For the sake of these rankings, I am only including movies that have 2019 posted as their projected release date on IMDb. That way, we are not stuck with speculating on movies that aren’t even in pre-production yet. Here are a few movies that were on last year’s predictions that got delayed and weren’t released in 2018. I don’t feel like breaking them down again, but they still are absolutely contenders if they are indeed getting released this year:
Christoph Waltz’s Georgetown
Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria Bell
Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman
David Gordon Green’s Newsflash
Anthony Maras’s Hotel Mumbai
The Predicted Ten (I predict 8 will get nominated)
1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino) – I couldn’t really justify putting anything else above Tarantino’s Hollywood epic at the time of the Charles Manson murders. The Academy loves movies about Hollywood, and QT is the ideal choice for this material.
2. The Goldfinch (John Crowley) – Crowley’s last film was nominated in this category (Brooklyn), and this movie appears to be in the same tradition. It is about a boy whose mother is killed in a bombing and gets taken in by a wealthy New York family. It sounds like the exact type of character drama that is nominated here consistently.
3. High Flying Bird (Steven Soderbergh) – The movie is about a sports agent who pitches a controversial opportunity to a basketball prospect. The cast is tremendous, and it is written by the co-writer of Moonlight. It is also a Netflix film, so if Roma can break through later this month, this will become a real possibility.
4. 1917 (Sam Mendes) – It has been a while since Mendes had a movie in serious Oscar contention, but this is a World War I movie that is being kept under wraps. It is expected to be released in December, so we will have to see how this develops.
5. Little Women (Greta Gerwig) – The story has been told many times throughout history, but Greta Gerwig taking on the material is very interesting, coming off her huge hit Lady Bird. She has the authentic directing eye to make this something special and different.
6. The Last Thing He Wanted (Dee Rees) – Dee Rees nearly broke the Netflix wall with her last film Mudbound, but this movie sounds much more Hollywood and likely to make it. It is about a female journalist who becomes an arms dealer for a government agency.
7. Triple Frontier (JC Chandor) – Chandor is a fascinating director, and this appears to be his most Oscar-type material yet. It is about a Special Forces group who plan a heist on a South American border zone. The screenplay is co-written by Mark Boal, so we know it will be authentic.
8. Native Son (Rashid Johnson) – This anticipated Sundance film is by a first-time director, and it is about a young African American boy who comes of age in the South Side of Chicago in the 1930s. It has an intriguing cast, and there is always a Sundance contender in the running.
9. The Good Liar (Bill Condon) – This feels like the British contender of 2019, starring Ian McKellen as a con artist who falls in love with his target Helen Mirren. It is based on a book, and Condon is capable of making a real hit.
10. The King (David Michod) – Michod hasn’t really capitalized on his acclaim for Animal Kingdom, but King Henry V with a cast of underrated character actors seems like a good bet for his next bit hit.
Others in contention
11. Summerland (Jessica Swale) – This is a debut film for Swale, and it is about a WWII woman who takes in an evacuee. The cast is tremendous, but the movie will need to seriously make a run for this choice to not be irrelevant by midyear.
12. Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley) – On paper, the movie feels like a disaster with the turmoil going on at Pixar and the writers being fired, but the last one was a Best Picture nominee and probably a lot closer to winning than anyone wants to admit. I will never underestimate the power of the best movie studio in the world.
13. Earthquake Bird (Wash Westmoreland) – Westmoreland’s last film Colette was unfairly ignored by the awards, but he has directed an Oscar winner in the past. This movie is about an ex-pat in Tokyo who is suspected of murder. It stars Alicia Vikander and Riley Keough.
14. Cats (Tom Hooper) – Once again, the big musical of the year belongs to Tom Hooper. Can this translate to the big screen? I wouldn’t doubt it; he has defied expectations with basically every movie he has made.
15. The Pope (Fernando Meirelles) – Meirelles hasn’t been in the public eye in some time, so making a movie about the relationship between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict feels like an intriguing next step. The pedigree is there, but the production status is somewhat unknown at this point.
