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Buzzmeter: Early expert predictions in the lead-actor Oscar race

Four of our Buzzmeter panel’s early picks for top contenders in the lead-actor Oscar race
AM I A CLOWN TO YOU? Four of the top contenders for lead-acting Oscar nominations in decidedly dramatic roles, according to our esteemed Buzzmeter panel (left to right): Adam Driver in “Marriage Story”; Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker”; Antonio Banderas in “Pain and Glory”; Adam Sandler in “Uncut Gems.”
(A24 / Universal Pictures / Netflix / LD Entertainment)

This early in awards season, many potential contenders haven’t yet registered on the radar - except on the long-range arrays of veteran film journalists, such as the esteemed experts on The Buzzmeter panel. The Envelope convenes these wizards of watching and asks them to take the temperature of the Oscar race throughout the season.

Buzzmeter columnists
(Handout / Los Angeles Times)

At this stage, our panel mixes what they’ve seen, what they’ve heard, what they guess, and what they’d like to get into the conversation to rank how buzzworthy contenders are. As the season wears on, they refine their selections until they’re predicting the Oscar winners. They update their picks frequently. Here are the current contenders with the highest vote totals from the entire panel, followed by each expert’s personal picks.

You can vote for your own slate using the poll accompanying that week’s featured category. If you have write-in candidates, put them in the comments. So far, readers are picking “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” “The Irishman,” “Joker,” “Parasite,” “Jojo Rabbit” and “Marriage Story” as their top six best-picture contenders. Last week, they started picking lead actresses, with Renée Zellweger (“Judy”), Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”), Awkwafina (“The Farewell”), Charlize Theron (“Bombshell”), and Soairse Ronan (“Little Women”) taking the early lead. This week: Voting is open for lead-actor contenders.

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Want the experts’ advice? Think you can do better? Read on!

la_ca_joker_movie_107.JPG
NOT YOUR FATHER’S JOKER: Joaquin Phoenix and director/co-writer Todd Phillips have a very different - perhaps unrecognizable - take on the most famous Bat-villain. The film has polarized, but Phoenix’s performance hasn’t: He’s on many early awards-season lists.
(Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures)

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De Niro, DiCaprio, and ... Adam Sandler? The joke may be on all of them if Joaquin Phoenix can rise to become the first comic-book movie performer to be nominated for best lead actor.

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”
Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”
Robert De Niro, “Irishman”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time …"
Adam Sandler, “Uncut Gems”
Jonathan Pryce, “Two Popes”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

Adam Sandler, “Uncut Gems”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Matthew McConaughey, “Beach Bum”

Tom Mercier, “Synonyms”

“Here’s hoping that Adam Sandler, who should have a couple of Oscar nominations by now (‘Punch-Drunk Love,’ ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’), cracks a ridiculously crowded field.”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

Robert De Niro, “Irishman”

Ian McKellen, “Good Liar”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time …"

“Banderas’ Hollywood popularity will help him out.”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time …"

Adam Sandler, “Uncut Gems”

Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

Robert De Niro, “Irishman”

“It’s not too soon to give Adam Driver his first Oscar, particularly when the work is as good as his bruising, beautiful turn in ‘Marriage Story.’ ”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Robert De Niro, “Irishman”

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

Jonathan Pryce, “Two Popes”

“Adam Driver will definitely score a second consecutive acting nomination. And it seems like it’s between him and Robert De Niro for the win.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Robert De Niro, “Irishman”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time”

“Banderas not only portrays a real person, but it’s his own personal mentor (Pedro Almodóvar, who directs ‘Pain and Glory’) bedeviled by drug addiction, mortality and sexual longings. All hot Oscar buttons.”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Robert De Niro, “Irishman”

Jonathan Pryce, “Two Popes”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

“Joaquin Phoenix looks like a lock, but De Niro is close. They could cancel each other out and Oscar could go to Banderas.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time”

Christian Bale, “Ford v Ferrari”

Antonio Banderas, “Pain & Glory”

“The most competitive race with multiple strong entrants will remain fluid as various stars jockey for position. Even Robert De Niro’s legacy performance in ‘The Irishman’ is not a sure thing, as he’s less showy than his supporting costar Al Pacino. De Niro and Adam Driver as the New York director fighting to live near his son in ‘Marriage Story’ are leading the way, but is there room for Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, et al? Stay tuned.”

