FOR AN OSCAR MORNING TRACKING SHEET, CLICK HERE. My predictions are in BOLD.
It’s hard to know precisely how the Academy will handle this year’s announcements. We have the list of categories that will be announced and in which grouping, but we have no idea in what order they will be announced and we only found out on Friday that the presenters will be John Cho and Issa Rae, neither of whom will be nominated, making them a good, if film-limited combo just like last year’s selection. Whether they will be any good or not remains to be seen, but hopefully they’ll be more organic than Nanjiani and Ross.
We don’t know if there will be taped introductions then a voice-over reading of the nominees. We don’t know whether there will be directors announcing the first batch. We don’t know what order the nominees will be announced in. Suffice it to say, the traditions of almost three decades of morning announcements are likely gone forever and probably won’t be back. Based on the announcement info we know so far, my guess is that the announcement will be exactly like last year’s in terms of production values and oddness.
The category breakdown will be unchanged form last year. Group 1 is Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing. Group 2 is Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Leading Role, Animated Feature Film, Cinematography, Directing, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Foreign Language Film, Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Picture, Visual Effects, Adapted Screenplay, Original Screenplay, and Original Song.
Other than Best Picture being presented last, it’s still noteworthy that two of the most prominent categories that were usually announced in the latter half are getting shunted to the early half: Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress. That’s the kind of tacky breakdown the Golden Globes often do. Other than that, they have not announced a category announcement order, so the information below will be ordered as I see fit, largely tackling categories that won’t impact others first, then digging into the other categories.
Below, embedded in this article, is a video where you can watch the announcement streamed live starting at 5:18:30am PST / 7:18:30am CST / 8:18:30am EST / 1:18:30pm GMT / 9:18:30pm China for Group 1 and 5:30:30am PST / 7:30:30am CST / 8:30:30am EST / 1:30:30pm GMT / 9:30:30pm China for Group 2.
Every year, I put together an article that goes through the order of announcement and gives you not only an idea of what to expect, but how it might affect later announcements or might have been impacted by earlier ones. The above PDF features all of the films and individuals I’ve listed as Hopefuls on my site so that you can print it out and follow along as the announcements are made (at least as best you can).
With some of my personal opinions about the race highlighted in yesterday’s other final nominations predictions post, I’m going to try and keep things brief. However, we all know how that usually turns out.
Without knowing how they will make the announcements and in what order, the below may be a bit arbitrary. At the end of each category, there’s a short, alphabetized list in the order the nominations would be announced so you can quickly look over the order in a small space. Traditionally, the nominations had been announced in alphabetical order by film title in all except the acting categories, which will be ordered by last name.
It must be noted that in the past films that start with numbers are typically ordered by the first letter of the word of the number (such as 127 Hours being listed under “O”). That said, 1917 has been listed most frequently at the head of the list because it’s only a number. It’s possible they could list it under the letter “N.” We’ll know pretty early on if that’s the case as 1917 looks to earn several below-the-line tech nominations. I will hedge my bets and list it under “N” based on what I’ve seen the Academy do in recent years.
Best Live Action Short Film
This category is often hard to predict, so I’ll let the order speak for itself.
Brotherhood, Christmas Gift, Little Hands, Miller, Nefta, Window, Refugee, Saria, Sister, Somestimes/Dying
Best Animated Short Film
This category is often hard to predict, so I’ll let the order speak for itself.
Dcera/Daughter, Hair Love, Cosmos, Hors Piste, Kitbull, Memorable, Mind My Mind, Physics, Sister, Uncle Thomas
Best Sound Mixing
As much as any category, the Sound categories were once open to all sorts of films, but in the 1970s and later, the category became the purview of tech-heavy films rather than broadly accessible ones. That seems to have changed in the last few years, such that films like The Irishman could contend where films like Terminator: Dark Fate used to dominate.