16. The Kindness of Strangers (Lone Scherfig) – Scherfig hasn’t had a real hit outside of An Education a decade ago, but this movie about four people in crisis seems like a return to form for the talented filmmaker.
17. The Best of Enemies (Robin Bissell) – Bissell is a first time filmmaker, but the cast is amazing. The story is about Ann Atwater and her Civil Rights struggles against KKK member CP Ellis over school integration. It is timely, but these types of biopics come off flat sometimes. Look no further than On the Basis of Sex from 2018.
18. Untitled Baumbach Project (Nowah Baumbach) – I try not to include movies without a title, but Baumbach doesn’t need much to get his movies released, and cast is so interesting that it has to be mentioned.
19. The Kitchen (Andrea Berloff) – The directorial debut of the Oscar-nominated writer of Straight Outta Compton is about NY gangster wives who carry out their husbands’ business when they get locked up, which sounds really similar to Widows…and I don’t really see that as a detriment in this case. That movie could have been so much better.
20. Lucy In the Sky (Noah Hawley) – The creator of Fargo has a sci-fi film with an astonishing cast about a female astronaut who returns to earth and has trouble getting reacclimated with reality. Sci-fi movies and space movies in general have been popular in recent years, but how much do we need another one?
21. Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher) – The biopic of Elton John has a great trailer, and it could easily wind up being this year’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which Fletcher had a part in finishing. It has an early summer release, which could definitely hurt its chances.
22. Wendy (Benh Zeitlin) – The first film since Zeitlin was shockingly nominated all over the 2012 Oscars is a fantasy film about an island where aging and time are unclear. It is starring children, which is usually a tough sell for the Academy, but it worked in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
The Predicted Five
1. Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Tarantino has never won Best Director, and unless this somehow falls flat, he should be a shoo-in for a nomination. His directions are always flashy enough and interesting, so if the movie is in for Best Picture, it can be one of the rare movies to take this award home as well.
2. Steven Soderbergh – High Flying Bird – Soderbergh is always in contention, despite how many times he threatens retirement. The movie sounds like a hit, and it is an intriguing topic for the Oscar-winning director. He will bring something special to the material.
3. Greta Gerwig – Little Women – She wasn’t able to secure the win a couple years ago, but she could be the next great female director in the industry. Little Women is a great and complex story, but she will need to really change it up to get nominated in this category.
4. John Crowley – The Goldfinch – He was left off the list 4 years ago, but now that he is more engrained in the industry, he should have a lot better chance. This also seems much more accessible than Brooklyn, which he was nearly nominated for anyway.
5. JC Chandor – Triple Frontier – On paper, it appears to be an action movie, but with Chandor and Boal involved, we know it will be much more. The trailer looks amazing, and the cast is to die for. Chandor has had a few movies that really showed he can do anything behind the camera.
Others in contention
6. Sam Mendes – 1917 – He has won this award before, but it has been 20 years. He has an interest visual style to his films, and his last war film Jarhead was a fascinating watch despite relatively flopping.
7. Dee Rees – The Last Thing He Wanted – She is a talented director, and with this type of cast and material, she could easily become a real contender in this category. She won’t have the Netflix tag holding her back this time.
8. David Michod – The King – He has proves several times that he can really direct, even in the movies that relatively flopped. He has an incredible cast, so if he can mix the mood that he has mastered and make it grounded and interesting, then this could be a royalty classic.
9. Tim Burton – Dumbo – These types of love action Disney remakes are an interesting trend, and while Tim Burton has never been an Oscar favorite, this seems like a dream pairing of story and vision.
10. Jessica Swale – Summerland – I have faith in this project, but the word on it is very quiet. The debut director could be a fresh new face in the race, but we will have to see how it develops.
11. Benh Zeitlin – Wendy – He was nominated over the Best Picture helmer Ben Affleck in 2012. This proves that the voters love his style and the risks that he takes visually and philosophically.
12. Wash Westmoreland – Earthquake Bird – Can he recreate the magic that he did in his acting showcase Still Alice? We will see. His cast in amazing, and the potential is definitely there.
13. Fernando Meirelles – The Pope – He is a past nominee, and this type of material is certainly a step out for the director. The cast is interesting, but the movie will need to be something truly different for him to be singled out here.