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SHE MIGHT GET HAPPY: Renée Zellweger’s turn as icon Judy Garland has her in the fore in the early stages of the Oscar race.
(David Hindley/LD Entertainment/Roadside Attractions)
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Zellweger would be over the rainbow to win her second Oscar, but panelists who’ve seen Johansson’s performance say she’d better not be married to it.

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”
Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”
Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”
Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”
Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”
Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”
Awkwafina, “Farewell”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

Zhao Tao, “Ash Is Purest White”

Elisabeth Moss, “Her Smell”

Mary Kay Place, “Diane”

Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”

Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”

“Given how much voters love a good celebrity meltdown, it would be downright perverse of them not to nominate Elisabeth Moss in ‘Her Smell.’”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

“Can anyone stop Renée Zellweger?”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”

“Lupita Nyong’o staked her claim for this Oscar in March, and I have yet to see a better performance from an actress this year.”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”

Awkwafina, “Farewell”

“Renée Zellweger has dominated the early buzz, but the race may tighten once more voters see ‘Marriage Story.’ ”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Awkwafina, “Farewell”

“Renée won an Oscar for ‘Cold Mountain’ (2003), but a new victory for ‘Judy’ will be sweet delayed justice for Oscarless Garland. When she lost for ‘A Star Is Born,’ Groucho Marx telegraphed Judy, ‘This is the biggest robbery since Brinks!’ ”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”
Julianne Moore, “Gloria Bell”
Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”
Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”
Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”

“Hollywood loves a comeback and loves its own. Zellweger will get it for playing Judy Garland — both actresses have won Oscars (Garland’s was juvenile Oscar).”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Alfre Woodard, “Clemency”

Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”

“Renée Zellweger got out of the gate early with ‘Judy’ as fragile singer Judy Garland at the end of her life. Her comeback narrative could prevail over never-nominated Scarlett Johansson as an actress breaking up with her husband (Adam Driver) in ‘Marriage Story.’ The question is which one sustains itself on the long road to Oscar.”

la_ca_FALL_SNEAKS_2019_EXCLUSIVE_THE_IRISHMAN_MOVIE_98.jpg
AN IRISH HELLO: Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed gangster epic, “The Irishman.” The film’s troubles gaining wide distribution due to disputes between Netflix and theatre owners haven’t prevented it from rocketing to the top of Oscar prognosticators’ lists.
(Netflix)

The big prize is shaping up to be an east-west battle, one way or another. Martin Scorsese’s East-Coast “The Irishman” currently holds a narrow lead over Quentin Tarantino’s West-Coast “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” in our panel’s combined ranking. Meanwhile, imports from South Korea (“Parasite”) and Spain (“Pain and Glory”) are also in the mix.

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“The Irishman”
“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”
“Parasite”
“Marriage Story”
“Little Women”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Ford vs. Ferrari”
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
“The Farewell”
“Joker”
“Pain and Glory”
“1917"
“A Hidden Life”
“Judy”
“The Two Popes”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

“Parasite”

“Ash is the Purest White”

“The Souvenir”

“High Life”

“Her Smell”

“Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood”

“Marriage Story”

“The Irishman”

“Knives Out”

“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”

“An East Coast-West Coast showdown could be looming between ‘The Irishman’ and ‘Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,’ with ‘Marriage Story’ playing the bicoastal referee.”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

“The Irishman”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Ford v. Ferrari”

“Marriage Story”

“Little Women”

“Parasite”

“Pain and Glory”

“Judy”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Downton Abbey”

“Looks like Tarantino vs. Scorsese.”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

“Parasite”

“The Irishman”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Marriage Story”

“Little Women”

“The Farewell”

“Pain and Glory”

“Uncut Gems”

“Ford v. Ferrari”

“A Hidden Life”

“ ‘Roma’ came close last year. Might Bong Joon-ho’s devastating thriller ‘Parasite’ become the first international movie to win best picture? It should.”
Dave Karger, IMDb & TCM

“The Irishman”

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood”

“Little Women”

“1917"

“Parasite”

“The Two Popes”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“Ford vs. Ferrari”

“My biggest curiosity is how many Netflix titles will make it into the final 8 or 9 nominees. Thanks to ‘The Irishman,’ ‘Marriage Story,’ and ‘The Two Popes,’ it could be as many as three.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

