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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 11 months ago

Critic's Picks

Who's expected to win the Oscar, and who should

  This year's Academy Award nominations are as eclectic as they are exceptional. High-performance actors, daring directors and those behind the scenes will be honored and on display. As always, expect the unexpected during the ultimate celebration of filmmaking at its best. The envelopes, please...



Laura Dern's role as a high-power divorce lawyer in "Marriage Story" was not a lovable character, but people loved Dern in the role.

Kathy Bates   "Richard Jewell"

Laura Dern   "Marriage Story"

Scarlett Johansson   "Jojo Rabbit"

Florence Pugh   "Little Women"

Margot Robbie   "Bombshell"


Our Pick: As a young, naïve, wide-eyed wannabe anchor for Fox News, Margot Robbie steals the film in what little time she appears on screen. When her character falls prey to sexual advances by Roger Ailes, her entire demeanor is visibly altered. The overwhelming shame is so palpable, it breaks your heart.

Most Likely: Laura Dern, as a feisty, high-powered divorce lawyer goes for the jugular. And it smarts.



Brad Pitt seems to be cruising to the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category for his work in "Once Upon a TIme... in Hollywood."

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 Hollywood"


Our Pick: Brad Pitt is one cucumber-cool dude as an aging stuntman who wreaks some serious havoc on Manson family members. His performance is so authentic, we're not quite sure he's acting. At age 56, Pitt's hotter than ever and on a roll.

Most Likely: Pitt has already received numerous awards but watch out for Joe Pesci, coaxed out of retirement, as a ruthless crime boss. It's familiar territory.



It's a tight field in the Best Actress in a Lead Role category but Renee Zellweger may have the edge for her portrayal of Judy Garland in the biopic "Judy."

Cynthia Erivo   "Harriet"

Scarlett Johansson   "Marriage Story"

Saoirse Ronan   "Little Women"

Renee Zellweger   "Judy"

Charlize Theron   "Bombshell"


Our  Pick: Rene Zellweger is back with a vengeance in a very good way. Her portrayal of the late, great Judy Garland is physically and introspectively astounding. And she can belt out tunes with such raw emotion, it literally brings tears to your eyes. 

Most Likely: Renee Zellweger looks like a shoe-in but watch out for dark horse Charlize Theron in her spot-on portrayal of Fox News' Megyn Kelly.



Joaquin Phoenix is the odds-on favorite in the Best Actor in a Lead Role category in "Joker," also a top contender for Best Picture.

Antonio Banderas   "Pain and Glory"

Leonardo DiCaprio   "Once Upon a Hollywood”

Adam Driver   "Marriage Story"

Joaquin Phoenix   "Joker"

Jonathan Pryce   "The Two Popes"


Our Pick: Joaquin Phoenix, as an evolving nihilist who desperately seeks recognition, is one of the best performances in moviemaking history. As his character becomes more despicable at every dark turn, we can't help feeling compassion for such a damaged soul. Phoenix is an actor unlike any other and deserves to be recognized for being just that. 

Most Likely: Joaquin Phoenix, hands down



Among some fierce competition, Sam Mendes is sen as a frontrunner in the Best Director category for "1917." Naturally, the film also considered a favorite for Best Picture.

Martin Scorsese   "The Irishman"

Quentin Tarantino   "Once Upon a Hollywood"

Bong Joon-ho   "Parasite"

Sam Mendes   "1917"

Todd Phillips   "Joker"


Our Pick: Quentin Tarantino's love letter to Hollywood is perfection on every level. He knows the turf and serves it up brilliantly. Attention to detail has always been his forte and assembling outstanding casts is signature to his work. But best of all, Tarantino never fails to shock his audience when they least expect it. He just gets it.

Most Likely: Sam Mendes' war film is unique. It's intimate, visually astonishing and frightening.



"Ford v Ferrari"

"The Irishman"

"Jojo Rabbit"


"Little Women"

"Once Upon a Hollywood"

"Marriage Story"




Our Pick: "Joker" presses buttons in us that we didn't know existed. Joaquin Phoenix compares watching it to taking a Rorschach test. Societal issues are examined and an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness permeates the psyche of a man descending into madness. We don't necessarily want to take the journey with him, but it's not an option. In fact, we're left wanting more.

Most Likely: "1917" because it's a jaw-dropping cinematic masterpiece destined to become a classic.


The 92nd Academy Awards will air on Sunday, February 9 at 8 p.m. on ABC 

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