Torch

Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, "Joker" 

I want to believe that Adam Driver’s performance as the second-half of a struggling married couple in “Marriage Story” is enough to win him this award. However, I don’t feel that this is his year in the eyes of the Academy. Who do I think will win? I think that the slew of awards that he has been receiving these past couple of months speak for themselves, but the consensus seems to be leaning toward Joaquin Phoenix as the title character in “Joker” as the winner of this award. Many people have compared his performance to that of Heath Ledger’s as the same character in “The Dark Knight”, for which he won the Oscar posthumously in 2009. I don’t see this as a fair comparison, as Phoenix’s performance focuses on the events that lead the character of Arthur to become the Joker in the first place. They are both portraying the same person, yet two totally different characters. Phoenix’s portrayal was a great one, and I think the Academy will recognize that. 

Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, "Little Women" 

This category has so many amazing women in it that predicting one winner is especially difficult. They are all in a wide variety of different genres and have their own strengths. However, the one actress that stands out among the rest for me, and who I feel will likely win the award, is Saoirse Ronan. She’s only 25 years old and this is already her fourth Oscar nomination. She is immensely talented, and her portrayal of Jo March in “Little Women” this year only elevated that fact. She brought a new level of dignity and respect to the character that I didn’t see in previous adaptations of the film or even in the novel. Jo is a character that is extremely sure of herself and what she believes in, and Ronan portrayed this unshaking faithfulness in oneself extraordinarily well. If she doesn’t walk home with a trophy this year, I will be extremely disappointed. 

Best Director: Bong Joon Ho, "Parasite" 

Direction wise, there is much to praise about all of the men in this category. Since Greta Gerwig can’t win this award for her work on “Little Women” due to the absence of female nominees, the only logical choice would be Bong Joon Ho for his direction of the film “Parasite.” I don’t think that the film will win Best Picture overall, so I feel this will be the Academy’s way of making up for that. Also, the direction of this movie is remarkable and it is one of my favorites of the year. He has been passed up for his directorial work in the past. I thoroughly enjoyed his films “Snowpiercer” (2013) and “Okja” (2017), and felt that they were severely underappreciated. He is a fantastic director and one that is finally receiving the recognition that he deserves. His ability to write and shoot a story in a way that elevates the characters and experience for the audience is something that is extremely evident in “Parasite”. Bong Joon Ho definitely deserves this and every other award he is up for this year. 

Best Supporting Actor: Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood"

I’m just going to get right to the point with this one, as I feel like there really is only one clear winner in this category. Brad Pitt’s performance in “Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood” was one of his best recently and certainly the best in the film as a whole. That’s not to say that the other nominated actors didn’t have notable performances as well. I just feel that overall, the one that I will remember for some time is Pitt’s. I can easily see myself forgetting about the performances in “The Irishman,” and I have already forgotten about “The Two Popes” if I’m being honest. Pitt’s performance was fun, engaging and something that is truly memorable. If he doesn’t win, I could see the award going to Al Pacino for “The Irishman”. The Academy has a history of giving awards to older actors for what seems to me like only the fact that they are old, and I could see them doing that again this year. Here’s hoping Pitt takes home the trophy.

Best Supporting Actress: Florence Pugh, "Little Women"

The women in this category were a shock to me, as I didn’t feel that most of them had very memorable performances this year. That’s not to say that they were bad performances, just that the actresses have all had much better roles in the past. Laura Dern, for example, is gaining a lot of praise for her performance in “Marriage Story,” yet I see this as one of her most forgettable roles. Out of all of the women in this category, Florence Pugh’s performance as Amy March in “Little Women” is the one that I see as the most worthy of critical praise. She really took one of the most disliked characters in the story and gave her a new depth and personality that has gained Amy new appreciation from fans everywhere. It was truly an outstanding performance and one that helps to showcase her versatility as an actress when put up against her performance in “Midsommar” (2019). That being said, I still feel that the Academy will continue the trend and award Laura Dern this award. 

Best Original Screenplay: "Parasite"

Original screenplay is a category that I’ve always found to be one of my favorites. It’s extremely refreshing to go to the movies and be able to watch something that isn’t another remake or a continuation of an already established franchise. My pick for the winner this year would have to be “Parasite.” It’s a truly unique story and the fact that a foreign film is gaining this much attention is astonishing. Even seeing it in the listings of showtimes at my local theater was a pleasant surprise. The story is one that I will not forget for a long time, and is certainly one of my favorites of last year. I wouldn’t be upset if “Knives Out” or “1917” won in this category either, but I do strongly feel that this one belongs to “Parasite.”

Best Picture: "Parasite"

The most coveted award of them all. I have only ever predicted the winner correctly one time, as the Academy likes to throw giant curveballs with which films they give the award in this category (I’m looking at you, “Green Book.”) There is such a mixed bag of movies nominated this time around that trying to understand the mind of the Academy is almost pointless. On one hand, I truly hope that “Parasite” can win it. I know this is naive, and will likely not happen, but a girl can dream. The movie is so well executed in every aspect that it seems like a no-brainer. Which is precisely why it won’t win. On the other hand, I can only hope that “Joker” doesn’t take home the trophy in this category. It wasn’t a bad film, but there are eight better ones nominated in the same category. The film that I really think will win this year is “1917.” It’s a technical achievement as well as a narrative one, and I think it’s just a safe enough choice where I might come out of this award season with two total correct predictions in this category. I’m still holding out hope for “Parasite” until that envelope is opened, though. 

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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