“The Irishman”

“Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood”

“Parasite”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“Marriage Story”

“Joker”

“Ford vs. Ferrari”

“Pain & Glory”

“The Two Popes”

“It’s shocking, but no Quentin Tarantino film has ever won Best Picture. That injustice should be the drum beat for the ‘Hollywood’ Oscar campaign.”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

“The Irishman”

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Parasite”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Little Women

“A Hidden Life”

“The Farewell”

“Pain and Glory”

“The Two Popes”

“Looks like the two coasts will be duking it out: ‘The Irishman’ vs. ‘Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’ are the likely top contenders.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

“The Irishman”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Marriage Story”

“Parasite”

“Joker”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Ford v. Ferrari”

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“The Farewell”

“A Hidden Life”

“The top three are two American epics, veteran Martin Scorsese’s ‘Irishman’ (Netflix) and Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time ...’ (Sony), which along with Noah Baumbach’s tour-de-force divorce drama, ‘Marriage Story’ (Netflix), is about show business. Will the broader Academy embrace both Netflix movies? Yes.”

‘Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’
QT’S PERSONAL EPIC: Quentin Tarantino (r), Leonardo DiCaprio (c) and Brad Pitt (l) on the set of “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.”
(Andrew Cooper / Sony Pictures)

Current Hollywood titans may find themselves side-by-side with foreign masters.

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
Boon Joon-Ho, “Parasite”
Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time…"
Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”
Pedro Almodovar, “Pain and Glory”
Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”
Claire Denis, “High Life”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Pedro Almodóvar, “Pain and Glory”

Claire Denis, “High Life”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time ...”

“The academy’s most consistently adventurous and world-cinema-conscious branch might just come through for Bong and Almodóvar.”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Pedro Almodóvar, “Pain and Glory”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time ...”

Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”

Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

“Foreign-language auteurs Bong and Almodóvar could make it in.”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time ...”

Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”

Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”

“‘Parasite’ is Bong at his best, starting as a dark comedy and pivoting to a masterful, insightful horror story of class struggle.”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time…"

Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”

Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”

Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

“Over a decade after exes Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron faced off in this race, I’m wondering if current couple Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig might find themselves competing against each other.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time…"

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”

Pedro Almodovar, “Pain & Glory”

“A victory by a South Korean filmmaker seemed impossible just a few years ago, but voters have recently preferred cool art-house cineastes. That’s great news for Bong Joon-ho thanks to the universal huzzahs for ‘Parasite.’ ”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”

Pedro Almodovar, “Pain & Glory”

Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”

“The mighty Bong Joon-Ho might just edge out Scorsese and Tarantino for the win.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time…"

Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”

Bong Joon-Ho, “Parasite”

Pedro Almodóvar, “Pain & Glory”

“First-timers Bong Joon Ho (‘Parasite’) and Noah Baumbach (‘Marriage Story’) could contend against such vets as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Pedro Almodóvar.”

la-et-mn-once-upon-time-hollywood-fight-scene
IT DOESN’T KATO TO YOUR EXPECTATIONS: Brad Pitt (as Cliff Booth) and Mike Moh (as Bruce Lee, during the time he played “Kato” on “The Green Hornet”) square off in Quentin Tarantino’s often-surprising “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood.”
(ANDREW COOPER/Columbia Pictures)

Will this finally be the fairy-tale ending for Brad Pitt?

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time …"
Al Pacino, “Irishman”
Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day …"
Joe Pesci, “Irishman”
Anthony Hopkins, “Two Popes”
Willem Dafoe, “Lighthouse”
Song Kang-ho, “Parasite”
Shia LeBeouf, “Honey Boy”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time”

Al Pacino, “Irishman”

Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day”

Joe Pesci, “Irishman”

Willem Dafoe, “Lighthouse”

“A reminder that Willem Dafoe should have won this award outright two years ago for ‘The Florida Project.”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

Joe Pesci, “Irishman”

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time”

Al Pacino, “Irishman”

Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day”

Anthony Hopkins, “Two Popes”

“The battle of the P’s: Pacino, Pesci, Pitt.”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time”

Al Pacino, “Irishman”

Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day”

Willem Dafoe, “Lighthouse”

Joe Pesci, “Irishman”

“When you’re as good as Brad Pitt is in ‘Once Upon a Time,’ you don’t need to campaign.”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time …"

Al Pacino, “Irishman”

Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day ...”

