller for“Ford v. Ferrari”

Adapted Screenplay is always a competitive race because the nominees are competing on several fronts: How good was the thing you adapted it from? Did you change anything? Did the changes make it better or worse? Do people prefer the original as opposed to your adaptation? When you’re looking to answer all those questions at once, even choosing the nominees feels like hell. Still, here’s what we’ve come up with based on what we’ve seen thus far this year. It’s still fairly early and this field could change or dare I say– expand, in the coming months.

Now Let’s Look at the Best Original Screenplay

(We think) the nominees will be:

Pedro Almodóvar for “Pain & Glory”

Noah Baumbach for “Marriage Story”

Bong Joon-ho, Han Jin-won for “Parasite” 

Quentin Tarantino for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Lulu Wang for “The Farewell”


Also in contention: Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski for “Dolemite Is My Name”, Robert Eggers, Max Eggers for “The Lighthouse”, Anthony McCarten for “The Two Popes”, Sam Mendes for  “1917”, Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie, Ronald Bronstein for “Uncut Gems”, Trey Edward Shults for  “Waves”,  Scott Z. Burns for “The Report”, James Frey, Lena Waithe for “Queen & Slim”, Lee Hall for “Rocketman”, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel, Katie Silberman for “Booksmart”,   Joanna Hogg for “The Souvenir”, Kasi Lemmons, Gregory Allen Howard for “Harriet”, Jordan Peele for “Us”, Rian Johnson for “Knives Out”

Say it with me now: “Oh yes, there will be snubs.” This category is the main reason why the Best Picture category is so wide open. There were so many good movies this year that it’s really impossible to decide which ones deserve which awards. It’s also very possible ones we didn’t name here could also sneak in and snatch a spot.  No matter who gets one of the coveted 5 nominations, there’s no denying 2019 was a spectacular year for original storytelling.

Next, Let’s Look at the Outstanding Achievements in Costume Design


(We think) the nominees will be:

Arianne Phillips for “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”

Jacqueline Durran, Greta Gerwig for “Little Women”

Paul Tazewell for “Harriet”

Julian Day for “Rocketman”

Mayes C. Rubeo for “Jojo Rabbit”

Also in contention: Sandy Powell for “The Irishman”, Mark Bridges for “Joker”, Ruth Carter for “Dolemite Is My Name”, Anna Robbins for “Downtown Abbey”, Mitchell Travers for “Hustlers”, Jany Temime for “Judy”, Amy Roth for “Motherless Brooklyn”, Linda Muir for “The Lighthouse”

Sure to be a tough category for Academy voters as well, but there’s at least a path to the 5 nominations that isn’t available in many other categories. A lot of these looks are either similar to other nominees or they’re similar to something we’ve already seen be nominated at the Oscars before. This is where the Academy’s new members are going to have an interesting standout moment. The Academy has been known for falling over themselves for English period pieces in this category, but when Ruth E. Carter’s futuristic African designs bested The Favourite’s lavish British attires, it was a clear sign that a shift was occurring in this category. Period dramas still dominate the conversation, but more focus has been directed towards use of color, flair and adding to the storytelling. Still, anything could happen in this category and we could end up being completely, utterly and categorically wrong.

Finally, Let’s Look at the Best Cinematography Category

(We think) the nominees will be:

Robert Richardson for “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”

Lawrence Sher for “Joker”

Roger Deakins for “1917”

Phedon Papamichael for “Ford v. Ferrari”

Tat Radcliffe for “Queen & Slim”

Also in contention: Rodrigo Prieto for “The Irishman”, Mihai Mălaimare Jr. for “Jojo Rabbit”, James Gray for “Ad Astra”, Hong Kyung-pyo for “Parasite”, Natasha Braier for “Honey Boy”, Claire Mathon for “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, Edward Lachman for “Dark Waters”, Drew Daniels for “Waves”


The best cinematography does one job really well, and that’s compliment and in some cases, help carry the story forward. The use of color, lighting, shading, in both pre- and post production is essential to film because a lot of times those things are used to convey certain emotions, add an evocative response to a specific scene or to illustrate the poignancy of a particular shot. It’s these skills that take a film from being your typical genre movie to an criterion collection film. The kind of film you use to teach other people how to do film. Sometimes it’s also not about what you highlight, but also what you can take away. (See last year’s winner Roma as evidence of that.) Cinematography is essential to any and all forms of film making which is why there was such backlash against the Academy last year for wanting to push this category to the commercial breaks. Without cinematography, there is no cinema.

We’re still a long way to go before February 9th in the Dolby theatre, and with the Globes just around the corner, our predictions will start to get a bit more solidified as time goes on.

Til then, see you at the movies!

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