There are a handful of films that could get nominations here, but the first on the list will either be Avengers: Endgame or Ford v Ferrari. The latter will tell you that Avengers might be having a rough time. Change this all if 1917, sure to be nominated, goes out first. At this point, the rest of this article will be in error and perhaps a bit out of place. After Ford, the next big surprise could occur. Will it be The Irishman or Joker or Jojo Rabbit or Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood? Any or all of these three films could be nominated. Once is the most likely of the three and if it’s third announced, then the category will probably be filled out with Rocketman and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. If it’s fourth, then Star Wars might be in trouble. If it’s Rocketman left off, the film may not make it in most of the remaining categories.
Avengers: Endgame, Ford, Irishman, Joker, Jojo Rabbit, Lion King, 1917, Once Upon, Rocketman, Star Wars, Terminator
Best Sound Editing
The same announcement order applies in the Sound Editing category as in Sound Mixing (and vice versa). As the Academy has acknowledged, voters don’t really know the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. The sound department does, so among the nominees above, The Irishman is highly unlikely to make the cut at all. That won’t really leave an opening. If this category and Sound Mixing were identical, I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Avengers: Endgame might have a better shot at a nomination here than in Mixing.
Avengers, Ford, Gemini Man, Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, 1917, Rocketman, Star Wars, Terminator
Best Costume Design
With only a couple of guarantees in this category, the space between the first nominee, likely Dolomite Is My Name, and the last nominee, likely Rocketman, could be anyone’s guess. Before we get to Dolemite Is My Name, there is one and only one potential surprise. 1917, but only if it’s alphabetized by number rather than letter. Aladdin is the film I’m really talking about as it could also surprise with a first-berth bid, but I find that possibility decreasingly likely.
There are essentially eight titles to fill the three-space void between the aforementioned titles. Aladdin, Downton Abbey, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, 1917, and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. Any of these films could be selected and a surprise like Portrait of a Lady on Fire or Harriet could be in the offing. The second title announced will certainly tell us something about the remaining title. Downton Abbey could very well be second, though it will mean a few shocking omissions afterward. Little Women or Jojo Rabbit could be second and I wouldn’t be surprised. With few guarantees, there’s really no way to know how things will go until they happen in this category, one of the widest-open of all categories this year.
Ad Astra, Aladdin, Dolemite, Downton, Dumbo, Harriet, Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Maleficent, 1917, Once Upon, Rocketman
Best Film Editing
This is the best place to see Best Picture contenders in advance, matter of fact, a film showing up here unexpectedly is far more likely to suggest a Best Picture nomination than not. It might also give us an idea of how strong those films are. Strangely enough, the first title announced, will probably be the only one not guaranteed a Best Picture placement. Ford v Ferrari is expected to lead off the nominations. There just isn’t much one can think of that could come before it, but if there is something, that film will surely be a much bigger player than anyone expected. After Ford, it’s Irishman. From there, the big question is what comes next. For all expectations 1917 is expected to be announced third, but any one of Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, or Marriage Story could show up before. Women is the most likely spoiler and if Ford or Irishman don’t show up, my expectation is that Women takes that placement. After that, 1917 or Once Upon a Time… will be next. If we are at three prior titles, it will be one or the other, most likely Once. If there are only two, it should follow 1917, Once, and finally Parasite. Anything beyond that would be surprising and Parasite not showing up could be a nasty harbinger for that film.
Ford, Irishman, Jojo, Little Women, Marriage, 1917, Once Upon, Parasite, Rocketman, Star Wars, Us
Best Original Score
Here there be competition…and a lot of it would come alphabetically before Joker, the likely first nominee on the list. If that’s the case, then the next three are almost guaranteed to be Little Women, Marriage Story, and 1917. If those three are in the middle, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is likely the fifth nominee. If those three are first and Joker is shockingly omitted, then Us could take up the fifth slot. Any one of these could disappear in a shock omission, so keep an eye on which film doesn’t show up, as its chances in other categories may well have diminished.