Joe Pesci, “Irishman”

Anthony Hopkins, “Two Popes”

“Arguably the most crowded category this year. I could see four of the five slots going to actors from ‘The Irishman’ and ‘Marriage Story.’ ”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

Song Kang-ho, “Parasite”

Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day ...”

Willem Dafoe, “Lighthouse”

Al Pacino, “Irishman”

Shia LaBeouf, “Honey Boy”

“At least one of the ‘Parasite’ actors must be nominated and may very well win. Let’s bet on the ‘smelly’ chauffeur to drive this home.”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time …"

Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day …"

Anthony Hopkins, “Two Popes”

Al Pacino, “Irishman”

Joe Pesci, “Irishman”

“Pitt probably will win this category, though perennial Oscar winner Tom Hanks is close. Anthony Hopkins gave the best performance though.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time …"

Al Pacino, “Irishman”

Joe Pesci, “Irishman”

Tom Hanks, “Beautiful Day …"

Anthony Hopkins, “Two Popes”

“Veterans collide as Al Pacino and Joe Pesci (‘Irishman’), Willem Dafoe (‘Lighthouse’), Anthony Hopkins (‘Two Popes’), Tom Hanks (‘Beautiful Day’) and frontrunner Brad Pitt (‘Once Upon a Time’) try to land slots.”

la-et-mn-hustlers-movie
MO MONEY, MO PROBLEMS: Jennifer Lopez could grab her first Oscar nomination as the criminal mastermind in the fact-based “Hustlers.”
(STXfilms)

J. Lo just might “Hustle” her way to an Oscar.

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”
Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
Annette Bening, “Report”
Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time …"
Zhao Shuzhen, “Farewell”
Agyness Deyn, “Her Smell”
Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”
Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, “Give Me Liberty”
Meryl Streep, “Laundromat”
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, “Give Me Liberty”

Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time …"

Agyness Deyn, “Her Smell”

“I suspect you could stack this category with the actresses from ‘Little Women,’ but I’ll revisit once I’ve seen it.”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time …"

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Annette Bening, “Report”

Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”

“Would love to see Maggie Smith sneak in there.”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Zhao Shuzhen, “Farewell”

Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time …"

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Annette Bening, “Report”

“One show-stopping scene in a movie is often enough to win this Oscar. Laura Dern has two in ‘Marriage Story.’ She’s going to be tough to beat.”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Annette Bening, “Report”

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Zhao Shuzhen, “Farewell”

Meryl Streep, “Laundromat”

“Annette Bening will certainly become a five-time nominee, but she may be denied that first-ever victory by Laura Dern.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

Annette Bening, “Report”

Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Zhou Shuzhen, “Farewell”

Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

“Attention, Oscar voters: Annette Bening has never won. Annette Bening has never won. Are you listening?”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”

Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time”

Annette Bening, “Report”

“It may be Laura Dern’s year — and with roles in both ‘Marriage Story’ and ‘Little Women,’ she has twice the chance of being nominated.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Annette Bening, “Report”

Margot Robbie, “Once Upon a Time”

Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Zhao Shuzhen, “Farewell”

“ ‘I, Tonya’ nominee Margot Robbie is competing with herself as Sharon Tate in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ and as a newswoman who fights Roger Ailes at Fox News in ‘Bombshell.’ So is Laura Dern, who will earn Brownie points as Marmee in ‘Little Women’ but will land a nod for her hard-driving divorce lawyer in ‘Marriage Story.’ ”

‘The Irishman’
A HOFFA YOU CAN’T REFUSE: Our panel says Steven Zaillian’s script for “The Irishman” may prove irresistible to the academy.
(Niko Tavernise / Netflix)

“The Irishman” (adapted by four-time nominee Steven Zaillian - a winner for ‘“Schindler’s List” - from Charles Brandt’s book, “I Heard You Paint Houses”) is the frontrunner, but “Toy Story 4" isn’t playing around - two others in the series were nominated for writing Oscars.

