The favorites for the 92nd Oscars
From comic book drama "Joker" to war epic "1917," it will be hard to choose from among nine films for best picture at this year's Academy Awards. Renée Zellweger and Joaquin Phoenix are best actor favorites.
Awaiting the 2020 Academy Awards
On February 9 at Hollywood's Dolby Theater, Oscars will be dolled out by the academy to what they regard as the best films of the past year. Winning or even being nominated for the ultimate film prize can often be the key to box office success. 2019 saw civil rights road-trip drama "Green Book" named best film, and "The Favorite" take a surprise haul. Will 2020 spring any upsets?
Early favorite: "Joker"
In the prestigious best film category, nine films have been nominated. Three favorites have emerged in recent weeks on the back of awards at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. "Joker," the drama directed by Todd Phillips and starring actor Joaquin Phoenix, who one the Golden Globe for best actor, has eleven nominations in total and is leading the pack.
"1917," the First World War drama by British director Sam Mendes (Oscar-winning director of "Skyfall," "Spectre" and "American Beauty") is closely trailing "Joker" with 10 nominations. The epic about the impossible mission of two English soldiers on the battlefields in northern France recently won big at the BAFTA British film awards, including best film.
Tarantino's ode to Hollywood
Cult director Quentin Tarantino also has a shot at Oscar glory with his film "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." The comedy following the exploits of a B-movie star and his stuntman during the golden age of Hollywood packs plenty of star power, with Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead roles. The genre film celebration has received 10 Oscar nominations.
With his latest mob drama "The Irishman", legendary director Martin Scorsese is back in contention for an Oscar — his 10th best director nomination, after winning for "Departed" in 2007. The mafia epic was also nominated in the best film category. There has been criticism of the all-male best director field — it's the second year running where no women have been nominated.
Leading lady: Renée Zellweger
This year's clear favorite in the best actress is Renée Zellweger, who won best supporting actress for "Cold Mountain" back in 2003. She has already received the Golden Globe for her impressive portrayal of the legendary stage and film star Judy Garland in the film "Judy," and many insiders are now tipping her to win the Oscar.
Top tip: Joaquin Phoenix
In the competition for the title of best actor, it would be surprising if the award went to anyone other than Joaquin Phoenix — who just won the BAFTA and has been widely praised for his virtuoso performance in the comic book drama. His deft portrayal of the eponymous "Joker," at turns sad, violent and witty, should bring Phoenix his first best actor Oscar.
The best original screenplay category will be tightly fought. Quentin Tarantino is nominated for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," while writer and director Noah Baumbach is another frontrunner for his portrait of divorce, "Marriage Story." Like Scorsese's "The Irishman," the film was produced by Netflix and symbolizes the ongoing battle between traditional film studios and new streaming services.
This year the competition is fierce in the best international film category, with movies from Poland, North Macedonia, France, Spain and South Korea competing. One major success at the box office was "Parasite," a black comedy-thriller by South Korean writer and director Bong Joon Ho that's widely tipped to take the honors in 2020. It is nominated for six Oscars and won at the Golden Globes.
A double category win?
The difficult feat of being nominated for best international film and best documentary film was achieved by "Honeyland," a heartfelt, fly-on-the-wall doco from North Macedonia by directors Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska. It tells the intimate story of a nature-loving beekeeper, following her daily joys and struggles. Significant buzz for "Honeyland" makes it a good Oscar bet.