Avengers, Bombshell, Farewell, Ford, Frozen II, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, The King, Little Women, Marriage, Motherless, 1917, Pain/Glory, Star Wars, Us
Best Supporting Actor
There are two nominees that are assured spots and they both come towards the end of nominations. The first name on the list could tell us a lot. Willem Dafoe or Jamie Foxx wouldn’t be entirely surprising, but they would certainly mean that one of Tom Hanks or Anthony Hopkins has been jettisoned. If both are there, then Hanks and Hopkins are both gone. Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, and Brad Pitt would be surprising omissions, but Pacino has always felt like the weaker one. By the time the announcer hits Pitt, he’ll either be in the fifth slot or the fifth will be filled with Wesley Snipes or Song Kang-ho. The latter is the most likely upset nominee in this category by merit of his film’s major player status. That said, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Foxx show up if the Academy’s diversity push really did its job. Snipes could also benefit, but that’s not as likely.
Dafoe, Foxx, Hanks, Hopkins, Lithgow, Pacino, Pesci, Pitt, Snipes, Song
Best Supporting Actress
Ideally, there are only four performances that could surprise and two of them come early on. If Laura Dern is first, then that number drops to two as Kathy Bates and Annette Bening will be ignored. Bates could well be the first on the list, but that means Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson could be in trouble. If Dern is first, though, it’s probable the list then goes Johansson, Lopez, Florence Pugh, and finally Margot Robbie, probably for Bombshell, but maybe for Once Upon a Time…. That said, Lopez and Johansson are the weakest links and could easily be ignored for Bates, Bening, Nicole Kidman (if Bombshell does better with Oscar voters than it did with precursors), or Zhao Shuzhen. Shuzhen’s appearance might foretell an Awkwafina nomination, but her omission is likely the death knell for Awkwafina. One of the ladies from Parasite could come completely off of the radar to a nomination, but that doesn’t seem as likely. None of the selections here can really tell us the strength of their films unless Dern or Pugh somehow miss the list.
Bates, Bening, Dern, Johansson, Kidman, Lopez, Pugh, Robbie/Bomb, Robbie/Once, Shuzhen
Best Documentary Feature
It’s difficult to say with certainty how this will all go and since all of the frontrunners could easily be upended by the vagaries of documentary branch voting patterns, there’s little to say about it all.
Advocate, Apollo 11, Aquarela, Am. Factory, Biggest, Cave, Edge/Democracy, For Sama, Great Hack, Honeyland, Knock Down, Maiden, Midnight Fam, One Child
Best Documentary Short Subject
This category is often hard to predict, so I’ll let the order speak for itself.
After Maria, Fire/Paradise, Ghosts/Sugar, In/Absence, Skateboard, Life Overtakes, Nightcrawlers, St Louis, Stay Close, Walk Run
Best Original Song
This category has little to no bearing on any other category with one major exception. “A Glass of Soju” could be the beneficiary of a major love-fest for Parasite. Beyond that, take them in the order they are presented and wing it. The interesting thing, though, is that if there’s going to be a surprise documentary song nominated, it could either be announced early or late in the category.
Catchy, Da Bronx, Daily, Glasgow, Soju, High Above, I Can’t Let, Love Me, I’m Standing, Into/Unknown, Godfather, Never/Late, Speechless, Spirit, Stand/Up
This is a category where surprises can happen and the strength of a Best Picture contender manifests itself. Right now, Oscar contenders Marriage Story and Parasite could do well enough without this nomination. However, something like Joker or Irishman missing could spell trouble. The first title will either be a surprise or The Irishman. After that, it should proceed fairly expectedly such that Lighthouse is the weak link. If it’s announced third, then the competition is over, but if 1917 announces third, then Parasite could be fifth. Unfortunately, the biggest surprise could be that final one with Portrait of a Lady taking the fifth slot unexpectedly. That said, if Once Upon a Time… is third, then Parasite and Portrait would both make it in.
Astra, Ford, Hidden, Irishman, Jojo, Joker, Lighthouse, Marriage, 1917, Once Upon, Parasite, Portrait
Best Production Design
Where will the big surprise of this category fall? Other than the five predicted nominees, most of the potential spoilers come towards the beginning with Jojo Rabbit and Rocketman the only ones that could be late surprises. However, it’s impossible to know for sure since the traditions of this category have been fading over time and what is expected doesn’t always make it through. That said, you can always count on 3 or 4 films to overlap with Costume Design.
