Academy Awards predictions

Film+Critic+Hunter+Friesen+makes+his+predictions+for+this+Sunday%E2%80%99s+92nd+Academy+Awards+in+the+categories+of+Best+Supporting+Actor%2C+Best+Supporting+Actress%2C+Best+Leading+Actor%2C+Best+Leading+Actress%2C+Best+Original+Screenplay%2C+Best+Adapted+Screenplay%2C+Best+Director+and+Best+Motion+Picture.

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Film Critic Hunter Friesen makes his predictions for this Sunday’s 92nd Academy Awards in the categories of Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Motion Picture.

HUNTER FRIESEN, Film Critic

Writer’s Note: There are dozens of precursor award shows leading up to the Oscars that factor heavily when making predictions for the races. Notable precursor awards are the Golden Globes, SAG, PGAs, Critics Choice and BAFTAs.

This Sunday, Feb. 9, will mark the 92nd edition of the Academy Awards as it honors what it deems the best films of 2019. As the ceremony draws near and the ballots are tallied up, here are my predictions for each of the above-the-line categories.

Best Supporting Actor

NOMINEES: Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Brad Pitt

He may already have an Oscar for producing, but Brad Pitt still doesn’t have an acting award to his name, which is something the Academy will look to rectify this coming Sunday. Having already swept the award season with his zen-like role as Cliff Booth in “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” Pitt is primed to walk up those stairs and claim the statuette that has eluded him all these years.

Best Supporting Actress

NOMINEES: Kathy Bates, Laura Dern, Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Margot Robbie

Just like Pitt, Laura Dern has been overdue for an acting award for a few decades now. So far this season, every awarding body has seized the opportunity to recognize her for her career-defining work in “Marriage Story.” Also, there isn’t a solid second place dark horse. This is one of the few categories that is a virtual lock.

Best Leading Actor

NOMINEES: Antonio Banderas, Leonardo DiCaprio, Adam Driver, Joaquin Phoenix, Jonathan Pryce

What seemed to be a tight race between Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix at the start of the season has dissolved into utter domination by the latter. Phoenix’s mesmerizing turn as the titular Clown Prince of Crime has netted him wins at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, SAG and BAFTAs. He is now firmly planted as the one to beat. Plus, he has the overdue factor that gives voters just another reason to name him on their ballots.

Best Leading Actress

NOMINEES: Cynthia Erivo, Scarlett Johansson, Saoirse Ronan, Charlize Theron, Renée Zellweger

Already with an Oscar to her name, Renée Zellweger is as close to a sure thing to win her second come Sunday night. Even though the film itself wasn’t well reviewed, her performance as the great Judy Garland received universal acclaim and prominent awards attention. Like the Supporting Actress category, no other nominee seems strong enough to steal this is one from her. Take Zellweger to the bank and prepare to cash in.

Best Original Screenplay

NOMINEES: “1917,” “Knives Out,” “Marriage Story,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” “Parasite”

Currently, Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” has replaced Quentin Tarantino and “Hollywood” as the frontrunner to take home the prize. Tarantino picked up the Golden Globe and Critics Choice early, but Joon-ho has surged late with back-to-back important wins at the Writers Guild and BAFTAs. Tarantino has also won this award twice before, which may produce voter fatigue against him. If I were to place a bet, I would put it on Joon-ho, but I wouldn’t feel very confident in doing it.

Best Adapted Screenplay

NOMINEES: “Jojo Rabbit,” “Joker,” “Little Women,” “The Irishman,” “The Two Popes”

One of the hardest categories to predict, Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” and Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” are the two strongest contenders here. After erroneously snubbing Gerwig for Best Director, voters may feel more compelled to award her here. Waititi is just as loved as Gerwig though, and there is a small contingent of extremely passionate voters behind his anti-hate satire. Just like the original screenplay category, you can flip a coin between the two of them. I’m going with Gerwig, but that may change a couple of times come Sunday.

Best Director

NOMINEES: Bong Joon-ho, Sam Mendes, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino

Bong Joon-ho and Sam Mendes are neck and neck here as they each have been showered with awards this season, most notably with a tie between them at the Critics Choice. Despite being a previous winner in this category, Mendes does have a clear advantage with his string of wins at the Golden Globes, Directors Guild and BAFTAs. Joon-ho is capable of pulling off the upset, but it seems Mendes has this in the bag.

Best Motion Picture

NOMINEES: “1917,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Joker,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story,” “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” ‘’Parasite,” “The Irishman”

At this final stage in the awards season, it’s between “1917” and “Parasite” taking the top prize. “Parasite” is trying to make history as the first foreign-language film ever to win Best Picture. It seems likely it could pull that feat off as it picked up other major nominations along with the coveted SAG Ensemble award. “1917” is right in this race as well with its Golden Globe, PGA and BAFTA wins. It will come down to the wire with my prediction leaning towards the more conventional “1917” being crowned the ultimate winner.