Nonstop Nerd’s 2020 Oscar Picks

92nd-Academy-Awards-600-

It’s almost that time again when we celebrate the best films of the year; the Academy Awards. It’s always an exciting time to bear witness to some of Hollywood’s and pop culture’s biggest moments from the past year. Attempting to guess the winners is part of the fun of this annual televised event, so I listed my picks for each category for this year’s big show below. I also plan on posting a follow-up article right here on Nonstop Nerd reflecting on how my picks did after the Academy Awards premiere. Here’s a complete list of all the nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards: https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2020.

Here are my personal predictions for this year’s Academy Awards:

Actor in a Leading Role

Joaquin Phoenix is the obvious choice for his outstanding performance as Arthur Fleck in Joker. Phoenix brought new life to the character, and his performance kept the whole movie afloat. If anyone else was chosen for the role, the film simply wouldn’t have been as great. Adam Driver proved that he has what it takes to join the ranks of talent who have been around longer with his performance in Marriage Story and probably would have won in a different year for it, but it’s not quite the callbur of performance that Phoenix gave us. Phoenix deserves this Oscar for giving one of the best performances of all time.

joker-trailer

Actor in a Supporting Role

I’m definitely thinking Tom Hanks is the right choice for Best Actor is a Supporting Role. The main reason for this is that, even though he is the supporting actor in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the film is mostly about his character of Fred Rogers and he’s the one carrying the movie. He completely steals the spotlight and is one of the main elements that attracted people to the film. Al Pacino completely stands out in every scene of The Irishman he appears in as Jimmy Hoffa, but Hanks’ performance in A Beautiful Day is the Neighborhood stands out just a little bit more.

Actress in a Leading Role

This is certainly a tough choice this year, but my choice for best actress is Saoirse Ronan for her role as Jo in Little Women. I would have said Cynthia Erivo for her role as the titular historic figure in Harriet, but a particular monologue that Ronan gives toward the end of Little Women completely won me over. I know that Scarlett Johansson is a fan-favorite, but she typically has trouble showing emotion. I will say that Marriage Story showed me that she can be expressive and convinced me she can be an incredible actress. However, none of the other nominees could top Saoirse Ronan’s outstanding performance. She conveys the wittiness of the classic literary character while also showing a rather wide range of emotion. Ronan easily convinces the audience that she is Jo, and for that, she deserves the Oscar.

Saoirse Ronan (Finalized)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Also for her role in Little Women, Florence Pugh should win the Academy Award for Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. Her performance as Amy stood out from other performances in the film, and from other nominees this year, by taking a bratty character and convincing the audience to truly care for her. Pugh is able to make audiences both laugh and cry with this role, showcasing her great talent.

Animated Feature Film

This feels close to a three-way tie between Klaus, Toy Story 4, and Missing Link in my opinion. However, I have to choose Klaus as my pick for Best Animated Feature Film this year. I know, it’s a bit of an underdog choice, but hear me out. Missing Link was great and has the most seamless stop-motion animated movement I have ever seen. However, its story isn’t exactly the most original. Other movies made by Laika, like Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings are better movies and weren’t able to win this prestigious award, so why would this one? Toy Story 4 is incredible, emotional, and uses extremely well-detailed animation, but it’s not even the best of the Toy Story movies.

Klaus was a surprise hit and an absolute delight. Not only is it a good modern Christmas movie that will now be a must-watch for me every year, but it’s the best animated movie of the year in my opinion. It uses traditional hand-drawn animation that has a unique style to it. It shows us what Disney could do if they didn’t abandon their old, beloved 2D animation style. Klaus tells an original and unique story about the origin of Santa Claus with interesting world-building, hilarious humor, and a heartfelt story. It absolutely should win for Best Animated Feature Film.

Klaus

Cinematography

The Cinematography in Joker stands high above the rest as it plays a big part in the film’s plot. After the movie’s release, director Todd Phillips revealed that there are hints in the cinematography as to whether certain events actually took place or were just figments of Arthur’s imagination. The cinematography is also used to create powerful imagery, like the colorful Joker surrounded by a bleak, gray city, or an overly crowded and colorful train car feeling chaotic. The frame of the Joker dancing down the stairs in probably one of the most iconic shots in recent years. Joker easily deserves this win.