Astra, Aladdin, Dolemite, Downton, Dumbo, Ford, Harriet, Irishman, Jojo, Joker, Little Women, Maleficent, 1917, Once Upon, Parasite, Rocketman, Star Wars
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
The second title on this list will tell us some about what comes after, but maybe not much. If it’s Joker, then things should be going as expected, but if it’s Dolemite, then one of the others disappears and Once Upon a Time… could be the odd man out.
Bombshell, Dolemite, Downton, Joker, Judy, Little Women, Maleficent, 1917, Once Upon, Rocketman
Best Visual Effects
The first title out of the gate may make all the difference for The Lion King or Irishman or 1917. Alita: Battle Angel came on strong towards the end, so it could well be the first on the list. However, if it isn’t, then The Lion King takes its place in the third slot on the list. Most likely. No one knows for sure as Gemini Man and Terminator: Dark Fate both fit the pattern of traditional nominees in this category even if the category has shifted towards non-traditional in recent years.
Alita, Avengers, Captain, Cats, Gemini, Irishman, Lion King, 1917, Star Wars, Terminator
With Best Actor, there is one surprise that could happen at the beginning, but we might have to wait for the fourth or fifth slot to know who it is. Christian Bale is probably not getting nominated, meaning Antonio Banderas is leading off the list. If he doesn’t and De Niro or DiCaprio is first, things have probably gone a bit haywire. Taron Egerton and Eddie Murphy could appear third or fourth or both with Joaquin Phoenix rounding out the list. That said, if Phoenix is fourth, then either Jonathan Pryce or Adam Sandler score their first Oscar nominations with the latter the most likely based on the precursors. That said, if the first four slots are filled before Phoenix, then neither has any hope.
Bale, Banderas, De Niro, DiCaprio, Driver, Egerton, Jordan, Murphy, Phoenix, Pryce, Sandler
The big surprise will either happen first or likely never. Awkwafina and Cynthia Erivo, both well recognized this year, could be announced first and if they are, then Lupita Nyong’o or Saoirse Ronan will be the loser in that situation. Then again, if Scarlett Johansson is first, then the only available surprise is Alfre Woodard. That surprise will be known by the time we hit the third or fourth nominee, Charlize Theron. If she’s third, then it’s Woodard. If she’s fourth, then we’ve already had our surprise (if any) and Renee Zellweger will finish off the list.
Awkwafina, Erivo, Johansson, Nyong’o, Ronan, Theron, Woodard, Zellweger
Best Adapted Screenplay
The surprises also come fast and furious in this category with The Irishman leading off the list and, if not, we’ll know right away there’s a surprise. The question is if Dark Waters or Hustlers do make it in, who are they doing it at the expense of? Any one of the titles, really could be ignored, but The Two Popes is the most likely loser in that situation.
Dark Waters, Hustlers, Irishman, Jojo, Joker, Little Women, Popes
Best Original Screenplay
It was a really difficult choice to put The Farewell on this list and at the last minute I pulled that prediction. All of the rest of the contenders are largely expected and that makes the first slot the place we’ll know if there are any surprises. Should Booksmart starts things off, then Pain and Glory is probably gone. Knives Out coming first would indicate that either 1917, riding a huge wave of support for the film itself, or Pain and Glory are the next nominees. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear Pain and Glory announced fourth followed by Parasite.
Bombshell, Booksmart, Farewell, Ford, Knives, Marriage, 1917, Once Upon, Pain/Glory, Parasite, Us, Waves
Best Animated Feature
There aren’t a lot of major surprises, but the big one will likely be the first announcement as Abominable is one of only two films that could shock. The other is Klaus and we’ll know if that’s coming right in the middle. How to Train Your Dragon could be abandoned, but so too could Missing Link. The end of the list is likely toy Story 4.
