Oscar predictions: Can ‘The Irishman’ take an unusual route to the precious?


I never thought I’d be putting Robert De Niro and Gollum in the same sentence, but that’s where we find ourselves at a moment when “The Irishman” could become the first movie since “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” to win the Oscars for best picture and visual effects.

Here’s a look at how the Oscar races for all those precious crafts categories are shaping up.



Barbara Ling, “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”
Bob Shaw, “The Irishman”
Dennis Gassner, “1917”
Jess Gonchor, “Little Women”
Lee Ha Jun, “Parasite”

On the cusp: Mark Friedberg, “Joker”; Ra Vincent, “Jojo Rabbit”; Donal Woods, “Downton Abbey”; François Audouy, “Ford v. Ferrari”; Craig Lathrop, “The Lighthouse”; Clay A. Griffith, “Dolemite Is My Name”

The meticulously designed modern home in “Parasite” is the movie set of the year, a crucial element in the film’s story of class warfare. A nomination here would signal the movie’s overall strength with Oscar voters, deepening speculation that Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece has a shot at winning best picture.


Roger Deakins, “1917”
Rodrigo Prieto, “The Irishman”
Robert Richardson, “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”
Lawrence Sher, “Joker”
Jarin Blaschke, “The Lighthouse”

On the cusp: Hoyte van Hoytema, “Ad Astra”; Phedon Papamichael, “Ford v Ferrari”; Hong Kyung Pyo, “Parasite”; Robbie Ryan, “Marriage Story”; Jörg Widmer, “A Hidden Life”; Yorick Le Saux, “Little Women”

Since I wrote about this category last month, the war drama “1917” has screened and we can pretty much put this category to rest. Between crafting the film to appear as if it’s one, unbroken take and creating an array of truly astounding images, Deakins delivers on an epic level. The 14-time Oscar nominee finally won his first Oscar two years ago for “Blade Runner 2049.” He’ll need to make room for another trophy.



Ruth E. Carter, “Dolemite Is My Name”
Jacqueline Durran, “Little Women”
Arianne Phillips, “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”
Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson, “The Irishman”
Julian Day, “Rocketman”

On the cusp: Jacqueline Durran and David Crossman, “1917”; Jany Temime, “Judy”; Paul Tazewell, “Harriet”; Mark Bridges, “Joker”; Anna Robbins, “Downton Abbey”; Mayes C. Rubeo, “Jojo Rabbit”

“Downton Abbey’s” Robbins, like production designer Woods, earned Emmy recognition for the show and could well find favor with film academy members too. But I suspect the sight of Taron Egerton wearing an orange devil suit, complete with sequins and feathered wings, in “Rocketman” will remain firmly lodged in Oscar voters’ minds.

Thelma Schoonmaker, editor of "The Irishman."
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)



Thelma Schoonmaker, “The Irishman”
Fred Raskin, “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”
Lee Smith, “1917”
Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker, “Ford v Ferrari”
Nick Houy, “Little Women”

On the cusp: Jinmo Yang, “Parasite”; Jennifer Lame, “Marriage Story”; Jeff Groth, “Joker”; Tom Eagles, “Jojo Rabbit”

It’s hard to take voters in this branch seriously after they nominated “Bohemian Rhapsody” last year, a movie that contained scenes that were so horribly assembled that its own editor disavowed one of them. “Whenever I see it, I want to put a bag over my head,” John Ottman told the Washington Post. And he won the Oscar! Thankfully, Schoonmaker will likely prevail this year, cleansing the acrid memory still lingering.


“Ford v Ferrari”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
“Ad Astra”

On the cusp: “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Irishman,” “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” “Parasite,” “The Lighthouse”

In some perfect alternate universe, “The Lighthouse” sweeps through all these categories and, upon hearing the news, Willem Dafoe’s eyes brighten like he’s up there with the lamp, bathing in its ecstatic glow. (Reminder: Dafoe should be nominated too!)



“Ford v Ferrari”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
“Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood”

On the cusp: “Avengers: Endgame,” “Ad Astra,” “The Irishman,” “Cats,” “Joker,” “Judy,” “Parasite”

The two sound categories don’t always overlap, with music-heavy movies sometimes figuring more prominently in the mixing category. (The editor collects the film’s sounds, including dialogue and effects; the mixer determines how the audience hears those sounds.) That’s why I’m putting “Cats” here, though, as of this writing, it still hasn’t screened. But if it sounds half as good as the mash-up of the “Cats” trailer and Jordan Peele’s “Us” soundtrack, then, by all means, nominate it.



On the cusp: “Rocketman,” “The Irishman,” “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” “1917,” “Dolemite Is My Name”

The last two winners — “Vice” and “Darkest Hour” — have gone to films that transformed actors into famous figures. In other words, don’t bet against “Bombshell.”


“The Irishman”
“The Lion King”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”
“Avengers: Endgame”
“Gemini Man”

On the cusp: “The Aeronauts,” “Alita: Battle Angel,” “Cats,” “Ad Astra,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

Martin Scorsese vs. Marvel. It’s just a battle for the future of cinema, that’s all.