14. Rashid Johnson – Native Son – He is a newcomer, so the movie will need to be unanimous in its acclaim for him to be singled out. I think it has a real chance, but we will find out by the end of the month how it is received.
15. Robin Bissell – The Best of Enemies – I have no idea what to expect from the first time director, but the story and cast are enough to put it in contention in all relevant categories.
16. Lone Scherfig – The Kindness of Strangers – She was left off for An Education, and while this movie has an earlier release, it could help its chances in after market views and momentum building. Her cast is certainly intruiging.
17. Tom Hooper – Cats – He is not the most beloved director, but if the movie becomes the hit that it can be, then it will be hard to not recognize his impact on the production.
18. James Mangold – Ford v. Ferrari – Mangold has been a hot commodity lately with his Logan Oscar nomination and rumors to be taking over multiple franchises. This movie appears to be more of an action movie than it should be, but the cast and pedigree make it seem way more interesting than that.
19. Noah Baumbach – Untitled Baumbach Project – He has never been singled out as a director, but if the divorce drama is as popular as it can be, then he could easily get swept in with the momentum.
20. Noah Hawley – Lucy in the Sky – Science-fiction is an easy place for a director to show directing talent and vision. If the movie is as popular as it should be, then Hawley could become an easy nominee.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Antonio Banderas – Pain & Glory – Banderas is always considered for awards, but he always falls short. Here, he is reunited with Pedro Almodovar in a film about a director who reflects on his life and choices he’s made. It sounds much more somber and less bizarre than Almodovar’s recent films, and Banderas always gives his best work in those films.
2. Taron Egerton – Rocketman – Predicting him this high is risky considering the release date, but if he has that type of impact and impression on the audience as Elton John that Rami Malek did as Freddie Mercury, that could easily last the entire year.
3. Ian McKellen – The Good Liar – It has been almost two decades since he was last invited to the ceremony, and playing a con artist feels like a perfect late era role for the beloved character actor.
4. Timothee Chalamet – The King – Is he going to be in contention every year? I wouldn’t doubt it, he’s amazing. He is playing King Henry V with Ben Mendelsohn as his father. He should absolutely dominate the film.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – He is the star of one of the biggest movies of the year (certainly the most hyped). He can get nominated for anything, and he has also not appeared in a film in 4 years.
Others in contention
6. Adam Driver – The Report – He plays the lead in the Scott Z. Burns (writer of Contagion and Side Effects) film about the interrogation tactics used on suspected terrorists post-9/11. Driver needs to be nominated soon, and he has plenty of options in the next year.
7. Dev Patel – The Personal History of David Copperfield – The movie is by the filmmakers who brought us In the Loop and The Death of Stalin, and there really hasn’t been a good representation of Copperfield on screen. Patel is now an Oscar nominee, so I wouldn’t doubt if this becomes another big hit.
8. Matt Damon – Ford v. Ferrari – I’m not entirely sure about the details of how the film is told, but Damon seems to be the star of the movie about Ford and Ferrari’s battle to win Le Mans. He is one of our best actors, and even though he has had a bad light on him recently, a big hit movie could always reverse that.
9. Ashton Sanders – Native Son – One of the stars of Moonlight stars in this coming-of-age story in the 1930s. It has been quite a while since a really young actor has been nominated in this category, but I love the potential for this film.
10. Anthony Hopkins – The Pope – It has been over 20 years since he was last nominated, but Pope Benedict seems like a dream late role for the Oscar winner. Playing alongside Jonathan Pryce will likely be riveting to watch.
11. Ansel Elgort – The Goldfinch – He plays the older version of the protagonist in John Crowley’s film, and given the pedigree of the film, he should be in contention if he is indeed the lead.
12. Jake Gyllenhaal – Velvet Buzzsaw – He is still somehow searching for his second nomination, and playing in another Dan Gilroy movie could be the best thing for him. His last two films were Oscar-nominated, and while this is a thriller coming out in February, it is worth keeping an eye on.
