This year’s Oscars are just around the corner and no doubt you’ll be hoping that your favourites will win on the night. We’re here to tell you that as much as you might want them to, not all of them will. The reason? Statistics and history.
Predicting what will and what won’t win at the Academy Awards in 2020 is by no means an exact science. However, there are patterns you can follow from the industry awards leading up to the Oscars to work out what will triumph on the night. Because we’re helpful souls, we’ve taken a look at this year’s awards-race winners so far and what their success means for some of the biggest prizes at the Oscars.
Nominees: Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, 1917, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, Parasite
Likely winner: Head says 1917, but heart says Parasite
Until a few weeks ago, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood looked like the hot favourite for the Oscar, but Quentin Tarantino’s opus has lost a lot of momentum. Now it seems to be a battle between 1917 and Parasite, with the current favourite being 1917. Sam Mendes’s World War I epic landed the big Producers Guild of America Awards prize and Mendes won the top Directors Guild of America award.
Of the 30 years it’s been running, the PGA Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture has correctly predicted 21 Best Picture winners, with The Big Short and La La Land the only two PGA winners of the last decade not going on to win the Oscar.
As for the DGA Award, there have only been 17 occasions in its 72-year history where the DGA-winning movie hasn’t gone on to win the Best Picture Oscar. However, this did happen last year when Alfonso Cuarón won the DGA award, but Roma didn’t win Best Picture. So there’s hope for Parasite, especially as it recently won the Best Ensemble prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which 1917 wasn’t even nominated for.
In the 24 years since the SAG awards introduced the award, only Braveheart, The Shape of Water and Green Book have managed to win Best Picture at the Oscars without a SAG nomination. However, like Green Book last year, 1917 is predominantly a two-hander, so it’s not a surprise for it not to be up for Best Ensemble.
The other worry for Parasite is that a foreign-language movie has never won the Best Picture Oscar, unless you count the largely-silent The Artist. It didn’t win either Best Picture category at the Golden Globes either, but it wasn’t eligible for them.
Parasite feels like it’s got a lot of love in the industry and, compared to 1917, it’s been the better-received movie. As much as we really like 1917, Parasite winning Best Picture would be a game-changer. Best Picture is the one category at the Oscars that has a preferential voting system to decide its winner, with all members of the Academy giving their top five out of the nominees.
If one movie gets more than 50% of the No.1 pick then it wins, but if not, the lowest ranking is eliminated and No.2 picks are used until one movie has more than 50%. So there’s every chance that a popular movie like Parasite could defy the odds and beat the more ‘awards-friendly’ 1917. Equally, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood could come out of nowhere and surprise us all by being everyone’s second or third choice. Historically, the Academy loves movies about actors.
Nominees: Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Todd Phillips (Joker), Sam Mendes (1917), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood), Bong Joon-ho (Parasite)
Likely winner: Sam Mendes (1917)
As mentioned before, Sam Mendes won the main prize at the Directors Guild of America Awards, so Best Director at the Oscars is his to lose. There have only been seven times in DGA’s 72-year history where a director has won the DGA Award of Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film and NOT gone on to win the Best Director Oscar.
The most recent example of this was Ben Affleck for Argo, but that’s because he wasn’t even nominated for the Oscar. Awkward! Mendes also won Best Director at the Golden Globes against the same competition, so it’s hard to see anyone else winning the Oscar. It would mark his second Best Director win after 1999’s American Beauty.
Nominees: Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes)
Likely winner: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
Nominees: Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Renée Zellweger (Judy)
Likely winner: Renée Zellweger (Judy)
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman), Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood)
Likely winner: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood)
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Scarlett Johansson (Jojo Rabbit), Florence Pugh (Little Women), Margot Robbie (Bombshell)
Likely winner: Laura Dern (Marriage Story)
If you’re wondering why we’ve grouped all of the acting categories together, it’s because they’re all pretty much sewn up for the same reasons. Joaquin Phoenix, Renée Zellweger, Brad Pitt and Laura Dern have been on their own winning tour at all the pre-Oscars awards, nabbing the acting prizes at the likes of the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards.
The SAG Awards are the main one to pay attention to as the acting branch of the Academy is the largest, so whatever wins at the SAG Awards has the best shot of winning at the Oscars.
- Best Actor – matched SAG Awards 20 out of 25 times
- Best Actress – matched SAG Awards 18 out of 25 times
- Best Supporting Actor – matched SAG Awards 16 out of 25 times
- Best Supporting Actress – matched SAG Awards 17 out of 25 times
Last year did deliver a curveball with Olivia Colman beating SAG winner Glenn Close for Best Actress, so you can never rule out a surprise in the acting categories, but these feel the most ‘certain’ of all the winners.
Best of the rest
It’s trickier to use stats to guess the winners of the other categories at the Oscars, but the best you can do is look at the various guild awards for a sense of what will win on the night. So, for instance, at the American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Awards, Parasite and Jojo Rabbit won in the dramatic and comedy or musical categories, respectively. Both are up for the Best Film Editing at the Oscars, so it’s between the two of them on the night.
As for the American Society of Cinematographers, the ASC Awards gave the top prize to Roger Deakins for 1917, so he looks set to land the second Oscar of his career, following his win for Blade Runner 2049. The Writers Guild of America Awards don’t take place until February 1, but it’s safe to assume that whatever movie wins Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay is a strong contender for the Oscars.
But to know for sure what will win on the night, you’ll just have to tune in. The 92nd Academy Awards take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 9.