The 92nd Academy Awards are nearly upon us, and the ceremony is being held earlier than usual, which has sparked some controversy. Voters have barely had enough time to see all of the nominees, and late releases certainly impacted nominations, both at the Academy and at other awards shows. The ceremony will have no host for the second year in a row, which is a bit disappointing. Billie Eilish will make a special performance, with many suspecting for her to debut her title song for “No Time to Die.” Would it be inappropriate to do it over the “In Memoriam?” As usual, the lack of diversity among nominees drew outrage online, but as any sensible person can tell you, it is not the Academy’s job to create diversity. Rather, the industry as a whole must change in order for the categories in any awards show to be more diverse in color and gender. Fortunately, we’re seeing steps in the right direction, even if it’s not coming as fast as most people would like.

History could be made this year. “Parasite” could be the first foreign film to ever win Best Picture. The passion behind that film and its director is immense, and a preferential ballot could help swing the momentum from “1917” over to “Parasite” and land it more wins than we are expecting. “Joker” surprisingly received 11 nominations, but it will likely only walk away with two wins. It’s looking like “The Irishman” will suffer the same fate as “Gangs of New York,” and many are predicting “1917” to rule over the technical categories, possibly sweeping its way to winning Best Picture. Could “1917” wind up finding itself in the same predicament as “Saving Private Ryan” though? Could this year mirror 2016, in which “La La Land” was expected to easily win the big award, but ended up losing to “Moonlight?” Few things are for certain, but what we do know is that the length of the show will probably rival that of “The Irishman.” Brace yourselves.

I’m dividing up my predictions in three different ways- most likely, possible upset, and my pick. “My pick” does not denote my own personal choices, rather what I will have on my ballot as I look to go 25 for 25.

Without further ado, let’s jump into each of the categories –

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen any of the shorts, and neither have some of the Academy members. The best thing to do here is to pick your favorite name, or go off of what others are predicting.

Most Likely – Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)

 

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Most Likely – Hair Love

Possible Upset – Kitbull (because the Academy does like animals)

 

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Most Likely – The Neighbor’s Window

 

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Most Likely – American Factory

“American Factory” is a superb documentary with a domestic and contemporary topic that is highly applicable to today’s political and corporate climate. Also, the Obamas produced it.

Possible Upset – For Sama

“For Sama” has a lot of passion behind it and is an astonishingly touching story. It could easily also take home the win in this category. Look out for who wins the Independent Spirit Awards the night before, because that is an excellent predictor for this category.

My Pick – American Factory

What a shame that “Apollo 11” wasn’t nominated.

 

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

Most Likely – Parasite

If you’re going to put money on any category, put it on this one.

My Pick – Parasite

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Most Likely – Bombshell

It’s pretty much a lock in this category. The prosthetic makeup was certainly impressive.

My Pick – Bombshell

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

Most Likely – 1917

Possible Upset – The Irishman

The effects in “The Irishman” were divisive in their effectiveness, “The Lion King” was panned by critics and audience members alike, and Marvel has a terrible track record in this category. “Star Wars” is a has-been here. That really only leaves one option, regardless of the fact that “1917” has the least-obvious (though not least impressive) use of visual effects out of all of the nominees.

My Pick – 1917

 

SOUND MIXING

Most Likely – 1917

Possible Upset – Ford v Ferrari

Both films had excellent sound mixing and editing. The gunshots in “1917” still haunt me, and the roaring engines in “Ford v Ferrari” can still be heard on my most mundane drives. It’s a close match-up between the two, and while there is a world where the sound categories are split or even both go to “Ford v Ferrari,” the reality is that the Academy loves war films, and hates car films. It’s also best to hedge your bets by going with the same pick in both sound categories. If you don’t know the difference between mixing and editing, don’t worry, because neither do some of the Academy members.

Think about it this way – sound editing is choosing the individual sounds, and sound mixing is combining all of the sounds together, i.e. dialogue, action sounds, music, etc. Think of it like baking – each individual component must be measured or weighed out exactly in order to be combined to form the most perfect product. If the categories are split, I would suspect “Ford v Ferrari” to win in editing and “1917” to win in mixing. Historically speaking, war films rarely lose either category, but occasionally the Sound Editing category will go to a non-war film for that year.

My Pick – 1917

 

SOUND EDITING

Most Likely – 1917

Possible Upset – Ford v Ferrari

My Pick – Ford v Ferrari

 

FILM EDITING

Most Likely – Parasite

Possible Upset – Ford v Ferrari

This is one of the toughest categories. “Ford v Ferrari” won the BAFTAs for editing, but the Brits seem to like their racing movies, while the Academy doesn’t. The editing in “Ford v Ferrari” is also very showy and choppy, which in some cases helps to draw more attention away from the other choices. “Parasite” has superb editing. It contains my favorite five-minute montage of the year, and the editing plays a huge role in balancing the shifts in tone that seem so seamless and organic. “The Irishman” also relies heavily on expert editing to keep the daunting run-time from feeling too lethargic.

Notably, “1917” and “Hollywood” were not nominated here, which slightly decreases their chances at winning Best Picture. It’s rare that a film that wins Best Picture doesn’t also get Editing, but “Birdman” did it and it was also a one-take movie (like “1917”). If “Parasite” wins Editing, that only increases the likelihood of it taking the big award at the end of the night.

My Pick – Parasite

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

Most Likely – “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”

Possible Upset – “Stand Up”

Elton and Bernie will probably get the award here. They are well-liked and relevant amongst Academy voters, and Elton throws an after-party that voters like to attend. They also had a great speech at the Golden Globes in which they pointed out how that win was the first that they had ever shared together. It’s just too good of a story to not vote for.