13. Edward Norton – Motherless Brooklyn – Norton’s passion project for a decade has been this adaptation about a man with Tourette’s who is trying to solve the murder of his mentor. Norton has played these kinds of roles before, and there is no one better at it.
14. Andre Holland – High Flying Bird – I believe that he is playing the sports agent in Soderbergh’s basketball film. He nearly snuck into contention in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Moonlight, so he is one to keep an eye on.
15. John Lithgow – The Tomorrow Man – The movie sounds very small, but it is directed by a David Fincher disciple, and the geriatric romance has been a thing for the last few years. Lithgow hasn’t been nominated in over 35 years.
16. Eddie Redmayne – The Aeronauts – It is directed by Tom Harper, who has worked on Peaky Blinders and Electric Dreams. Redmayne is becoming commonplace in the awards circuits, and this role as scientist James Glaisher is an intriguing step for him.
17. Adam Driver – Untitled Baumbach Project – He has a host of movies in contention, and he could easily get his first nomination later this month. Details on the movie are slim, but he seems like a perfect Baumbach actor.
18. Bobby Cannavale – Once Upon a Time in Staten Island – He has been a popular character actor for years, and this seemingly autobiographical tale from the director of The Purge sounds like a real sleeper hit.
19. Maxwell Simba – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – The movie is written and directed by Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, and it is about a boy in Malawi who built a wind turbine to help his village after reading about it in a book. Simba has never acted, and it could be total fluff, but it is worth mentioning.
20. Clive Owen – Gemini Man – The movie is about an older hitman who faces off a younger clone of himself. It can be completely ridiculous, but it is directed by two-time winner Ang Lee and has a writing team that has included Billy Ray and Andrew Niccol. It could be Looper or better if handled correctly.
21. Tom Hanks – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – The story of Mr. Rogers is getting a little overplayed (Colin Hanks even played him in Drunk History). Tom Hanks is a predictable choice for the role, and while he could steal the show, he could get completely ignored like in Saving Mr. Banks and every other movie he has made since 2000.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Cynthia Erivo – Harriet – They kept trying to make Cynthia Erivo happen in 2018, but her playing Harriet Tubman in a movie by a prominent female African-American filmmaker like Kasi Lemmons seems like something too good to fail.
2. Anne Hathaway – The Last Thing He Wanted – She plays the protagonist in the Dee Rees crime drama about a journalist turned arms dealer. It has been a little while since she has been in serious contention, but I am intrigued by her in this role.
3. Amy Adams – The Woman in the Window – She plays an agoraphobic woman in New York in the new movie directed by Joe Wright. Adams is always going to be around nominations, and while leading is not her category of choice, this sounds like a perfect role for her.
4. Gemma Arterton – Summerland – She is one of those faces who pops up in a lot of popular films, but she is never singled out. This feels like the kind of movie that can break the mold for her and thrust her into the big time.
5. Renee Zellweger – Judy – Zellweger needs a comeback, so playing in a musical about Judy Garland seems like as good of an opportunity as any. It is written by the writer of The Crown.
Others in contention
6. Meryl Streep – The Laundromat – She is Meryl, so she must be mentioned. It is directed by Steven Soderbergh, and it is about a group of journalists uncovering a political scandal. Sounds like Oscar stuff to me.
7. Mackenzie Davis – The Turning – She has been in the running for a nomination in recent years, and this movie is a thriller directed by a director on the Handmaid’s Tale and Daredevil that is a modern take on “The Turn of the Screw”. It is worth keeping an eye on. Davis is a future nominee.
8. Saoirse Ronan – Little Women – I can see her being Gerwig’s muse and go-to actress for every role that Gerwig is too old to play. It is a perfect match, and anytime we see Ronan, we are compelled to consider her an Oscar contender.
9. Virginie Efira – Benedettta – She is the lead in the new Paul Verhoeven movie about a nun with erotic visions, and she stars alongside Charlotte Rampling. Never underestimate Verhoeven.
10. Zazie Beets – Against All Enemies – I am not entirely sure she is the lead in the movie, but it is by Benedict Andrews about a young FBI agent who is investigating Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) in a Civil Rights scandal LA in the 1960s.