Costume Design

Jojo Rabbit is a clear front-runner for the Oscar for Achievement in Costume Design. Well, I would have chosen Rocketman for recreating Elton John’s lavish on-stage outfits, but that was unfortunately not nominated. The costumes in Jojo Rabbit, though, were just as outstanding. Between the military uniforms, the old-school German attire, Rosie’s iconic shoes, the cardboard robot costume that Jojo wears while collecting metals, and that crazy uniform that Sam Rockwell dons toward the end of the film, the costumes easily grab the eye of any audience member. Rosie’s shoes being recognized and Elsa switching outfits to trick Nazis are both examples of the costumes being important to the plot. The costume designers also managed to make Taika Waititi look shockingly like Adolf Hitler. Jojo Rabbit should be used as a go-to example for great costume design going forward.

Jojo-Rabbit

Directing

There is barely any doubt in my mind that 1917 deserves the win for Best Directing. The suspense and drama of war is showcased exceptionally well throughout the film. More impressively, the movie is directed in a way to cause it to appear filmed entirely in a single, seamless shot. I would be shocked if 1917 doesn’t win based on that daunting feat alone.

Documentary (Feature)

In my opinion, this one’s between Honeyland, The Cave, and For Sama. These are definitely the three best in the category this year. Since I have to pick one, I have to give it to Honeyland. Honeyland uses a single topic (bee keeping) to discuss several others like climate change, biodiversity loss, exploitation of natural resources, and how consumerism impacts the environment. It’s also an interesting character story of Hatidze Muratova. Not only is the content interesting, but it’s beautifully shot. The Cave is the most powerful content-wise, but the production side of it does not hold a torch to Honeyland. Honeyland deserves the win because of its combination of powerful content and masterful production. Plus, it’s the first movie to ever be nominated for both Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature Film.

Documentary (Short Subject)

This is definitely one of the toughest categories, but I think Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) will take the award. A good documentary succeeds in both the production side of filmmaking and how it covers the topic being discussed. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) does this much better than the other nominees. The others are strong with one or the other, like Life Overtakes Me is emotional and informative, but the production team didn’t do too much to hold interest. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) matches that emotion and informativeness, but it also uses impressive camera work and editing. I think it’ll win because of it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the others does since they are all must-see films.

Film Editing

First off, how in the world is 1917 not nominated for Achievement in Film Editing? It was edited cleverly to make the film appear to be done all in a single shot. It’s the most impressive editing out of any movie this year. Since it’s unfortunately not nominated, the winner has got to be Joker. It’s edited in a way to match the tone of the story, whether it’s slow and emotional with very few cuts, or it’s fast-paced and suspenseful with a lot of quick cuts. It helps the audience feel the exact emotions the filmmakers intended to convey. The editing actually adds to the film’s story. Because of this, Joker should win for Achievement in Film Editing.

International Feature Film

If Parasite also being nominated for Best Picture is any indication, it’ll probably win for Best International Feature Film as well. The themes of social class differences and greed both make this film feel incredibly powerful. It’s also crazy and unpredictable compared to most other movies. I definitely don’t see Parasite losing for Best International Feature Film.

parasite

Makeup and Hairstyling

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is the only nominee that has makeup or hair styling that catches my eye. Judy does a little bit because of how extravagant it is, but not quite as much as Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. For this film, the makeup artists prove their talents by making it look like the bone structure of Angelina Jolie’s face is completely changed. The fantasy makeup on her and other characters add to the aesthetic of this magical realm, helping to bring this whimsical world to life. It’s a true feat in makeup artistry, proving that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil deserves the win for this category.

Music (Original Score)

This is one of the toughest categories this year. Each nominee has a fantastic score, and I wouldn’t be surprised if any one of them wins. However, my pick for Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score) is Little Women. 1917’s score is a bit bland compared to the others. Joker has a good score, but there’s not a lot of variety to it. One of the best parts of Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker is its score. However, much of the soundtrack uses John William’s music from previous Star Wars movies, making it not-so-original. That leaves us with Marriage Story and Little Women, and Little Women’s is a bit better in my opinion. It’s upbeat when it needs to be and more emotional at the right moments. It always matches the tone of the scene. It’s an especially great film score. Each nominee may be a strong choice for this category, but Little Women is the strongest.

