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Rotten Tomatoes Predicts the 2020 Oscar Nominations!

It's gonna be a big morning for Parasite, The Irishman, and... Us? Get the jump on Monday's nominations with our predictions for who will be nominated and why.

by | January 8, 2020 | Comments

THE IRISHMAN (2019) Ray Ramano (Bill Bufalino ) Al Pacino (Jimmy Hoffa) and Robert De Niro (Frank Sheeran) (Netflix)
(Photo by © Netflix)

Next Monday morning, January 13, nice and early – around 8am Eastern, 5am Pacific – John Cho and Issa Rae will announce the nominees for the 92nd annual Academy Awards on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Frontrunners have been coming into focus all awards season (check out our Awards Leaderboard to see which films and folks are racking up awards so far), but after the Golden Globes’ big shocks, it seems anything is possible.

Still, we think we know what that “anything” will be.

Below, you’ll find our predictions for the Oscar nominations for 2020, which honor the best in filmmaking for the previous year. We base our picks for the categories ranging all the way from Best Picture to Best Original Song on potential nominees’ critical reception (hello, Tomatometer!), the nominations and wins they’ve been receiving from guilds and other groups during awards season, as well as what we’re hearing from voters and other industry folks – a.k.a. the “buzz.”

Will Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese dominate? Will Parasite break records for a foreign-language film? And will the Sandman finally get an Oscar nomination? For answers, check out our Oscar nominations predictions below, and be here Monday when we reveal who officially is nominated for the 2020 Academy Awards.

Check out our picks for the Oscar nominations below, and let us know who you think will be nominated in the comments.


Best Picture

Parasite
(Photo by © Neon)

Who will be nominated?

1917 (2020) 89%
The Irishman (2019) 96%
Jojo Rabbit (2019) 80%
Joker (2019) 68%
Knives Out (2019) 97%
Little Women (2019) 94%
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85%
Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%
Ford v Ferrari (2019) 92%
Marriage Story (2019) 95%

And why? Since the Academy changed its rules to allow for a maximum of 10 nominees in 2011 – after a brief period of requiring 10 nominees – we’ve had three years of nine nominees, and no years of 10. This year we predict that we shall finally see 10 nominees, with upstart Knives Out effectively punching its ticket with a surprise Producers Guild Awards nom, the most coveted nomination of the “favored five” guilds (PGA, Writers Guild, Screen Actors Guild, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Directors Guild). A nod from all five effectively guarantees a Best Picture nomination, and Best Picture frontrunners The Irishman and Parasite can thankfully boast such a distinction, while Jojo Rabbit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and 1917 each earned nominations from four of the five.


Best Actor In a Leading Role

Marriage Story
(Photo by © Netflix)

Who will be nominated?

Adam Driver – Marriage Story (2019) 95%
Antonio Banderas – Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) (2019) 96%
Joaquin Phoenix – Joker (2019) 68%
Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85%
Taron Egerton – Rocketman (2019) 89%

And why? Marriage Story and Joker stars Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix are still no-brainer picks for the Oscars. On the other hand, SNL alums Adam Sandler  (Uncut Gems) and Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name) made strong cases late in the season, but Taron Egerton’s Golden Globe win, coupled with one of the smartest campaigns we have seen in recent years, mean we give him the edge over the funny guys as well as Two Popes lead Jonathan Pryce. We also wouldn’t be surprised if Ford v Ferrari star Christian Bale popped in late with a surprise nomination given his Academy history and SAG nomination, but we’re not betting on it.


Best Actress In A Leading Role

Who will be nominated?

Lupita Nyong’o – Us (2019) 93%
Charlize Theron – Bombshell (2019) 70%
Renee Zellweger – Judy (2019) 82%
Cynthia Erivo – Harriet (2019) 73%
Scarlett Johansson – Marriage Story (2019) 95%

And why? The recent BAFTA nominations that featured double nominations for Scarlett Johansson and Margot Robbie – but not one nomination for an actress of color – could turn out to be good news for bubble contenders Cynthia Erivo and Lupita Nyong’o. We think that the Academy membership, infused with nearly 3,000 new members, will be kinder to the Harriet and Us leading ladies. We left Awkafina (The Farewell) off our list, but don’t be surprised if she slips in, though we are betting the lack of individual award wins and nominations this season for Little Women star Saoirse Ronan will see her left out come Monday morning.


Best Actor In a Supporting Role

(Photo by © Columbia Pictures)

Who will be nominated?

Joe Pecsi – The Irishman (2019) 96%
Al Pacino  – The Irishman (2019) 96%
Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) 96%
Song Kang-ho – Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%
Brad Pitt – Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85%

And why? Okay, I guess you can sign us up for the “Bonghive” – the online fanbase of South Korean Parasite director Bong Joon-ho. But in all seriousness, the director and his cast – especially Song Kang-ho – were the bells of the ball on Golden Globes weekend, with supporting actor frontrunner Brad Pitt making a point to greet them at the American Film Institute luncheon, and just about everyone we spoke to touting the film as their favorite of the year on the Golden Globes red carpet. This along with the Parasite ensemble’s SAG ensemble nomination is why we are comfortable with picking Kang-ho here for a surprise nomination.


Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection
(Photo by Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection)

Who will be nominated?

Laura Dern – Marriage Story (2019) 95%
Florence Pugh – Little Women (2019) 94%
Jennifer Lopez – Hustlers (2019) 87%
Zhao Shuzhen – The Farewell (2019) 98%
Margot Robbie – Bombshell (2019) 70%

And why? Zhao Shuzhen‘s flawless work as Nai Nai in The Farewell was not recognized by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association last week, but we are betting our lovable-lied-to-grandma will still pull out the Oscar nom. And with several Supporting Actress wins on our Awards Leaderboard, the once-thought-to-be-a-longshot nomination of Jennifer Lopez looks set to become a reality.


Best Animated Feature Film

Who will be nominated?

Missing Link (2019) 89%
Frozen II (2019) 77%
Toy Story 4 (2019) 97%
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) 91%
I Lost My Body (2019) 96%

And why? In a pretty straightforward category, Toy Story 4, Frozen II, and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World have been consistent picks by guilds and critics all year long, with Golden Globe winner Missing Link and Netflix adult animation drama I Lost My Body rounding out the group. The only possible surprise nominee we see potentially getting a slot is Klaus, Netflix’s other offering. But of the two Netflix films, I Lost My Body has the better track record on our Awards Leaderboard with over 10 wins so far.


Best Cinematography

Who will be nominated?

1917 (2020) 89%
The Lighthouse (2019) 90%
The Irishman (2019) 96%
Jojo Rabbit (2019) 80%
Joker (2019) 68%

And why? This is the only nomination we can see for indie favorite The Lighthouse, which is unfortunate, as this category is just a group of the most likely candidates set to lose to iconic cinematographer Roger Deakins, whose “one-shot” war drama 1917 is a lock come February. Oh well, at least the parties are fun and booze is free.


Best Costume Design 

Eddie Murphy stars in DOLEMITE IS MY NAME! PHOTO CREDIT Francois Duhamel COPYRIGHT NETFLIX
(Photo by Francois Duhamel/Netflix)

Who will be nominated?

The Irishman (2019) 96%
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85%
Little Women (2019) 94%
Dolemite Is My Name (2019) 97%
Rocketman (2019) 89%

And why? As per usual, the best of the period pieces will dominate here, but Black Panther costume designer Ruth E. Carter has put on an incredible show this campaign season and has garnered a ton of wins so far for the Eddie Murphy comedy Dolemite Is My Name, placing her in the frontrunner’s chair. And have you seen the intricate costumes Elton John sported over the years, recreated for Rocketman? That alone puts Rocketman in contention come nominations morning, with the best shot of unseating Carter when awards are handed out next month.


Best Makeup And Hairstyling

(Photo by © Lionsgate)

Who will be nominated?

Bombshell (2019) 70%
Rocketman (2019) 89%
Judy (2019) 82%
Dolemite Is My Name (2019) 97%
Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85%

And why? The Academy’s expansion of this category from three to five nominees in 2018 places many pundits (including us) at a disadvantage, so we are less confident in our picks outside of Bombshell, Rocketman, and Judy. But the Oscars crafts presentation for Joker was much talked about due to star Joaquin Phoenix’s notorious behavior, which will stick in voters’ minds, and we’re betting the larger-than-life wigs and Afros from Dolemite Is My Name will place its Hair and Makeup team in contention as well.


Best Directing

Dominique Charriau/WireImage
(Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)

Who will be nominated?

Bong Joon-ho – Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%
Martin Scorsese – The Irishman (2019) 96%
Taika Waititi – Jojo Rabbit (2019) 80%
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) 85%
Sam Mendes – 1917 (2020) 89%

And why? Taika Waititi’s surprise but welcomed DGA nom safely secured his spot here. We have heard rumblings from pundits of a late-season Safdie Brothers surge for their Uncut Gems, and Greta Gerwig is still the most likely candidate for a female directing nomination for Little Women. However, with no nominations outside of the Critics’ Choice Awards, Little Women and Gerwig’s chances are fading.


Best Documentary (Feature)

Apollo 11
(Photo by © Neon / courtesy Everett Collection)

Who will be nominated?

Apollo 11 (2019) 99%
For Sama (2019) 99%
Honeyland (2019) 100%
American Factory (2019) 97%
Maiden (2019) 98% 

And why? For Sama, the quiet Syrian war tale, is the film that non-fiction cinephiles have been buzzing about since it won Best Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival. Meanwhile, IMAX hit Apollo 11 has followed the same playbook that led to Oscar gold for last year’s category winner, the edge-of-your-seat nail-biter Free Solo. The rest are all strong contenders, too, but look for Edge of Democracy or the quiet-yet-heartwarming Biggest Little Farm as possible spoilers.


