The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced on Monday, January 13, at 8:18 a.m. EST. This means that by 8:19 a.m. EST, people will be furious. “I can’t believe [your favorite movie, probably John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum] wasn’t nominated for Best Picture.” “The Oscars are trash for picking [your least favorite actress] over [your favorite actress].” You know the deal. So, let’s save the talk of snubs, which I’ll happily take part in, for next week; that’s a problem for our future selves, those poor bastards. I want to be positive, goddammit, and focus on all the good things that could happen on Monday.
Rather than write a cut-and-dry prediction post, I instead focused on the best-case scenarios for ten of the major categories, the nominations, if not wins, that would make for the happiest endings. Some make for good storylines, others are because I think it would be neat if Adam Sandler was nominated for an Oscar. I left out anyone who doesn’t have a realistic shot at getting nominated (sorry, Detective Pikachu!), and again, the best case isn’t necessarily who I think should win, although there’s a lot of overlap, but rather who (or for Best Picture, what) would minimize Monday’s snub-fueled anger.
Let’s start with the night’s biggest category.
Only 11 foreign-language films have ever been nominated for Best Picture. Parasite will likely be the 12th, but unlike Grand Illusion, Z, The Emigrants, Cries and Whispers, The Postman (Il Postino), Life Is Beautiful, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Letters from Iwo Jima, Babel, Amour, and Roma, it has a very good shot at winning. Bong Joon Ho’s satire-thriller scored some of the best reviews of any movie in 2019, won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, and it’s a surprise box-office hit (no wonder HBO’s turning it into a limited series). Gold Derby currently has Parasite as having the third-best odds to win Best Picture, behind Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and The Irishman, but it’s long past time for the Academy to show a foreign-language film the “RESPECT” it deserves.
Along the same lines as above, only five female filmmakers have ever been nominated for Best Director: Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties), Jane Campion (The Piano), Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), and Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird). This is not an Oscars-only issue — the Golden Globes had another “all-male nominees” moment this year, and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts is reviewing its voting process after no women were nominated for the seventh straight year (!) — but it’s still a bad look. It’s not as if it would be a token nomination, either: Little Women, Booksmart, The Farewell, Honey Boy, Hustlers, The Souvenir, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and High Life are very good movies, and they were all directed by (get this!) women. I mean, c’mon, does Todd Phillips really need an Oscar?
No offense to Joaquin Phoenix, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Antonio Banderas, Eddie Murphy, and Taron Egerton, who all gave good to career-defining performances in projects as varied as a “gritty” comic book movie to a quirky ’70s throwback to a biographical musical, but this category should belong to Adam Sandler. The hype is real — he’s incredible in Josh and Benny Safdie’s jittery Uncut Gems, equal parts pitiful and hilarious, unpleasant and likable; it’s the exact kind of formidable role the Academy should salute, if only because if they don’t, Sandler will go back to making “so bad on purpose” movies. Leo already has an Oscar — this is how Adam Sandler wins.
In the past 30 years, this category has only gone to an actress in a horror movie twice: Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs and Natalie Portman in Black Swan. That’s more than I expected, but fewer than it should be. But the Academy can make up for decades of genre injustice by nominating Florence Pugh and Lupita Nyong’o. Not Pugh “or” Nyong’o, but Pugh “and” Nyong’o for their massive-but-never-showy performances in Midsommar and Us (literally performances, plural, for Nyong’o). As for who’s objectively better, that’s up to, uh, Timothee Chalamet to decide; either way, an Oscar would look good next to a May Queen flower crown or holding hands with another Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
There are multiple best-case scenarios for this category:
1. Joe Pesci coming out of semi-retirement to win another Oscar.
2. Brad Pitt removing his shirt on stage.
3. The potential of Al Pacino reenacting this moment:
— Carol Ray Hartsell (@carolrhartsell) December 12, 2019
4. Song Kang Ho, a legend in South Korea, becoming a household name in the U.S.
5. But to be honest, I hope it’s Willem Dafoe. He’s been nominated two years in a row, for The Florida Project (which he should have won for) and At Eternity’s Gate, but he doesn’t have a single Oscar! It was hilarious that the oft-nominated Leo got over the hump by fighting a bear, and it would be even better if Dafoe finally won for The Lighthouse, a black-and-white horror movie with “ferocious” masturbation and fart jokes.
Best Supporting Actress
“Oscar-winner Jennifer Lopez.” That’s it. That’s the tweet, er, best-case scenario.
Best Original Screenplay
Remember when Green Book won Best Original Screenplay, even though it’s a bad movie and the family of one of the film’s subjects called it a “symphony of lies” and co-writer Nick Vallelonga agrees with one of the president’s more “offensive” and “dangerous” conspiracy theories? That was weird! This year’s Original Screenplay frontrunners — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, Marriage Story — are not only superior movies, but they’re also less controversial. I’ll take the foot thing over bad tweets any day, thank you very much. Also, if Marriage Story wins, Noah Baumbach should share the Oscar with everyone who made an Adam Driver yelling meme.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Irishman writer Steven Zaillian already has an Oscar (for Schindler’s List) and has been nominated for three more (Awakenings, Gangs of New York, and Moneyball). So while I think Martin Scorsese’s Netflix movie, which is still a weird thing to say, is the best of the potential screenplay nominees, I’m looking elsewhere for the best-case scenario: specifically, to 1940s Germany. Jojo Rabbit isn’t Taika Waititi’s best movie, because it’s not What We Do in the Shadows, but his acceptance speech would be something to see. Can the orchestra play “Nazi Punks F*ck Off” while he walks to the stage?
Best Animated Feature Film
Toy Story 4 is probably going to win, even after Missing Link‘s surprise Globes win, and honestly, that’s fine. Forky is good! But the best-case scenario would be a wild card, like Missing Link (give Laika a lifetime achievement award for keeping stop-motion animation alive), or Klaus (the only good Netflix Christmas movie), or Weathering With You (director Makoto Shinkai’s follow-up to the stunning Your Name). Or how about I Lost My Body? This is the 92nd Academy Awards, and not once has an Oscar gone to a movie where a disembodied hand fends off Paris subway rats using a lighter. It’s about time.
Best Original Song
Nothing from Cats, so it already happened.