My Pick – “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again

 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Most Likely – Joker (Hildur Guonadottir)

Possible Upset – 1917 (Thomas Newman)

Hildur is having a year. Her scores for “Chernobyl” and “Joker” have been huge hits this year and she has been sweeping her way through the awards season. She was the first woman composer to win the Golden Globe for this category, and she’ll undoubtedly be one of a handful to win the Oscar. The Academy has also confirmed for her to conduct next year’s orchestra for the ceremony, so they’re basically just setting her up to win.

Thomas Newman, poor soul, received his 15th nomination but will yet again walk away empty handed. “1917” deserves to win here and Newman’s score is more impressive in my opinion, but there’s no denying that Hildur’s score was unique and…depressing? Monotone? Poorly utilized in the film? I digress.

My Pick – Joker

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Most Likely – Klaus

Possible Upset – Toy Story 4

Can the Academy actually vote for a film with a “4” in the title? I don’t think so. “Klaus” has separated itself as the front-runner now after winning the BAFTA and Annie awards.

My Pick – Klaus

 

COSTUME DESIGN

Most Likely – Little Women

Possible Upset – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The Academy likes period pieces and dresses, so bet on “Little Women” to get its sole award in this category. Granted, the costume and production design categories often go hand in hand, and based on that logic, “Once Upon a Time” stands a good chance to win both.

My Pick – Little Women

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Most Likely – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Possible Upsets – Parasite or 1917

This is a tough category. Tarantino recreated his Hollywood of the late 1960’s with such creativity and imagination, and some of the props on set were from his own home. It was a very personal project for him, and his passion will likely be enough to sway Academy voters to reward him. Then again, “Parasite” would be my own personal choice to win production design. It’s not as likely, but the detail in the sets and the work done in post-production created a timeless atmosphere with so much to analyze. The sets of “1917” were painstakingly scrutinized in creation because of the one-take factor. Everything had to be mapped out perfectly in order for the technical gimmick of the film to work effectively. 

I can’t see “Once Upon a Time” going home with just one win for Brad Pitt. But if “Parasite” wins…expect big things later on. That would be a telling sign.

My Pick – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Most Likely – Laura Dern

All of the acting categories are basically locks at this point. My own personal choice would be Florence Pugh for “Little Women,” but bet on Dern to easily win here.

My Pick – Laura Dern

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Most Likely – Brad Pitt

He’s had great speeches and deserves the win, even if I enjoyed his performance in “Ad Astra” more. He should have won for “Moneyball” years ago. Now he’s going to be rewarded for portraying a shirtless prick who killed his wife. Go figure.

My Pick – Brad Pitt

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Most Likely – Renee Zellweger

My personal choice would be Scarlett Johansson for “Marriage Story,” but Renee is unlikely to be upset here.

My Pick – Renee Zellweger

 

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Most Likely – Joaquin Phoenix

My personal choice would be Adam Driver for “Marriage Story,” but it’s looking like “Marriage Story” won’t win any awards at all. Joaquin deserves it, and fans of “Joker” will be thrilled to see him win, even if he couldn’t care less about the award or the film.

My Pick – Joaquin Phoenix

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Most Likely – Roger Deakins

Everyone else nominated is basically 5th in line. You thought “Blade Runner: 2049” would be it? You thought Deakins had thrown everything he had into “Blade Runner” at the time? Think again. His work in “1917” is breathtaking, and he deserves to win by a mile.

My Pick – Roger Deakins (duh)

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Most Likely – JoJo Rabbit

Possible Upset – Little Women

“JoJo” has picked up steam as of late after winning the WGA and BAFTA, and there’s a great narrative of having Taika and Bong winning both writing awards, making them the first two people of color to take those home in the same year. “JoJo” was the most inspired and delightful script of the year, so Taika is well deserving of the award. Greta Gerwig could easily win here as well though, as she did at Critic’s Choice, and I hate how people say it would be as a consolation prize for not getting a director nomination (though there’s truth to that). Her script for “Little Women” was fantastic, but it was the fifth adaptation of the classic novel, which may not hold up as well for Academy voters.

My Pick – JoJo Rabbit

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Most Likely – Parasite

Possible Upset – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

It was once upon a time suspected that Tarantino would win this award easily for the third time, but as of late it’s looking like Bong Joon-Ho will take this one home with him. His script for “Parasite” was the best of the year, and Academy voters will likely want to reward Bong outside of just International Feature. “Roma” also won here, which makes an even more compelling case for “Parasite” to follow in its footsteps.

My Pick – Parasite

 

DIRECTING

Most Likely – Sam Mendes (1917)

Possible Upset – Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite)

Sam Mendes directed the hell out of the most personal project of his career, and I genuinely hope he wins here. He’s one of the best and most detail-oriented directors working today. Bong is a master in his own right, but there has been no indication this awards season that he could possibly upset Mendes in this category. 

My Pick – Sam Mendes

 

BEST PICTURE

More Likely – 1917

Possibly – Parasite

My Pick – Parasite

Well…I know all indications point to “1917,” but I can’t help but think that this award could be given to “Parasite” at the end of the night. The passion behind “Parasite” is stronger than it is behind “1917,” though both are excellent films deserving of the award. On a preferential ballot though, “Parasite” has a good shot at upsetting “1917” here, and I can’t shake the feeling that “1917” will have a similar fate as “Saving Private Ryan,” in which Spielberg won Director and most of the technical categories, but not Picture. In the age of the preferential ballot, the directing and picture award have often been split, and the voting body at the Academy has gotten younger and more diverse since just last year. “Parasite” also won the SAG award this year, which is mightily impressive for a foreign film. Personally, I think “Parasite” should, can, and will win here. Fingers crossed.