RANKED: The Big Contenders for Oscars 2020

By Zach Hester | @hestzach

So far, 2019 has been a strong year for film. I would argue that it is the strongest year of this decade, second only to 2017…and maybe, 2014, I can’t decide. 

Either way, this is yet another year that there’s no true leader heading into awards season for Best Picture and several other categories. Today, I’m breaking down the movies I think are most likely to compete for the top prize early next year.

This is unofficially an episode of RANKED, but there aren’t any numbers this week. It be like that. 

Avengers: Endgame

  • Director: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
  • Starring: Every actor you could possibly think of

Despite its significance in cinematic history, I’m still pretty bullish on this movie’s chance to WIN Best Picture, but I think it will definitely be nominated. The film is not the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (just my two cents, for what it’s worth), but its weight on our culture should be noted by the Academy. It doesn’t hurt its chances that it’s now the most financially successful movie of all time. 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

  • Director: Quentin Tarantino
  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie

Since debuting at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has been the hot talk for Oscars season. It’s got all the necessary parts: directed by Tarantino, starring former Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio and nominees Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie AND is a love letter to a certain period in Hollywood history. This perfect mix could see Tarantino finally take home the trophy for Best Director. 

Jojo Rabbit 

  • Director: Taika Waititi
  • Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi

This movie was not even on my radar until it debuted last weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). When it came out to somewhat mixed reviews, it wasn’t clear if Taika Waititi’s latest film would be an Oscar contender; HOWEVER, it won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF over the weekend, which certainly cements it for a nomination. I’m not so sure that it can win, but Jojo Rabbit will almost certainly be in the top five contenders. 

The Irishman

  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Starring: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino

There isn’t a ton of information out there about The Irishman, the latest film from Martin Scorsese. Despite this, the film’s powerhouse cast that reunites Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino with the director for the first time in a long time, is destined to dominate awards season. The film is set to debut on Netflix later this year, so let’s hope the streaming service knows how to market this one to voters. 

Joker

  • Director: Todd Phillips
  • Starring: Joaquin Phoenix

Despite good trailers and an Award-winning cast, I never pictured Todd Phillips’ Joker as an Oscar contender. I ate those words when it debuted to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, where it ultimately won the top prize there. I think the film could land a Best Picture nomination, but I think Warner Bros. will more than likely campaign harder for Joaquin Phoenix as Best Actor more than anything else.

Parasite

  • Director: Bong Joon-ho
  • Starring: Song Kang-ho, Jang Hye-jin, Choi Woo-shik

2019 could very well be the year a foreign language film wins Best Picture. Roma came so close last year, but fell short, however, Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite promises to be even more of a contender after rave reviews including winning the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. I don’t expect many acting awards for this film, but it will be a major contender for Picture, no doubt. 

Marriage Story

  • Director: Noah Baumbach
  • Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Driver

Marriage Story is another awards contender from Netflix that seems to be portraying itself as an updated version of 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer, which happens to be among my favorite dramas of all time. It took second place at TIFF, but the major buzz is surrounding the phenomenal performances from Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. They are both locks for Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively. I doubt Noah Baumbach hops in for Director, but Marriage Story in the Best Picture conversation signals that Netflix could dominate this awards season.

Little Women

  • Director: Greta Gerwig
  • Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Meryl Streep

I’ve stated all this before: this movie checks so many boxes. It’s directed by Academy Award nominated director and screenwriter Greta Gerwig. It’s scored by two-time Oscar-winning composer, Alexandre Desplat. It stars Award winning actors and actress, including but not limited to: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, among others. I’ve picked it since the beginning of the year to be my favorite of 2019, but no one has seen it yet, so only time can tell if this will shape up to strike the Oscars like it wants to.


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