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Saturday, February 29, 2020
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY COLUMBIA PICTURES“Little Women” is director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic novel. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY COLUMBIA PICTURES“Little Women” is director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic novel.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY NETFLIXScarlett Johansson stars opposite Adam Driver in “Marriage Story.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY NETFLIXScarlett Johansson stars opposite Adam Driver in “Marriage Story.”
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSAL PICTURES“1917” tells a fictional account of a mission behind enemy lines during World War I. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSAL PICTURES“1917” tells a fictional account of a mission behind enemy lines during World War I.

Article By: Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com

Friday, January 10, 2020 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

The Oscars arrive early in 2020.

The 2020 Oscar nominees are scheduled to be announced at 8 p.m. (EST) Jan. 13. By then, the 2020 Golden Globes, to be presented Jan. 5, are history.

The Globes are often a predictor of Oscar nominees and recipients, as are key other awards programs, notably the Screen Actors Guild nominees and recipients.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents the 92nd Academy Awards ceremonies honoring 2019 theatrical motion picture releases, 8 p.m. (EST) Feb. 9, Dolby Theatre, Hollywood and Highland Center, Los Angeles, and televised live on ABC-TV.

In 2019, the Oscars were presented Feb. 24.

The Lehigh Valley Press Focus section will again present the “Readers Pick the Oscar Winners” contest, starting with the entry form available in the Jan. 15 edition. The deadline for entries by email, U.S. Postal Service or entry form drop-off is 5 p.m. Feb. 7.

The year 2019 was a particularly excellent year for movies. We thought it might be interesting to attempt to predict the Oscar nominees.

While I didn’t see all of the 2020 Oscar nominees, I did see at least one movie per week in 2019 for a total of about 54 movies reviewed for the Lehigh Valley Press weekly newspapers and websites and The Times-News daily newspaper and websites. I actually saw more than 54 movies, but didn’t write a movie review for the additional movies.

My Oscar nominees predictions for the seven categories in The Press contest are based on the movies that I saw and reviewed, as well as movies that I think will be nominated, including some movies that I didn’t see as of the deadline for this article (Jan. 1), but plan to see. I also have had input from Michael “Movie Maven” Gontkosky, with whom I often attend movie screenings.

Other motion picture awards nominees and awards ceremonies, many of which are televised, that can be Oscar nominee and recipient predictors include: Screen Actors Guild, Jan. 19; Directors Guild of America, Jan. 7, nominations announced; awards, Jan. 25; Writers Guild of America, nominations, Jan. 6; awards, Feb. 1; Independent Spirit Awards, Feb. 8.

Oscar nominations voting began Jan. 2 and was to have concluded Jan. 7.

The Golden Globes are voted on by about 90 journalists who are members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization with a voting membership of more than 7,000 as of 2018. Academy membership is divided into branches, with each representing a different profession in film production. Actors are the largest group in the Academy, representing about 1,311 members.

Here are my predictions, with the nominees in alphabetical order, for Oscar nominees (Five are listed in each category, except for Best Picture, which can have up to 10 nominees) for the 92nd Academy Awards:

Leading Actor

Christian Bale, “Ford v Ferarri.” Bale presented race car driver Ken Miles as a, pun intended, driven and dedicated athlete and father.

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story.” Driver is a fierce but sensitive Kylo Ren in “Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker” and parlayed that duality as Charlie, a sensitive but fierce husband. (“Marriage Story” was not seen prior to this article.)

Paul Walter Hauser, “Richard Jewell.” Hauser portrayed the wronged suspect in the 1996 Summer Olympic bombing in Atlanta, Ga., in an understated performance that is completely believable.

Al Pacino, “The Irishman.” Pacino played the Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa with a sure sense of bravado leavened with a sense of tragic reticence.

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker.” Phoenix delicately showed us where a troubled, misunderstood and bullied person, Arthur Fleck, went wrong to become a sociopath.

Leading Actress

Awkwafina, “The Farewell.” Awkwafina is remarkable no matter the role, no more so than as Billi, a creatively and financially struggling granddaughter who returns to China to bond with her grandmother in director Lulu Wang’s bittersweet comedy.

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story.” Johansson used her considerable emotional prowess to portray Nicole, the wife, with raw vulnerability. (“Marriage Story” was not seen prior to this article.)

Lupita Nyong’o, “Us.” Nyong’o was extraordinary in the dual role of Adelaide Wilson and Red in director Jordan Peele’s meditation on the terror of reality.

Charlize Theron, “Bombshell.” Theron again went deep to portray Megyn Kelly, putting the #metoo in this tale of the Fox, as in Fox News chief Roger Ailes. (“Bombshell” was not seen prior to this article.)

Renee Zellweger, “Judy.” Zellweger completely submerged herself in the role to “become” the iconic United States chanteuse Judy Garland during a series of tragic London concerts.

Supporting Actor

Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.” Hanks has the red sweater, the tennis sneakers and the voice in director Marielle Heller’s visit with Fred Rogers and a journalist.

Joe Pesci, “The Irishman.” Pesci has a small role as alleged Northeast Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, but it’s the banal normality that makes him seem all the more sinister.

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon A Time In ... Hollywood.” Pitt plays Cliff Booth, an actor’s assistant, with doofus wisdom.

Sam Rockwell, “Richard Jewell.” Rockwell gives Jewell’s attorney Watson Bryant a cantankerous spirit and solid smarts.

Kang-ho Song, “Parasite.” Father doesn’t know best in the tragic South Korean fable.

Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell.” Bates, as Jewell’s mother Bobi, is sweet without sentimentality. She’s all for her Richard.

Laura Dern, “Little Women.” Dern plays Marmee March in director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott classic novel. (“Little Women was not seen prior to this article.)

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers.” Lopez plays Ramona at the center of a con worthy of Wall Street derivatives. (“Hustlers” was not seen prior to this article.)

Margot Robbie, “Once Upon A Time In ... Hollywood.” Robbie plays actress Sharon Tate with a fun sense of tragic deniability

Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey.” Smith reprises her PBS “Masterpiece Theatre” role of Violet Crawley to wonderful effect.

Directing

Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite.” The South Korean director came up with a comedy turned suspense-thriller turned horror film.

Sam Mendes, “1917.” Mendes utilizes careful scripting, camera movements and angles and editing to create a convincing story about World War I. (“1917” was not seen prior to this article.)

Todd Phillips, “Joker.” Phillips took the “tired” and true genre of the superhero and made it real, sans superpowers save for those of hatred and revenge.

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman.” This sprawling, three and one-half-hour epic is Mr. Scorsese’s opus, his “Godfather,” Parts 1, 2 and 3 wrapped up into one, completing his trilogy that includes “Wise Guys” (1986) and “Casino” (1995).

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon A Time In ... Hollywood.” Tarantino gets under the skin of late-1960s’ Hollywood to spin a fable of movieland run amok.

Best Picture

“1917”

“Bombshell”

“Joker”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Little Women”

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon A Time In ... Hollywood”

“Parasite”

“Richard Jewell”

“The Irishman”

Animated Feature

“Frozen II.”

“How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“Missing Link”

“The Lion King”

“Toy Story 4”