Abominable, Addams, Angry, Another Day, Away, Buñuel, Children, Dilili, Frozen, Funan, Genndy, How to, I Lost, Klaus, Fiction, Lego, Marona, Missing, Ne Zha, Okko, Pachamama, Promare, Rezo, Secret, Spies, Swallows, Cake, Tower, Toy, Upin, Weathering, White
Best International Film
There are three sure things and a bunch of question marks. Atlantics, Pain and Glory, and Parasite are likely assured slots. The rest are in flux and knowing when you’ll know the other two could happen at any time, early on or late.
Atlantics, Beanpole, Corpus, Honeyland, Misérables, Pain/Glory, Painted, Parasite, Remained, Truth
There are only nine directors that anyone should expect to see here. There are the four locks, Scorsese, Mendes, Tarantino, and Bong. That leaves one slot and until they are announced, we won’t know for sure. This category is traditionally announced alphabetically by film title, so either 1917 heads off the list or comes in the middle because of alphabetizing. We’ll know early on whether the DGA five make it through. Irishman likely leads the list, then a big surprise will happen before Mendes and Tarantino. Either the Academy avoids being raked over the coals for a female-less slate by nominating Greta Gerwig second or they get the BAFTA treatment with a Twitter trend of #OscarsSoMale. That being said, she would absolutely be deserving of a nomination and I hope for their sake they don’t ignore her. She could also be third or fourth if there are a bunch of surprises. Taika Waititi could replicate his DGA nom and that would be the second announcement. Or Todd Phillips is second. A lot will be known on the second and third and fourth announcements. The surprise we’re all expecting though could come when the fourth title is announced. If Tarantino is third, then the surprise is Pedro Almodovar for Pain and Glory. Otherwise, Tarantino is fourth and Bong is fifth.
Farewell, Ford, Irishman, Jojo, Joker, Little Women, Marriage, 1917, Once Upon, Pain/Glory, Parasite, Popes, Us
Rather than discussing order here, let’s discuss quantity. Since the expansion to 5 or more nominees, there have never been fewer than eight nominations. We will know if that tradition continues by the first nominee read out. The Irishman going first will essentially mean that eight, or shockingly fewer, nominees are on the list as two of the more likely ninth and tenth nominees are The Farewell or Ford v Ferrari. Having said that, let’s discuss the likelihood of each candidate in the order they would be announced in.
The Farewell is Lulu Wang’s personal seriocomedy starring Awkwafina. If Awkwafina is nominated in Best Actress, the original screenplay is nominated, or Zhao Shuzhen is picked in Supporting Actress, this nomination becomes more likely. If none of them get nominated, this film is definitely out. It’s probably the weakest of my ten predictions.
Ford v Ferrari started out the season strong, but has faded quite a bit. Whether or not this is the first or second film announced might be guessed by how the film does in lower categories. Film Editing and either of the sound categories are the main places most consider this film to be fairly certain of nomination, but nominations in Original Score, Cinematography, and Best Actor (Christian Bale) could be bellwethers for this nomination. If the film gets shut out, obviously, it’s curtains. While a sole Film Editing citation seems unlikely for a Best Picture nominee, it really needs at least three or four other nominations to make it in here.
The Irishman and whether or not it earns a nomination is not up for debate. It will. Other category nominations might dictate its potential for winning the award, but none of them will really signal that the film isn’t being nominated.
Jojo Rabbit wants to continue the pattern of Toronto International Film Festival audience winners scoring Best Picture citations. If the film is shut out of the tech categories, there are few paths to a Best Picture nomination; however, if it picks up a handful (four or five), it is sure to be a Best Picture nominee. It would be a minor shock if the film was ignored.
Joker is one of those films that has audiences pleased and box office dollars rolling in, but has mainstream critics lukewarm on it. It has certainly not reached the level of acclaim of past Best Picture nominee Black Panther, but a small, dedicated fanbase will get it nominated. The strength of its chances will be dictated by four to five categories. Directing, Original Score, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and/or Cinematography. It could still make the final list by missing any one of these, but if more than a couple fail to materialize, the film could as well.
