by Ivor Davis
Having covered the Oscars for nearly half a century, I believe Sunday night’s ABC TV show (the 92nd Academy Awards) is more wide open than ever before.
Will the World War I saga 1917, from Brit director Sam Mendes, blow away Quentin Tarantino’s l969 fairy tale Once Upon a Time . . . in Hollywood for best picture and director?
Or will a surprising foreign-language Korean social satire (Parasite) with a cast of totally unknown actors make history by bumping off director Martin Scorsese’s three-hour-plus mob story The Irishman — despite its heavyweight, all-star cast that includes legends such as Robert De Niro and Al Pacino?
Or maybe that crazy Joker, Joaquin Phoenix, will get the last laugh and triumph over the Pope, the Vatican as well as best actor contender Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes?
Before the curtain goes up you should know that director Todd Phillips’ Joker, a comic-book origin story about Batman’s biggest foe, comes to Oscar night with 11 nominations — including best picture, best director and best actor.
Scorsese’s epic, Tarantino’s odd ode to 1969 Los Angeles and Mendes’ riveting war drama follow close behind with 10 nods apiece. Those films, along with Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story and Parasite, all compete for best picture.
Sadly, female filmmakers were entirely shut out of the best director race, which includes the above mentioned as well as the unknown Hollywood outsider, Korean filmmaker Bong Joon Ho, for his much-acclaimed Parasite.
So strap yourself in for some surprises, some yawns and even some predictable outcomes during the three-hour show. Nothing is certain when Hollywood heavyweights put on their finery and don their over-the-top designer outfits to vie for the film industry’s top prizes.
Background note: Over the last few years, voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — now some 6,600 strong — have recruited fresh and much younger blood in an effort to shake up the traditional, aged white male membership profile. That’s why anything could happen.
Here are the movies and actors I would like to win, alongside the talent that is likely to walk off with the golden statuettes.
My choice: Adam Driver for Marriage Story
Likely winner: Mr. Phoenix
Best Supporting Actor
My choice: Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Likely winner: Joe Pesci, The Irishman
No contest: Renée Zellweger for Judy. She portrays singer Judy Garland in a sad movie that captures Garland desperately trying to make a comeback at the end of her dazzling but storm-tossed career.
Best Supporting Actress
My choice: Laura Dern in Marriage Story
Likely winner: Kathy Bates in Richard Jewell
My choice: Sam Mendes, l917
Likely winner: Parasite’s Bong Joon Ho
Tough, this one.
My favorite: The clever satire Jojo Rabbit
Likely winner: Parasite
And here are a few other odd picks.
Shoo-in for best original song: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” from Rocketman, for Elton John and his song-writing buddy, Bernie Taupin.
And I expect British veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049 and numerous Coen brothers movies) to win that category for his work on 1917.
Oh. And here’s another surefire prediction: There will be no host for the awards this year!
And the Oscar goes to….
The 92nd Academy Awards will air live on ABC on Sunday, Feb. 9. Red carpet coverage begins at 3:30 p.m.; awards presentations start at 5 p.m.