Music (Original Song)

The nominees for this category are pretty diverse this year. They range from fun and upbeat to sad and dramatic. That being said, “Stand Up” from Harriet is my choice to win the Academy Award for Original Song. “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4 may be a good song about self love, but it’s pretty goofy. “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough shows off how talented Chrissy Metz is as a singer, but it’s extremely repetitive. “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II is good, but not even as good as the song from the first Frozen movie. “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman is both fun and an important song about self love, and would have been my pick if it weren’t for “Stand Up.”

“Stand Up” from Harriet is sung from the point of view of Harriet Tubman about everything she has done for other people. It is more than powerful. This song has to win for Best Original Song this year.

Production Design

I can see this one going to a few of the nominees, but since I have to pick only one, it’ll have to be Jojo Rabbit. I thought about choosing 1917 because of its impressive war set pieces, but Jojo Rabbit has that and much more. The German town, both inside and outside the houses, are bright and optimistic, adding to the rather unconventional tone for a WWII movie. The interior of Jojo’s house is realistically cluttered, like someone actually lives there. The inside of Elsa’s “room” tells the viewer a lot about the character and her past life. The destruction is Germany caused by the battle at the end of the film is incredible. It conveys a tone shift while still feeling cohesive with the rest of the movie. The production design team managed to pull off very different kinds of sets in one movie, with a lot of close attention to detail. It’s all impressive enough to give Jojo Rabbit the win.

Short Film (Animated)

Kitbull is the obvious choice for Best Animated Short Film. The other nominees, like Hair Love, use unique animation styles and are chock-full of vivid emotion, but none are on the same level as Kitbull. Going into Kitbull, I thought it was just going to be a cute story about a cat and a dog. However, it soon shows how dark it is. It uses pleasant visuals and covers a tragic and very real issue to convey a theme of being kind to and not judging others based on their past or their hardships. It does all this in just nine minutes as well! Kitbull blew me away and should win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

kitbull

Short Film (Live Action)

This is one of the tougher categories this year, but NEFTA Football Club should come out on top in my opinion. It’s definitely a close one, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if any of the nominees take this one. However, NEFTA Football Club impressed me the most. It offers suspense, drama, humor, and fun all in just seventeen minutes. Even though some of the events are more adult, like illegal drug trade, the theme of childhood innocence is enough to make anyone gain enjoyment out of it. The contrast adds an element of dark humor that doesn’t take things too far. It’s well shot and rather creative. I thoroughly enjoyed The Neighbor’s Window and A Sister, but it was NEFTA Football Club that won me over the most.

Sound Editing

1917 should easily take home the award for Achievement is Sound Editing. The gunshots and explosions are almost overly loud, further adding to the film’s realism. Each gunshot sound feels like a true threat, like an actual gunshot. Even the panting of the characters running is vividly heard. There’s a scene where one of the protagonists hears singing in the distance and follows it. As he comes closer to it, it becomes louder and clearer. It’s all beautifully captured. The sound editing in 1917 is especially impressive, which is why it deserves the win.

Sound Mixing

Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood is the most likely nominee to win for Achievement in Sound Mixing. Each sound effect, whether it be a crazed hippy yelling in a pool or a burst of a flamethrower, is blended together masterfully. Everything is heard vividly and clearly. Even though there are several scenes with a lot going on in them, each sound is heard without drowning out others. It’s pretty clear that Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood should win for Achievement in Sound Mixing.

Visual Effects

The nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects are certainly a strange list this year. The Lion King remake is nominated, but it really shouldn’t be. It uses hyper-realistic animation, but that’s still animation. If anything, it should be nominated for animation, not visual effects. Plus, there are some shots where the animation doesn’t hold up. Avengers: Endgame also doesn’t deserve the nomination. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and many of the effects are outstanding. However, there are a lot of effects that are cringe-worthy, like the alien horde’s old-school video game look or Captain Marvel becoming a glowing cartoon mess. The Irishman is nominated for its de-aging technology, which, even though it’s great, isn’t quite perfected yet.