“Irishman”
“Toy Story 4"
“Two Popes”
“Little Women”
“Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
“Joker”
“Jojo Rabbit”
“Transit”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

“Irishman”

“Transit”

“Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“Toy Story 4"

“Laundromat”

“In a light year (perhaps even a Buzz Lightyear) for adaptations, ‘Toy Story 4’ could earn a nomination here, as ‘Toy Story’ and ‘Toy Story 3’ did before it.
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

“Irishman”

“Two Popes”

“Little Women”

“Toy Story 4"

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Hard to see anyone beating ‘The Irishman.’”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

“Irishman”

“Little Women”

“Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“Two Popes”

“Transit”

“I can’t vouch for the veracity of various incidents in ‘The Irishman.’ But its delicate, deeply moving portrait of regret rings absolutely true and will linger long after the film ends.”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

“Irishman”

“Toy Story 4"

“Little Women”

“Two Popes”

“Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“Steven Zaillian is an academy favorite, and his sprawling ‘Irishman’ screenplay could prove too impressive to ignore.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

“Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“Joker”

“Toy Story 4"
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

“Two Popes”

“Irishman”

“Little Women”

“Joker”

“Toy Story 4"

“The top two will be Steve Zaillian for ‘The Irishman’ and Anthony McCarten for ‘The Two Popes.’ Both are academy favorites.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

“Irishman”

“Two Popes”

“Joker”

“Toy Story 4"

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Heavyweights Andrew Stanton (‘Toy Story 4,’ with Pixar recruit Stephany Folsom), Anthony McCarten (‘The Two Popes’), Steve Zaillian (‘The Irishman’) and Greta Gerwig (‘Little Women’) will contend with Todd Phillips and Scott Silver’s controversial ‘Joker.’ ”

‘Marriage Story’
THE TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION: Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver are going in separate directions in “Marriage Story.”
(Netflix)

Amid the pyrotechnics of Tarantino’s “Hollywood” epic and the crazy class warfare of “Parasite,” Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” is a steady, solid contender.

“Marriage Story”
“Parasite”
“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”
“Pain and Glory”
“Ford v Ferrari”
“Farewell”
“Knives Out”

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

“Parasite”

“Knives Out”

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

“Marriage Story”

“Peterloo”

“In a remarkable year for original scripts, Quentin Tarantino could tie Woody Allen for most wins (three) in this category.”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

“Pain and Glory”

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Parasite”

“Great to see such a diverse group of scripts.”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

“Parasite”

“Marriage Story”

“Knives Out”

“Pain and Glory”

“Farewell”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

“Marriage Story”

“Parasite”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Pain and Glory”

“Farewell”

“Noah Baumbach will have to fend off impressive international contenders Bong Joon-ho and Pedro Almodóvar to win his first Academy Award.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

“Parasite”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Marriage Story”

“Pain and Glory”

“Ford v Ferrari”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

“Marriage Story”

“Parasite”

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Farewell”

“Booksmart”

“The win will probably go to Noah Baumbach for ‘Marriage Story,’ though Bong Joon-Ho and ‘Parasite’ may be a very close second.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

“Marriage Story”

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Parasite”

“Pain and Glory”

“Real life informed auteurs Lulu Wang (‘The Farewell’), Noah Baumbach (‘Marriage Story’) and Quentin Tarantino’s twisty ‘Once Upon a Time ...’ ”

Toy Story 4
WOODY AND A FORK IN THE ROAD: Will “Toy Story 4" be the last roundup for Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks)? The franchise’s second-straight more-than-billion-dollar gross implies it’ll still be around one way or another (Forky voiced by Tony Hale).
(Walt Disney Studios)

“Toy Story 4" is the early favorite before “Frozen 2" has begun screening, but the gorgeous “Weathering with You” has impressed enough to not only contend for animated feature, but to be Japan’s official selection for international film. Meanwhile, France boasts a number of acclaimed contenders.