11. Alicia Vikander – Earthquake Bird – The Oscar winner should always be in contention when she stars in a movie, and even in the weaker Westmoreland movies, his actors are outstanding.
12. Evan Rachel Wood – Untitled July Project – Miranda July’s movies are always a little too small, but this movie sounds different. It is about a woman’s criminal parents who bring an unknown man to help them on a heist. Wood needs to be nominated at some point. Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I want to see how it develops.
13. Taraji P. Henson – The Best of Enemies – She plays the lead Ann Atwater in the Civil Rights drama. She has only been nominated once, which is surprising due to her incredible resume.
14. Natalie Portman – Lucy in the Sky – She is hit or miss with her Oscar contenders, but she had a reasonably strong 2018. Both of her movies were ignored, but this is the kind of solo show that can really give room for an actress of her caliber to shine.
15. Felicity Jones – The Aeronauts – She is reuniting with fellow The Theory of Everything nominee Eddie Redmayne in this adventure as pilot Amelia Wren, who is fighting for survival exploring in a hot air balloon. Even if it is just the two of them, there will likely be a ton of room for the talented actors to shine.
16. Blyth Danner – The Tomorrow Man – She plays opposite John Lithgow in the movie that will certainly appeal to the older Academy voters. She has yet to secure a nomination, despite several movies and roles that knocked on the door.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Daniel Craig – Knives Out – The plot is kept under wraps, but it is a murder mystery in the classic whodunit style, and it is written and directed by Rian Johnson. I am curious whenever Craig is cast in a movie other than Bond. I could see him being an absolute standout, like was in Logan Lucky.
2. Ed Harris – Resistance – The movie is directed by the underrated Jonathan Jakubowicz, and it is about Jewis Boy Scouts who help the French Resistance save orphans in WWII, and Ed Harris gets the juicy role of General Patton. I can’t wait to see that!
3. Shia LaBeouf – Honey Boy – The movie is an autobiographical film about a child actor and his drunken father. LaBeouf wrote the film, and he plays the role of the father to Lucas Hedges, who plays the LaBeouf role. He has had a lot of strong performances in recent years. If people give up their disdain for how he conducts himself, then this could be a real Oscar contender.
4. Sterling K. Brown – Waves – It is the new film by the popular indie director Trey Edward Shultz, and it is a musical about young couples finding love. Brown is as popular as any actor in the industry right now, and while the role is unknown, I’m sure he will be the wise character in the story. But then again, nothing Shultz does is ordinary.
5. Bruce Willis – Motherless Brooklyn – He has never been nominated, but the way he has described the role makes me feel like this could be his best and most important work. Everyone loves Willis, so a potential nomination for him would not be entirely unwelcome, despite lousy career choices over the years.
Others in contention
6. Ben Mendelsohn – The King – He seems to have one or two films per year that could get him his first nomination, but he always is overlooked. If he really plays up his juicy character of King Henry IV, then I expect him to coast to a nomination.
7. Sam Rockwell – The Best of Enemies – He plays a kingpin in the KKK in the civil rights movie opposite Taraji P. Henson. It will be interesting to see how it develops.
8. Jamie Bell – Rocketman – He has been in a lot of Oscar movies, but he has yet to break through. He plays Bernie Taupin, a partner of Elton John who is his main lyricist. Depending on how that is portrayed and emphasized on screen, he could be the standout of the film.
9. Oscar Isaac – Triple Frontier – He has still never been nominated, and his last time playing in a Chandor movie was a true Oscar snub (A Most Violent Year). The Netflix early year release will be a hurdle, but too much is in the movie’s favor to be ignored.
10. Bill Nighy – The Kindness of Strangers – Everybody loves Bill Nighy, and while he is almost never singled out, this feels like the kind of role in an ensemble drama that can really bring out his terrific talent.
11. Jonathan Pryce – The Pope – He is always one of those actors who is ignored in huge casts, but he will be able to really bring some punches in his chess match with Anthony Hopkins in Fernando Meirelles’s film.
12. Bruce Dern – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – He plays the role vacated by the deceased Burt Reynolds, which would have been something special. Dern has experience with Tarantino, so I assume this will be just as interesting.
