HOLLYWOOD─It seemed just yesterday the nominees for the 2020 Academy Awards were announced, and we’re already less than 1 week away from the actual awards being handed out. Normally I would do a breakdown of the predictions of the MAJOR SIX as I call them (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor), but not this year. Why? I feel like this might be the most predictable acting race I’ve witnessed in years. I would be stunned, and I mean utterly stunned if any of the people I’m about to predict did not walk away with Oscar in a week. How so?

Joaquin Phoenix delivered one of the greatest performances that I’ve witnessed on the big screen in decades. It simply left me speechless. Anyone else winning Best Actor would be a slap in the face to what great acting is. Renee Zellweger is a lock for her transformation as Judy Garland in “Judy” and she really doesn’t have much competition. The Academy loves performances like this and I don’t see an upset happening, even though I thought Charlize Theron was more enthralling in her portrayal as Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell.” Laura Dern has steamrolled the competition for Best Supporting Actress for her work in “Marriage Story.”

If there was ever any races where surprises ‘could’ transpire it would be Supporting Actress or Supporting Actor. However, I really don’t see that taking place in 2020. With that said Brad Pitt looks poised to earn his first Academy Award for acting for his supporting role in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Like I said, he has competition, but I just don’t see anyone unseating the actor from victory, but it’s possible.

So let’s talk about the two races where, there is no certain lock: Best Picture and Best Director. Best Director is an interesting one because we’ve had a mix bag of winners this awards season, but I think this is a two-person race between Sam Mendes for “1917” and Bong Joon-ho for “Parasite.” Martin Scorsese does exceptional work for “The Irishman,” but the buzz on that movie has dwindled in recent weeks. Todd Phillips delivered something special with “Joker,” but the Academy giving the Oscar to that movie, I just don’t’ see it transpiring people. As for Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” was entertaining, but I’ve seen better from the director.

Mendes recently won the Director’s Guild of America prize, but “1917” is not a memorable movie in my opinion, it’s a technical accomplishment, but slightly forgettable if you ask me. Joon-ho’s work on “Parasite” is much more exciting. It’s a movie you want to talk about and it’s a movie that has an interesting shift in the narrative that you do not see coming. Yes, it’s in subtitles, but the fact that it won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble says a ton, and I thought the movie was amazing. So I’m placing my bet on Bong Joon-ho, where Mendes could deliver the upset.

So Best Picture, where do we actually start? We have nine films yet again, but how many actually have a shot of winning the top prize. Maybe 2-3 at most, the movies this year were ok, but nothing explosive for me. I loved “Joker” and thought it was one of the best movies of 2019, but the Academy awarding that movie with the top prize when it overlooked the epic “The Dark Knight” is never going to happen. “Little Women,” “Jojo Rabbit” and “Ford v. Ferrari” are just lucky to be in the big dance.  The five flicks that should have been nominated if only five films were to be I the category would include: “Marriage Story,” “1917,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “Parasite” and “The Irishman.”

Take “Hollywood” out because I don’t think it’s a better movie than “Parasite,” “1917,” “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman.” In terms of losing steam, “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman” have not seen any big victories this awards season, which means like Best Director, Best Picture is a two-person race between “Parasite” and “1917.” In recent years, the Best Picture and Best Director prize has been split, but I think 2020 will see a previous trend come back to fruition. The Best Director and Best Picture will be the same. If Mendes wins for Best Director, than “1917” will win Best Picture. If Bong Joon-ho wins for Best Director, “Parasite” will be the first foreign language film to win Best Picture.

My gut is telling me “1917” will win Best Picture, but my instinct tells me “Parasite” will be the victor. So I have to go with “Parasite” for Best Picture. I hate to say this, but these are the ONLY two categories at the upcoming Academy Awards are an eagerly hoping will deliver some surprises and no predictability.  We will not have to wait long America, because the awards will be handed out on Sunday, February 9. So who do you think will be victorious? Do you agree with my picks?