“Toy Story 4"
“Swallows of Kabul” (France)
(tie) “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”
(tie) “I Lost My Body” (France)
“Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (France/Romania/Belgium)
“Funan” (France/Luxembourg/Belgium)
“Angry Birds Movie 2"
“Frozen 2"
“Weathering with You” (Japan)

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

“I Lost My Body”

“Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (France/Romania/Belgium)

“Swallows of Kabul” (France)

“Toy Story 4"

“Angry Birds Movie 2"

“Is there a reanimated feature category where we could put ‘The Lion King’?”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

“Toy Story 4"

“Swallows of Kabul” (France)

“Funan” (France/Luxembourg/Belgium)

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

‘Toy Story’ one more time.
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times

“I Lost My Body”

“Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (France/Romania/Belgium)

“Swallows of Kabul” (France)

“Angry Birds Movie 2"

“Toy Story 4"

“I Lost My Body’ will soon be streaming on Netflix, giving people the chance to see why it’s going to win all the critics’ prizes.”
Dave Karger
IMDb and Turner Classic Movies

“Toy Story 4"

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“I Lost My Body”

“Frozen 2"

“Addams Family”

“This race really boils down to ‘Toy Story 4' and everything else. I don’t see how any other entry even has a chance to win.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

“Toy Story 4"

“Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (France/Romania/Belgium)

“Swallows of Kabul” (France)

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“I Lost My Body”
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

“Toy Story 4"

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“Swallows of Kabul” (France)

“Funan” (France/Luxembourg/Belgium)

“I Lost My Body”

“ ‘Toy Story 4' really has no significant competition here. Woody’s swan song sure seems like a lock for the Oscar.”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

“Toy Story 4"

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“Funan” (France/Luxembourg/Belgium)

“Weathering with You” (Japan)

“Marona’s Fantastic Tale” (France/Romania/Belgium)

“It’s the battle of the sequels, with Disney Animation’s ‘Frozen 2’ going against Pixar’s ‘Toy Story 4’ and DreamWorks’ ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.’ ”

Parasite
OUT OF THE BOX: South Korean master filmmaker Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” is a twisting, surprising, biting film only he could make.
(NEON)

One of the buzziest films of the season - in any language - is South Korean master Bong Joon-ho’s hairpin-turning, darkly comic thriller, “Parasite.”

“Parasite” (South Korea)
“Pain and Glory” (Spain)
“Les Misérables” (France)
“Beanpole” (Russia)
“The Chambermaid” (Mexico)
“Honeyland” (North Macedonia)
“Tel Aviv on Fire” (Luxembourg)
“Monos” (Colombia)
“Weathering with You” (Japan)

Justin Chang
Los Angeles Times

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Pain & Glory” (Spain)

“Les Misérables” (France)

“Beanpole” (Russia)

“Honeyland” (North Macedonia)

“The fact that France had to choose ‘Les Misérables’ over ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire,’ or ‘Proxima,’ tells you what’s wrong with the academy’s outmoded one-film-per-country rule.”
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times

“Pain & Glory” (Spain) - tie

“Tel Aviv on Fire” (Luxembourg) - tie

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Les Misérables” (France)

“Honeyland” (North Macedonia)

“Another battle of the P’s, with ‘Parasite’ and ‘Pain and Glory.’ ”
Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Times/The Envelope

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Pain & Glory” (Spain)

“Monos” (Colombia)

“Les Misérables” (France)

“The Chambermaid” (Mexico)

”‘Parasite’ will win this. ‘Parasite’ should win everything.”
Dave Karger
IMDb & TCM

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Pain & Glory” (Spain)

“Beanpole” (Russia)

“Les Misérables” (France)

“The Chambermaid” (Mexico)

“‘Parasite’ is the critical favorite, but don’t ignore the emotional pull of Almodóvar’s ‘Pain and Glory,’ which may well also boast a best actor nod.”
Tom O’Neil
Gold Derby

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Pain & Glory” (Spain)

“Les Misérables” (France)

“The Chambermaid” (Mexico)

“Honeyland” (North Macedonia)
Claudia Puig
KPCC’s FilmWeek

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Pain & Glory” (Spain)

“The Chambermaid” (Mexico)

“Beanpole” (Russia)

“Les Misérables” (France)

“The top two contenders are ‘Parasite’ and ‘Pain and Glory,’ which are different in almost every aspect. Will the academy go for melancholy or maverick?”
Anne Thompson
IndieWire

“Parasite” (South Korea)

“Pain & Glory” (Spain)

“Les Misérables” (France)

“Weathering with You” (Japan)

“Beanpole” (Russia)

“Lauded Macedonian documentary ‘Honeyland’ will vie with Cannes jury-prize winner ‘Les Misérables’ (Ladj Ly, France), actor-winner ‘Pain and Glory’ (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain) and Palme d’Or-winner ‘Parasite’ (Bong Joon Ho, South Korea).”


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