Best International Feature Film

Parasite
(Photo by © NEON)

Who will be nominated?

Atlantics (2019) 96%
Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%
Les Misérables (2020) 85%
Those Who Remained (Akik maradtak) (2020) 100%
Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) (2019) 96% 

And why? We shall forever lament that the Certified Fresh Portrait Of A Lady On Fire was not selected by France as its entry for Best International Feature Film, but it’s of little consolation as these again are just the films that will likely lose to Parasite.


Best Music (Original Score)

Niko Tavernise/© 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
(Photo by Niko Tavernise/© 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Who will be nominated?

Thomas Newman – 1917 (2020) 89%
Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker (2019) 68%
Alexandre Desplat – Little Women (2019) 94%
Randy Newman – Marriage Story (2019) 95%
Michael Abels – Us (2019) 93%

And why? Joker, Marriage Story, 1917, and Little Women have been winning consistent accolades for their music this awards season, so we’re thinking they’re a lock. For the fifth and more unpredictable slot, we’re thinking a genre score will slide in. But rather than go with past Oscar winners Alan Silvestri (Avengers: Endgame) or John Williams (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), we have gone with the risky bet of Michael Abels for Us. It may be foolish to bet against the most-nominated composer in Academy history – that would be Williams – but the lukewarm reaction to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Abels’ brilliant hip-hop orchestrations are enough for us to give the horror hit the edge.


Best Music (Original Song)

Walt Disney Studios

Who will be nominated?

“Spirit” – The Lion King (2019) 53%
“(I Am Gonna) Love Me Again” – Rocketman (2019) 89%
“Stand Up” – Harriet (2019) 73%
“Into The Unknown” – Frozen II (2019) 77%
“I’m Standing With You” – Breakthrough (2019) 61%

And why? Beyoncé, Elton John, the most storied female song composer in history (Diane Warren, who penned “I’m Standing With You”), and an EGOT winner (Frozen II co-composer Robert Lopez) will secure the four locked nominations. And for a fifth slot? Tony-winner and EGOT hopeful Cynthia Erivo performed “Stand Up” from Harriet at every opportunity afforded her this campaign season, and we’re comfortable putting that song in the open slot ahead of Pharrell Williams’ “Letter to my Godfather” from the Netflix documentary The Black Godfather or the new song for Princess Jasmine in the live-action Aladdin, “Speechless.”


Best Visual Effects

Alita: Battle Angel (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. /Courtesy of Everett Collection)
(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox)

Who will be nominated?

The Irishman (2019) 96%
The Lion King (2019) 53%
Alita: Battle Angel (2019) 62%
Avengers: Endgame (2019) 94%
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 51% 

And why? It’s beyond sense and a slight tragedy that Brad Pitt’s brilliant but largely forgotten space epic Ad Astra failed to make the Oscars shortlist in this category, and yet Cats – released with effects literally unfinished initially – did. For our selections, however, we leant into the most groundbreaking technical achievements for visual effects in 2019 (The IrishmanThe Lion KingAvengers EndgameRise of Skywalker), with Alita: Battle Angel serving as our choice for a surprise nomination over WWI epic 1917.


Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood
(Photo by © Sony Pictures Releasing)

Who will be nominated?

Jojo Rabbit (2019) 80%
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) 96%
Joker (2019) 68%
The Irishman (2019) 96%
Little Women (2019) 94%

And why? The Writers Guild of America’s nominations are the most accurate indicator of Oscar screenplay nominations, with over 85% of past Oscar nominees also having been nominated by the group. This is why we made a carbon copy of their noms for our predictions here. We are also cautious, however, not to dismiss Two Popes’ chances to beat out the Mr. Roger’s tale, A Beautiful Day in Neighborhood, though we are betting writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue’s and Noah Harpster’s WGA nomination will give them the slight advantage.


Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

Knives Out
(Photo by © Lionsgate)

Who will be nominated?

The Farewell (2019) 98%
Knives Out (2019) 97%
1917 (2020) 89%
Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) 99%
Marriage Story (2019) 95%

And why? Here is where we think we will finally see some love for Lulu Wang’s The Farewell. This, unfortunately, is often what happens to promising female writer/directors – no love for directing and a consolation nom here. Many will scratch their heads at our omission of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, but some are feeling director Quentin Tarantino did himself no favors with his Golden Globes acceptance speech, which could be seen as boastful. 1917 and Parasite are still our number 1 and 2 picks to win the top prize of Best Picture, and rarely in recent Oscar history has a film won that award without a screenwriting nomination. This year won’t be any different. [Editor’s note: this category originally displayed Once Upon A Time in Hollywood rather than 1917, which was a production error and has been amended.]


The 2020 Oscar nominations are announced Monday, January 13, at 8am ET / 5am PT. Check back at Rotten Tomatoes to see who gets a nod. 

Are you as obsessed with awards as we are? Check out our Awards Leaderboard for 2019/2020.


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