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Nods and snubs: Predicting the Oscar nominations

The Oscar nominations will be announced Monday morning at 5:18 a.m. (no, that is not a typo).
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2017 file photo, Oscar statuettes appear backstage at the Oscars in Los Angeles. Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

PORTLAND, Ore. — We're almost into the home stretch of awards season.

The awkward weeks between the Golden Globe ceremony and the Academy Award nominations are a chance to re-calibrate nomination predictions through the lens of who the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored and who it snubbed. Granted, the Academy voters are a much larger bloc than the HFPA and are made up of the nominees' actual peers, the Golden Globes are undeniably a kind of "rough draft" of what to expect come Monday morning when we finally learn which films make the cut.

So without any further ado, and with absolutely no access, here are my nomination predictions for the major categories of the 92nd Academy Awards.

The Oscar nominations will be announced Monday morning at 5:18 a.m. (no, that is not a typo).

Best Animated Feature

One of the biggest surprises of the Golden Globes might have been the come-from-behind win of Missing Link, from Portland's own Laika Studios. It was the only original story nominated in a field of sequels and remakes, including Disney power-houses like Frozen 2, The Lion King, and Toy Story 4.

This category can get a little wonky, especially when there are dark horse foreign-language animated films in the mix that few people in the United States have seen, but I'm predicting we will see a similar field to what we saw during the Globes.

My predictions

  • Frozen 2
  • Missing Link
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
  • The Lion King
  • Toy Story 4

Don't rule out

  • Abominable

Best International Film

This category is often packed with films the average movie-goer has never even heard of. Not so this year. Parasite is one of the most talked-about films of the year among both casual viewers and critics alike. Pain and Glory, although not quite the powerhouse Parasite was, performed admirably at the box office, thanks likely in part to the reputation and name recognition of both lead actor Antonio Banderas and director Pedro Almodóvar.

The category was recently renamed Best International Film from Best Foreign Language Film. The change is a cosmetic one, seeing as the category's rules are the same. One of those rules states that only one film can be submitted per country and the United States cannot submit. But that leads to weird situations, like this year. Lulu Wang's fantastic movie The Farewell cannot qualify because it was released by the United States, even though it is almost entirely in Mandarin. But, conversely, during the Golden Globes, it couldn't qualify for Best Picture - Musical/Comedy because it was considered a foreign language film. Insanity!

As for the films that can be considered, I narrowed down the Academy's own shortlist based on what films seem to have the most buzz going into the final stretch.

My predictions

  • Parasite (South Korea)
  • Pain & Glory (Spain)
  • Les Misérables (France)
  • Honeyland (North Macedonia)
  • Atlantics (Senegal)

Best Adapted Screenplay

No longer just the category of serious-books-turned-movies (hello, Emma Thompson and Sense and Sensibility), several of the potential nominees in this category this year are based on magazine articles. Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a true story based on Tom Junod's 2017 Esquire article warmly detailing his life-changing encounter with Fred Rogers. Likewise, New York Magazine featured an article by Jessica Pressler in 2015 that provided the source material for Jennifer Lopez's brilliant antics in Hustlers.

But barring an upset, I feel like both of those films are unlikely nominees because this category is often a harbinger for a Best Picture nod, which I just don't see those films receiving (but I'm getting ahead of myself).

My predictions

  • Steven Zaillion (The Irishman)
  • Anthony McCarten (The Two Popes)
  • Greta Gerwig (Little Women)
  • Todd Phillips, Scott Silver (Joker)
  • Taika Waititi, Christine Leunens (Jojo Rabbit)

Don't rule out

  • Tom Junod, Noah Harpster, Micah Fitzerman (Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
  • Jessica Pressler, Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers)

Best Original Screenplay

Is it a coincidence that every screenwriter on this list is also their film's director? Maybe. But I don't think so. Trimming this list down to five films took years off my life. It's an absolute bloodbath. So instead of slobbering all over them, I'll just share my predictions.

My picks

  • Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood)
  • Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)
  • Rian Johnson (Knives Out)
  • Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)
  • Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917)

Don't rule out

  • Pedro Almodóvar (Pain and Glory)
  • Lulu Wang (The Farewell)

Best Supporting Actor

Speaking of bloodbaths. The sheer star power that makes up this year's Supporting Actor category is staggering, making this one of the most brutally competitive categories of the year. I see Brad Pitt, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino as absolute locks, meaning that this is a slugfest for the fourth and fifth slots. Tom Hanks and Anthony Hopkins both portrayed real people (Fred Rogers and Pope Benedict XVI, respectively) who match both actors in terms of name-recognition and, in Hank's case at least, congeniality. That may help them, but I suspect the Academy might have some surprises up its sleeves, hence my picks.