13. Jon Hamm – Lucy in the Sky – He will get his Oscar nomination one day. The details about his character in the Noah Hawley film are unclear, but playing with Natalie Portman, Ellen Burstyn, and Zazie Beets should bring out the best in the TV legend.
14. Ray Liotta – Untitled Baumbach Project – Ray Liotta being directed by Noah Baumbach? That alone had me scratching my head in excitement and confusion.
15. Jack Huston – Earthquake Bird – The Oscar lineage in his family is well documented, so that along could boost his chances if the movie really lives up to its hype.
16. Woody Harrelson – Midway – It may be directed by Roland Emmerich, but a movie about the Battle of Midway with Woody Harrelson as a soldier is beyond intriguing. Plus, the movie has a very distinguished cast including Patrick Wilson, Golden Globe-winner Darren Criss, Dennis Quaid, and Aaron Eckhart.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Sanaa Lathan – Native Son – She has been doing great and underrated work for years, and this coming-of-age Sundance movie could be her ticket to the awards circuit. She plays the mother role to Ashton Sanders, so she could easily wins up as the Naomie Harris of 2019.
2. Cate Blanchett – Where’d You Go, Bernadette – Blanchett hasn’t been nominated in 6 years, so she is one we have to keep an eye on. Richard Linklater’s dramedy about a teenage girl trying to track down her mother looks a little quirky, but I trust Rick. It also comes out in March, so the expectations have to be monitored, but Blanchett looks incredible in the trailer.
3. Florence Pugh – Little Women – She is a rising star, and she has one of the crucial roles in the book. There is usually a younger actor in the running, and she could easily be that contender this year.
4. Kate McKinnon – Untitled Boyle Project – The movie is about a struggling musician who realizes that he is the only person in the world who remembers The Beatles. I don’t know who McKinnon plays, but if she is cast in a Danny Boyle movie (and written by Richard Curtis), then I’m there. She is the next great Saturday Night Live movie star.
5. Judi Dench – Cats – She is Dame Judi Dench, and even when she is outshined by huge casts, as she probably will be here, she is still always nominated. Although it has been a decade since her last appearance at the Oscars, this should be her comeback.
Others in contention
6. Margot Robbie – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – She is the next in line of actresses who will be Oscar buzzed for every role she has. Playing Sharon Tate is a dream scenario.
7. Helen Mirren – The Good Liar – She plays alongside Ian McKellen in Bill Condon’s quasi caper romance, which should be fireworks for British and older audiences. She is always in contention when she makes a movie.
8. Marisa Tomei – Frankie – The film is directed by Ira Sachs, and it is about three generations of people dealing with life-changing experiences in the gardens of Sinta, Portugal. Tomei has been absent from the show for over a decade, and Sachs has had a few movies that have really knocked on the nomination door.
9. Rosie Perez – The Last Thing He Wanted – She hasn’t been nominated in over 25 years, and while it is unclear what type of role she has, being in a Dee Rees film playing alongside this tremendous cast implies that she will have something special to offer.
10. Tiffany Haddish – The Kitchen – Her involvement in this crime drama/action movie implies that it will be a lot of comedy as well, and she has risen to become one of the most beloved character actresses in Hollywood seemingly overnight. I wouldn’t doubt if she gets nominated even if the movie doesn’t play well.
11. Keira Knightley – The Aftermath – The trailer looks luscious, which all Knightley movies seem to. The movie is directed by James Kent, and it is about post WWII reconstruction, and she plays the wife of Jason Clarke. It has a March release, but these types of movies are worth tracking.
12. Laura Dern – Untitled Baumbach Project – She is becoming one of the most beloved actresses out there. I could see the movie even underwhelming and her still getting in.
13. Andrea Riseborough – The Kindness of Strangers – She has been in and around Oscar type movies a lot in the past decade, and this movie feels like one that can break through. Scherfig is a talented filmmaker, and she is one of the most distinguished members of a really nice cast.
14. Mariana Loyola – Ema – It is a Spanish language film by the suddenly bankable director Pablo Larrain. It is about a couple whose adoption goes horribly wrong. This is really just a stab; I don’t know anything about the actress.
