What Are Academy Members Pondering As Oscar Voting Opens?


Yesterday, voting officially began for the Academy Awards, with nominations set to be announced in just ten days. Between now and January 13th, decisions by Oscar voters are going to be made. They’re going to be made in the next few days, actually, as the voting period closes for members of the Academy on January 7th. This short period is going to determine who and what the next set of nominees are. So, with that being said, today is a good day to run down what Academy members are pondering. With such a short season this time around, the choices made this week/weekend could easily hold true next month at the big show.

Acting wise, no category appears locked up, even with the Screen Actors Guild having announced their nominees. They don’t usually correlate exactly anyway, so there’s room to maneuver here. Best Actor seems to have three locks in Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Adam Driver for Marriage Story, and Joaquin Phoenix for Joker. Best Actress really seems like it’s going to just defer to Renee Zellweger for Judy, with the rest of the field somewhat fluid. For the Supporting categories, it’s similar. Best Supporting Actor is going to be a season long battle between Joe Pesci for The Irishman and Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Al Pacino, also for The Irishman hoping to play spoiler. Best Supporting Actress is going to be Laura Dern for Marriage Story, and everyone aside from Jennifer Lopez for Hustlers is vulnerable. One of these categories will have a shock. We just don’t know which one. Does Adam Sandler slip into Actor for Uncut Gems? Does Scarlett Johansson end up with double nominations in Actress and Supporting Actress? There are lots of questions remaining, even with SAG having chimed in.

In terms of directors and screenwriters, voters won’t really have the Directors Guild or the Writers Guild to rely on. Yes, DGA and WGA are announcing right as ballots are due, so especially with Best Director, a big snub is quite possible. The presumed five have been, for a little bit now, Noah Baumbach for Marriage Story, Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite, Sam Mendes for 1917, Martin Scorsese for The Irishman, and Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with the latter two the frontrunners. Could Parasite pull the upset? Will Baumbach or even Mendes (maybe both) be upended by Greta Gerwig for Little Women? What about Todd Phillips for Joker? Not really having DGA could lead to another Ben Affleck type snub. The same goes for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay, where The Two Popes is officially going to be Adapted at the Oscars, after having to compete in Original for part of the latter half of the season.

Below the line, no one film feels like the clear frontrunner yet. It may be The Irishman or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the two presumed big shots for the Academy Awards this year, but watch out for 1917. If you’re looking for a surprise, maybe Parasite over-performs? Furthermore, the buzz is building for Uncut Gems at the perfect moment, so perhaps it slips in somewhere?

Lastly, there’s the Best Picture race, which is also lacking in a guild. The Producers Guild won’t announce their PGA nominees until the last day of voting, just like the DGA, which is setting us up for some potential surprises. The above situations will also inform this one, especially if you’re looking for Parasite to potentially show a sign of strength and make a move ahead of The Irishman or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Those three seem like the true contenders for Picture, with 1917 and Marriage Story one step down. Then, it’s a question of if the passion for Bombshell, Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, and Little Women proves enough. Watch out here for the Uncut Gems shocker too, especially since PGA won’t be able to dissuade fans of the film. Frankly, anything is possible!

So, there we are. Votes are currently being made, so all that’s left to do is hold on and see what happens. Sit tight for the results in a mere ten days…

Stay tuned to see who and what receive Oscar nominations on January 13th!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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