My picks

  • Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood)
  • Joe Pesci (The Irishman)
  • Al Pacino (The Irishman)
  • Sterling K. Brown (Waves)
  • Kang-ho Song (Parasite)

Don't rule out

  • Tom Hanks (Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood)
  • Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes)

Long shot

  • Matt Damon (Ford v Ferrari)

Best Supporting Actress

Let's get this out of the way early: Jennifer Lopez absolutely deserves to be nominated for her role in Hustlers, but may very well get snubbed. I don't think she will be, but I just want everybody to prepare themselves before they get their hopes up and then the Academy inevitably crushes their hopes and dreams in a Green Book-like wave of spite and detachment.

Now that that's out of the way, we can talk about how amazing the women in this category are. Many, like Lopez and Laura Dern, are household names that may finally get what they've long deserved. However, none of them have had quite as good a year as Florence Pugh who went from a virtual nobody to millennial dream girl. But we may be surprised by Zhao Shuzhen, an unknown in the United States, who turned out one of the warmest performance of the year as a beloved grandmother in The Farewell.

My picks

  • Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
  • Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers)
  • Florence Pugh (Little Women)
  • Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
  • Zhao Shuzhen (The Farewell)

Don't rule out

  • Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell)
  • Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit)

Best Director

Lately, this category has been subject to extraordinary scrutiny, and rightly so. Two of the best films of the year were directed by women and yet they may be two of the biggest long shots to make the shortlist. Directing isn't quite the boys club as it used to be, but it often is for a voting bloc made up of lots and lots of old white men and no amount of Twitter-pressure can change that.

Don't get mad at my predictions. Get mad at the patriarchy.

My picks

  • Sam Mendes (1917)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood)
  • Martin Scorsese (The Irishman)
  • Bong Joon Ho (Parasite)
  • Todd Phillips (Joker)

Don't rule out

  • Greta Gerwig (Little Women)
  • Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story)
  • Rian Johnson (Knives Out)
  • Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit)

Long shots

  • Pedro Almodóvar (Pain and Glory)
  • Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
  • Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie (Uncut Gems)

Best Actor

As Michael Keaton's Bruce Wayne said in 1989's Batman, "You wanna get nuts? Come on! Let's get nuts!" That's how I feel predicting this category. It's a mess. It's not fair. It's indicative of how flawed and silly award ceremonies can be. It's proof of how our definitions of a "good performance" vary from person to person; to some, it's the loud, the unusual, the consumed (Joaquin Phoenix, Taron Egerton) while to others it's the burning, the quiet, the subtle (Adam Driver, Antonio Banderas).

The truth is, they're all good and award ceremonies are inherently flawed. But this is the system we have to work with, so, without any further ado, let's gets nuts.

My picks

  • Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
  • Adam Driver (Marriage Story)
  • Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood)
  • Robert DeNiro (The Irishman)

Don't rule out

  • Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari)
  • Taron Egerton (Rocketman)
  • Eddie Murphy (Dolemite is my Name)
  • Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems)

Long shots

  • Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit)
  • Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)

Best Actress

This category is substantially less nuts than Best Actor, and one woman in particular appears to have had a lock on a nomination (and probably a win) from day one. Renée Zellweger's Judy Garland has received rave reviews, even though the film itself was widely considered to be...fine. On the other hand, Scarlett Johansson, Saoirse Ronan, and Awkwafina all turned in uniquely powerful performances in three of the year's best films.

It's a shame that the Academy will likely pass over Lupita Nyong'o's twisted dual-performance in Us, but, hey, maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised!

My picks

  • Renée Zellweger (Judy)
  • Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story)
  • Saoirse Ronan (Little Women)
  • Awkwafina (The Farewell)
  • Charlize Theron (Bombshell)

Don't rule out

  • Lupita Nyong'o (Us)
  • Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)

Best Picture

Predicting this category has become an exercise in editing oneself. Do you stop at five, like the Academy did, until the unforgivable snub of The Dark Knight in 2008? Or do you split the difference and pick a safe seven or eight? Or do you just go absolutely crazy and list 10 of the best films of the year?

The films that ultimately make this list aren't the surprise. The real surprises are the films that don't.

This year, I see five locks. 1917 is absolutely a contender after its dark horse win at the Golden Globes. The Irishman and Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood are sure-things, and either could go all the way. Marriage Story and Joker will be nominated, but a win seems less likely.

So after those five, it comes down to which films make the cut and which don't.

My picks

  • 1917
  • Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
  • The Irishman
  • Joker
  • Marriage Story
  • Parasite
  • The Farewell
  • Jojo Rabbit

Don't rule out

  • Knives Out
  • The Two Popes
  • Little Women
  • Uncut Gems
  • Pain and Glory
  • Bombshell

Long shots

  • Richard Jewell
  • Ford v Ferrari

Issa Rae and John Cho announced the Academy Award nominations bright and early on Monday, at the oddly specific time of 5:18 a.m. Here's a look at the full list.

The Academy Awards ceremony is on Feb. 9 at 5 p.m.

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