15. Caitriona Balfe – Ford v. Ferrari – She is a really popular TV actress for her megahit Outlander, and playing alongside Matt Damon and Christian Bale should be a great showcase for the talented newcomer to film.
16. Sarah Paulson – The Goldfinch – She is becoming one of those actresses who pops up in every movie and show, and she is nominated for most of them. She has never gotten an Oscar nomination, however, and to do so this year, she will need to outshine costar Nicole Kidman.
17. Tilda Swinton – The Dead Don’t Die – Jim Jarmusch films are never really popular with the Academy, but this cast is just ridiculous. The plot is unknown, but it is a comedy-horror film with Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Chloe Sevigny, and Danny Glover. The veteran Jarmusch actress Swinton would be the one singled out.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – Quentin Tarantino – QT has won this award twice, and if his movie is in for a sweep, he should coast to another win. It is also even more cemented if the movie is a bit too extreme for true Best Picture love.
2. Triple Frontier – JC Chandor, Mark Boal – This writing team fascinates me, and the material seems to be the kind that can translate into Oscar love. The cast is amazing. The Academy is going to be bombarded with a lot of Netflix contenders. They will have to let go at some point.
3. 1917 – Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns – It is the first screenplay that Mendes has been involved in writing, and it is the first feature film script for his co-writer as well. The plot is being kept under wraps, but there aren’t a lot of good WWI movies in history. I am eagerly waiting to see how this develops.
4. High Flying Bird – Tarell Alvin McCraney – His story became the Best Picture winner Moonlight, and this is his first solo screenplay. I expect it to be a passion piece, despite it sounding a lot more mainstream than his previous venture.
5. Wendy - Benh Zeitlin, Eliza Zeitlin – The movie feels like the kind of movie that could possibly be too out-there for a lot of voters, so they just shower it with nominations like Screenplay and artistic awards instead of the major ones. The movie really does sound amazing. I can’t wait for a trailer.
Others in contention
6. Untitled Aronofsky Project – Joe Epstein – The details of the movie are non-existent, other than that it is an artificial intelligence courtroom movie. Anything Aronofsky does needs our attention, and the fact that he isn’t the writer makes it even more alluring.
7. Us – Jordan Peele – The trailer looks absolutely bonkers. Peele is coming off his Oscar win for Get Out, and this horror movie about a family being terrorized by intruders who resemble themselves looks uncomfortable and amazing. The early release date in March should be irrelevant after Peele bucked that trend in 2017.
8. My Zoe – Julie Delpy – The two-time screenwriting nominee has her new directing project about a divorced mother who needs to protect her daughter after a tragedy. The cast includes Delpy, Daniel Bruhl, and Gemma Arterton. It is worth a look.
9. Knives Out – Rian Johnson – He was snubbed previously for Looper, but the murder mystery format is much more conducive to Academy tastes than sci-fi/time travel. The cast is terrific, and he is one of the best writers in the business.
10. Summerland – Jessica Swale – Since she is a newcomer, it is hard to project how great her screenplay will be, but she got a fairly distinguished cast, so this could be her best chance to break through.
11. Waves – Trey Edward Shults – His last two films were ridiculously profitable in It Comes at Night and Krisha. This movie has Lucas Hedges (so you know it will be a contender) and Sterling K. Brown. It is one movie that will certainly be worth tracking throughout 2019.
12. Untitled Boyle Project – Richard Curtis – Curtis has not been nominated since 1994, but this movie, this cast, and this director imply that it is more significant than Love Actually and Pirate Radio.
13. Pain & Glory – Pedro Almodovar – This film seems much more reflective and sad than the usual soap opera Almodovar films. Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz will surely ignite the film that sounds almost autobiographic.
14. Frankie – Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias – The writing team has had a couple decent hits in a row, and this cast is just to die for. Sachs does have a style that is not exactly mainstream, but a good ensemble drama is hard for the Oscars to ignore.
15. The Kindness of Strangers – Lone Scherfig – The actual storyline is somewhat unclear at this point, but she is a talented writer, and as long as it isn’t some cliché interlocking story drama, then this has a real chance at making waves in this category.
