Oscars 2020: Which films should we be looking out for?

JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Arthur Fleck in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative’s “JOKER,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Arthur Fleck in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative’s “JOKER,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. /
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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Brad Pitt stars in Columbia Pictures Once Upon a Time in Hollywood /

The home stretch

What makes this Oscar season particularly interesting is the variety of frontrunners in the hunt for Oscar gold. Firstly, we have Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to cinema, Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, which broke onto the scene in July and hasn’t let up since. Tarantino, an Oscar favorite ever since Pulp Fiction in 1994, has become a regular at the event, with his last three movies all winning Oscars in some capacity and with a giant star-driven film like Hollywood, there’s no doubting that he’ll make another appearance this year.

For starters, Brad Pitt’s chill performance as stuntman Cliff Booth has earned widespread acclaim with critic’s groups and mainstream awards outlets, including a nomination at the Golden Globes. Same with Leonardo DiCaprio, who hopes to bag his second Oscar after The Revenant  and looks to be in a position to nail another Best Actor nomination.

Coupled with Tarantino’s strong chances at both a Directing and Screenplay nomination and we have a classic “film about film” that is sure to make its way to the Best Picture crowd.

On the opposite side of the Tarantino comedy, we have the new Sam Mendes war drama, 1917, stirring up serious awards buzz ahead of its official release. Having won an Oscar for American Beauty, Mendes has enjoyed a lengthy career since then and with Skyfall under his resume, now he has the chance to craft his wholly unique war film, which is shot to look as though it’s in one take, Birdman-style.

For that reason alone, the cinematography by Roger Deakins is almost guaranteed to win Best Cinematography this year, but Mendes himself seems poised for a Directing nomination after his Golden Globe nomination. It’s honestly a no-brainer for Best Director, given just how meticulous a project like this must’ve been.

Its technical mastery will surely land it some technical Oscar nominations and after the GG announcements, count on it to enter the Best Picture race running. The Academy loves a good war movie and this looks to be no different.

Marriage Story
Marriage Story – Credit: Wilson Webb /

Back on the topic of Netflix, the streaming giant continues to prove themselves on the big stage with their distribution of two highly acclaimed Oscar frontrunners, the first of the two being the new Noah Baumbach drama, Marriage Story. A drama focusing on the divorce process between two loving parents, Baumbach has stricken a chord with audiences for his realistic take on the divorce process and the ripple effect it can have on your closest loved ones.

It’s this connection that has garnered Marriage Story strong Oscar buzz, the strongest being the performances from Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver, and Laura Dern and the film’s screenplay, which are all guaranteed to at least get nominated in their respective categories after additional buzz from their Golden Globe nominations. This positions Baumbach’s drama to be one of the leading contenders for Best Picture, further solidifying its chances at Oscar gold.

But another Netflix film could get in the way of that and that’s The Irishman, the latest mob drama from the legendary Martin Scorsese. Coming under fire recently for his remarks on MCU films, Scorsese has always managed to find himself to be the topic of today’s conversation and with latest 3 hour epic becoming one of Netflix’s biggest hits of the year, it all but guarantees that Scorsese will make his return to the Oscars this year after his previous success with The Wolf of Wall Street.

The film’s leading actors, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, have all garnered widespread acclaim for their performances and all of them are near-shoe-ins for Best Actor and Supporting Actor, respectively. Pesci in particular has won various Supporting Actor awards from awards outlets and is arguably the leading man in the category for the time being.

Scorsese himself is also building up hype for a Best Director nomination and the film has already acquired several Best Picture awards as of now. The Oscar for Best Picture isn’t completely out of the question at this point either.

JOAQUIN PHOENIX as Arthur Fleck in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative’s “JOKER,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. /

But as we shift to talking about truly unlikely frontrunners, we can’t just not mention Todd Phillips’ surprisingly successful comic book drama, Joker. The film had already gained waves of support from audiences hungry to see the origin story of arguably the most iconic comic book villain of all time, but after its success at Venice Film Festival with its shocking Golden Lion win, Joker became THE talk of Oscar season and that doesn’t look like it’ll slow down anytime soon.

Joaquin Phoenix’s near-universally acclaimed performance as the Clown Prince of Crime has firmly established the prolific actor as the undeniable favorite heading into the Oscars. After its strong presence at the Golden Globe nomination announcement, he is essentially locked for a Best Actor nomination, as is the film itself for Best Picture.

The film could also surprise with potential nominations for Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, and Original Score, making this comic book film a true anomaly in the sea of CBMs.

But before we close things off, it would be foolish for me not to mention another unlikely contender for the Oscars and that would be the unique class warfare dark comedy, Parasite. Hailing from South Korea, Parasite has been making headlines of its own after its blistering success at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the Golden Palm in the process. Its popularity continued through its festival run in the fall and has recently made even more headlines by boasting the highest per-theater average of the entire year, matching the initial success of La La Land back in 2016.

Parasite movie: The Kim Family Woo-sik Choi Kang-ho Song Hye-jin Jang So-dam Park in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv
Parasite movie: The Kim Family Woo-sik Choi Kang-ho Song Hye-jin Jang So-dam Park in Parasite. Photo via EPK.tv /

Now in the heat of Oscar season, Parasite is acquiring various accolades, including some for Best Picture and a bunch for director Bong Joon-ho, who is slowly developing into the leading director for a Best Director nomination and win. The storied filmmaker has built a strong reputation in South Korea and now America is getting its first true taste of Joon-ho. Its wild story could also propel it into a Best Original Screenplay nomination and with its success ongoing, we may see it garner that evasive Best Picture nomination that has escaped Bong’s grasp for too long. Better late than never!

Next. Golden Globes: The Crown's biggest snub. dark

These are my predictions for the Oscars, but what are yours? Are there any films you think I might’ve missed? If so, sound off in the comments!