That leads me to the two best nominees for Visual Effects: 1917 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. 1917’s effects are impressive. The explosions and planes crashing feel real, and the other effects add to how impressive the single-shot style is. However, the best visual effects out of the movies nominated belong to Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker. It blends traditional effects and CGI seamlessly, bringing the galaxy far far away to life. It uses robotics, puppeteering, makeup, and different styles of animation. Because of this, I truly think Star Wars: the Rise of Skywalker will win for Achievement in Visual Effects.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

I hate choosing between a few of these nominees as they are all spectacular, but I think Little Women deserves the win a little more than the rest. The storytelling is beautiful and pulls the audience in to care about several characters at once. The toughest part of writing a screenplay that’s adapted from source material is choosing what from the source material deserves to be in the two-hour film version of the story and what can be left out. Not only does Greta Gerwig find that perfect balance, but she is able to arrange the necessary events from the novel to tell a unique story. She made the story her own with her screenplay, and for that, Little Women deserves the win for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Little Women poster

Writing (Original Screenplay)

There’s a lot to like about the writing for each of the nominees for Best Original Screenplay, but Parasite absolutely deserves the win. With Parasite, Bong Joon Ho tells one of the most unique and captivating stories of all time. It starts off simple, funny, upbeat, and overall delightful. However, Bong Joon Ho is able to pull off multiple tone shifts while never feeling like it doesn’t belong. He adds suspense, twists, excitement, and witty dialogue, creating a story that no one can predict the outcome of. The story also uses powerful themes of social class injustices, greed, and power in very original ways. Parasite has an especially impressive story and should definitely win for Best Original Screenplay.

Best Picture

This is an even harder choice than last year. I truly believe it’s mainly a competition between Little Women, Joker, Jojo Rabbit, and Parasite. I was personally blown away by each of these movies, but I can see the Academy voting for Little Women over the others.

The story is extremely heartfelt. It’s funny when it needs to be and touching at the right times. It’s a fantastic period piece that matches the years after the civil war perfectly with its brilliant sets, costumes, and events. The story is able to captivate viewers enough to care about a large ensemble of characters. It shows the hardships women had to put up with at the time and how those hardships may still be experienced in different ways. It’s entertaining and contains multiple powerful messages along with showing how important kindness toward others truly is. I wouldn’t be too shocked if one of the other few nominees I listed wins, but I do think the award for Best Picture will go to Little Women.

Snubs

There are quite a few contenders that I, and many others, assumed would at least get nominated this year. Here’s a list of what I think were some of the biggest snubs this year for the Academy Awards.

Perhaps the biggest snub this year, in my opinion, is Alita: Battle Angel for Achievement in Visual Effects. The filmmakers were able to craft an entire world using masterful effects, along with adding fantastic detail to every character and machine. Not only should this have been nominated, but it would have been my number one choice to win.

I was saddened to see that Rocketman did not receive more love at the Oscars. I was expecting it to receive nominations for Costume Design for the extravagant outfits Elton John wore on stage (and in his group therapy meeting), Best Actor in a Leading Role for Taron Egerton, Best Directing, and even Best Picture. It was overall a beautiful movie that should have gotten more love in the right way.

I’m shocked that Roman Griffin Davis did not receive a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his work in Jojo Rabbit. That kid rocked the silver screen and gave one of the most impressive performances of the year. For a fresh face, he managed to capture the complex emotions and development of the Jojo character.

lighthouse

The Lighthouse may have been nominated for its cinematography, but just about anyone who saw it would probably agree it deserved nominations for its directing and acting as well. Both Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson gave incredible performances and should have been nominated. For only having two actual characters throughout the film, they succeeded in carrying the whole story and captivating audiences.

I was certainly expecting Uncut Gems to be nominated for at least something, especially Adam Sandler for his acting. He may be known for his goofy comedies, but Uncut Gems is proof that he can show off some real talent.

I would have liked to see Long Shot nominated for it’s writing. It’s witty, original, and conveys some surprising political themes. It was a surprise hit, and maybe deserved at least a little Oscar love.

Us is a suspenseful and chilling movie, but it’s all held together by Lupita Nyong’o’s incredible and emotional dual performance. She absolutely deserved to be nominated for Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.

Perhaps the biggest and most obvious Oscar snubs belong to female directors. Why won’t the academy recognize them? The issue heavily stems from women not being hired to direct in the first place, which is an even bigger problem that needs to be fixed, but for those who are, like Little Women’s Greta Gerwig, they aren’t being nominated. Gerwig showcased excellence in directing while making Little Women and deserves to at least be nominated for it.

The 92nd Academy Awards will air February 9th at 8:00 PM eastern time on ABC. There’s still some time left to catch up on any of the nominees you haven’t seen yet to prepare for the big show! Let me know if you agree with my picks, or if you have your own list of potential winners.

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