Knives Out has been a box office success and critics enjoyed it. That said, there are far too many contenders this year for the film to be taken terribly seriously. If it gets nominations outside of either Original Screenplay or Production Design, then its Best Picture potential soars.
Little Women is the biggest question mark of the season. All of the guilds have been hostile to the film, which is surprising considering it’s one of the best reviewed films of the year. It’s also proving to be a sizable box office hit, now approaching $70 million (probably by the end of the weekend) and possibly topping $100 million if it keeps up its current trajectory. A Best Picture nomination would certainly help those prospects, as would double-digit nominations. That said, its potency hinges on two categories, Directing and Actress. It needs to be nominated in both categories or risk being left off the Best Picture slate. Of course, Carol did incredibly well below the line, but never materialized in Best Picture, much to the Academy’s detriment. That said, if the film starts racking up countless nominations below the line, then its Best Picture berth is paid for.
Marriage Story is one of the films that’s assured a nomination. With three likely acting nominations and an Original Screenplay nod, there aren’t many places that the film could miss. Its inclusion in other races will be the film’s best hope of developing a Best Picture winner’s narrative. Nominations for Directing and Film Editing would help tremendously.
1917. Again, no one knows where this title will be announced until the announcements start going. That said, this film is one of the guaranteed slots in Best Picture and everyone would be shocked if it missed. The film’s big question is if it can pull in double-digit nominations and that possibility is looking more than likely.
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood gets a slot no matter what. It’s one of the three most likely titles to earn double-digit nominations and it probably will because of its period setting. The film’s prospects for a Best Picture victory increase with two acting nominations.
Pain and Glory has been one of the most frequently cited foreign films of the year and that could translate into a Best Picture selection. That said, the film must earn both an Original Screenplay and Actor (Antonio Banderas) nominations to get into the Best Picture race. Most likely the film gets both and then an International Film nomination, but doesn’t show up anywhere else.
Parasite didn’t seem certain for most of the year, then the critics fell in line behind it and it’s now unstoppable. Not only will it score a Best Picture nomination, that popularity could pull it along into a number of categories one might not have thought possible, including Supporting Actor, Original Song, Cinematography, and Production Design. While it isn’t likely to best Roma‘s take last year, it could easily become one of the most nominated foreign language films in history.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire might not seem like your regular Best Picture contender, but this film has been nominated so frequently that it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see it land an unexpected slot on the Best Picture list. That said, it needs nominations in writing and cinematography to even be considered and since it can’t place in International Film, a Directing citation might just spell inclusion, but that all seems quite unlikely this year.
The Two Popes would appeal to a lot of older voters in the Academy and could be a way for them to say that the Academy doesn’t hate religion as much as conservatives think. That said, there’s little evidence to suggest it’s even close to scoring a nomination and it would need to place in both Actor and Supporting Actor for me to even believe in the possibility. Then again, a Directing nomination might change that opinion quite quickly. If it misses out on Adapted Screenplay, it’s pretty much out of the race.
Uncut Gems is the little indie that could. The Safdie brothers have never come close to the Oscars before, but this film has been widely praised and heavily nominated this season. It’s even positioning Adam Sandler as a Best Actor nominee. If that doesn’t happen, neither does this. If Actor occurs and Film Editing also makes the list, the film could very well sneak into the competition.
Us didn’t gain the level of traction Jordan Peele’s prior film did, but it’s still been quite well received and has picked up several nominations along the way. If the film does not make the list in Original Score or Original Screenplay, I wouldn’t really expect to see it here.
Farewell, Ford, Irishman, Jojo, Joker, Knives, Little Women, Marriage, 1917, Once Upon, Pain/Glory, Parasite, Portrait, Popes, Uncut, Us
And that’s everything for this year. I feel a bit like I rushed through some of these and I apologize if they don’t make 100% sense. However, this is where things stand. To read my regular comments on each category, follow the link above to our contributors’ final predictions.