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Who will be the biggest winner at the 2020 Academy Awards?
By Daphne K. Lee, Bill Tou, Victor Wang
Film lovers enjoyed a great year of cinema in 2019, with an impressive roster of films competing for the season finale — the Academy Award on Sunday, February 9. The News Lens editors have come together to predict the winners in the Oscars. While we think it's unlikely for Parasite to win Best Picture, it will certainly bring home several awards.
Here's a list of our predicted winners in 13 categories.
Best Picture: 1917
1917 caught the tail end of the awards season and joined a very competitive race. It's up against Netflix's The Irishman, Palme d'Or winner Parasite, and Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood.
Set in the backdrop of World War I, 1917 impressed with a simple story of heroism in a single, continuous take. It also provided the perfect solution to the Academy members who were stuck between a Netflix original and a non-English film.
The Producers Guild of America Award, often seen as the most accurate forecaster for Oscar winners, also selected 1917 for Best Picture. In the past decade alone, the PGA Award has predicted correctly eight out of 10 times. Although we're also rooting for Parasite, we don't think the Academy is ready to drop that big of a surprise.
Best Director: Sam Mendes, 1917
It takes a crazy director to think of portraying the trench warfare in one long take.
To create the illusion of a single continuous shot, Sam Mendes had to plan the entire set months ahead down. Every step had to be calculated to match the exact length of a scene before anything is built; even the dialogue had to be rehearsed on the set for precision. In one seemingly continuous take, Mendes told a "real-time" story with an ever-changing landscape and various pacing.
Last month, he also won the Directors Guild of America Award, a bellwether for the Oscars' Best Director. Since 1949, 90 percent of the DGA-winning directors have also brought home the Oscars. Mendes will not be an exception.
Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
In a world full of Jokers, Joaquin Phoenix has breathed a new life into the evil character. We can get carried away in his transformative performance as he vividly portrayed someone with mental illness. To fully immerse himself in the character, Phoenix had to lose 52 pounds for the role and partly let go of his sanity.
Phoenix has been nominated three times prior to Joker and this would be his first win.
Best Actress: Renée Zellweger, Judy
The Academy tends to favor biographical films and Judy strikes the perfect chord. Renée Zellweger played a Judy Garland who has plunged from stardom into darkness. She has previously won an Oscar for best supporting actress for Cold Mountain, and we bet she will win her first best actress trophy this year.
Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
In the fairytale of Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood, if Leonardo DiCaprio's Rick Darlton represents the present, Margot Robbie's Sharon Tate represents the future, Brad Pitt's Cliff Booth symbolizes the past.
Pitt played a stuntman who struggles to find work in Hollywood, all while beating up Bruce Lee (which would be impossible in real life) and pushing into a hippie wasteland. We follow him around the '60s Hollywood and it's hard not to fall for his nonchalant smirks.
His pit bull in the film also deserves a best-supporting dog award, seriously.
Best Supporting Actress: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Laura Dern shone in Marriage Story with her role as divorce lawyer Nora Fanshaw and her standout monologue about the difficulties of being a woman and a mother. As the husband and wife were still contemplating how to separate peacefully, Dern just whooshed in with the ugly truth about divorces. Compared to the other nominees, Dern has an obvious chance of winning.
Best International Feature: Parasite
No surprise here. The Cannes Palme d'Or winner will definitely win Best International Feature, as it has already swept dozen other prizes for its screenplay prior to the Oscars.
Best Animated Feature: Klaus
This category is a competition between Klaus and Toy Story 4. Both films have earned different awards, but Klaus told a more emotionally complex story that went beyond race and language to explain the meaning behind Christmas. It has also received a lot more praise than Toy Story 4 toward the end of the awards season.
Best Original Screenplay: Parasite, Bong Joon Ho & Han Jin Won
We have nothing but admiration for the Parasite screenplay: the poor family who wants to reap benefits from the rich becomes a parasitic existence and ends up being swallowed by greed. The class conflict, the ugly human nature, and the "smell" that almost jumps out from the screen — almost every element serves as a prophetic warning for the modern capitalist society, leaving the audience speechless.
We're a fan of Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, too. But Parasite has already won Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards and the British Academy Film Awards, inching much closer toward the Oscars.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi
A combination of Nazism and cuteness sounds odd, but Jojo Rabbit has successfully charmed the audience with its humor. Jojo Rabbit reminded us of the tragicomedy Life Is Beautiful, but even more of an emotional rollercoaster.
Best Film Editing: Ford v Ferrari, Michael McCusker & Andrew Buckland
In its 2.5-hour runtime, Ford v Ferrari never lost the attention of its audience. Its 90-minute racing sequence of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans made us feel like we're a professional car racer in the historic competition. We can immerse in the full speed of the legendary race car Ford GT40 via the ultra-precise editing.
Best Cinematography: 1917, Roger Deakins
The Academy is always fond of cinematographers who have a talent for continuous uninterrupted shots. Emmanuel Lubezki has taken home the award for Best Cinematography in three consecutive years: 2013's Gravity, 2014's Birdman, and 2015's The Revenant.
Now, Roger Deakins has also challenged the same technique to deliver the reality and pain on the battlefields. We can't stop savoring the final run in 1917, where George McKay climbed out of the trench and started sprinting along the battlefield. The chaotic scene was happening in real-time, yet it was all captured in one uninterrupted shot with timed explosions and an accidental collision.
Deakins perfectly timed the camera's movement according to the explosions, the moment when the extras poured into the battlefield, and the speed at which McKay was dashing forward. This scene alone will not only earn Deakins an Oscar, but also a moment in cinematic history. He had previously been nominated a dozen times and finally won his first Oscar with Blade Runner 2049, and he's well on his way to his second golden trophy.
Best Original Score: Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir
John Williams has been nominated for the 52nd time with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Meanwhile, Thomas Newman (1917) is up against his cousin Randy Newman (Marriage Story), but the cousins will most likely lose to the Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir.
Guðnadóttir's compositions for Joker underscored the character's loneliness and repressed emotions. She has also received recognition from the Golden Globe and BAFTA, and will likely win the Oscar for Best Original Score this year.
Following the previous Oscars race between Roma and Green Book, the 2020 Oscars will be a toss between 1917 and Parasite — a battle between "tradition" and "groundbreaker." Will a single-take war tale told from the perspective of two unknown soldiers impress the Academy voters? Or will a Korean film with a multi-layered plot make history? We will stay tuned for the final results on February 10, 9 a.m. (GMT+8).
READ NEXT: 'Parasite' Makes Another Leap for South Korea's Cultural Economy
TNL Editor: Jeremy Van der Haegen (@thenewslensintl)
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