16. Gemini Man - Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Billy Ray – The story is intriguing, but these types of action movies really need wide appeal, box office, and unanimous critical acclaim to get in. The pedigree is there. Ang Lee doesn’t just make trash.
17. The King – David Michod, Joel Edgerton – This writing duo has shown some real talent, but unless it really is one of the huge contenders for Best Picture, then it feels like a tough sell for Original Screenplay.
18. Untitled Baumbach Project – Noah Baumbach – Even though he has only been nominated once, his movies seem to play so well to actors that I have to mention him whenever he makes a new character drama.
19. Rocketman – Lee Hall – He also has the Cats film in 2019 that he wrote, which is a nice boost to his potential to eventually be singled out. The movie’s early release date is the only real hurdle.
20. Harriet - Gregory Allen Howard, Kasi Lemmons – Howard’s previous credits include Ali and Remember the Titans, which could give some pause to the screenplay’s potential, but Lemmons and the talent in front of the camera make it a real contender in all categories.
21. The Report – Scott Z. Burns – Burns has shown a lot of screenwriting talent in his work with Steven Soderbergh as well as The Bourne Ultimatum, but he is also directing this picture. It sounds like material that can be heralded, but it needs to be tightly written and edited.
22. The Pope – Andrew McCarten – He has been on a roll lately with Darkest Hour and Bohemian Rhapsody in consecutive years. He can make this story something truly entertaining, even if it becomes historically inaccurate.
23. Lucy in the Sky – Noah Hawley – He has proven his writing prowess with the monster TV awards darling Fargo, so this star-studded space film should be fascinating. It could also flop. However, it will be fascinating to see how it develops over the coming months.
24. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood - Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster – It is a group of writers who have been involved in the hit TV show Transparent, and Marielle Heller at the helm is intriguing. Hopefully it is more than just fluff, but I will keep the expectations tempered.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. The Goldfinch – Peter Straughn – He is a previous nominee for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and his words will be put on screen beautifully by John Crowley. The cast is brilliant, and this is the type of material that lends well to Adapted Screenplay awards.
2. The Good Liar – Jeffrey Hatcher – He is veteran writer, and his credits include Mr. Holmes, The Duchess, and work on The Mentalist. This movie just feels like a screenwriting nomination.
3. Little Women – Greta Gerwig – Gerwig is a brilliant screenwriter, and the book lends well to film adaptations. The movie will probably be literary and intelligent, but I also expect it to break new ground. We will see how she handles actual expectations with this film.
4. The Kitchen – Andrea Berloff – She has been nominated already, and the movie is an interesting story and very inclusive. It has a good release date, but something about it seems a little too popcorn to be taken completely seriously as a juggernaut. A screenplay nomination seems pretty likely, though.
5. Earthquake Bird – Wash Westmoreland – His screenplays have not really been singled out, but this movie feels like serious Oscar bait if handled correctly. This category is a good one for these types of stories.
Others in contention
6. The Last Thing He Wanted – Dee Ress, Marco Villalobos – This is a tough category, but if the movie is as big of a hit as it can be, then the screenplay will likely get in the mix. Ben Affleck, Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe…it sounds like an Oscar hit to me.
7. Toy Story 4 – Stephany Folson, Will McCormick – The writing is the easiest place to nominate animated films, but the uncertainty with the post production and writing fluctuation leaves it just outside the predicted list.
8. Native Son – Suzan-Lori Parks – She is an unknown writer, only having a couple credits to her name, but her movie is one of the contenders based on a popular book. I wouldn’t count her out, but this is a really stacked category.
9. Ford v. Ferrari - Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, Jason Keller, James Mangold – It is an intriguing writing combination for this historical drama. The Butterworths have done Edge of Tomorrow, but they also did Fair Game. Mangold hasn’t done a real Oscary movie in ages. I am a little skeptical of its overall chances, but I like the potential.
10. The Best of Enemies – Robin Bissell – I am a little hesitant to really anoint the film with its April release date, but it really feels like this year’s Hidden Figures. Maybe a hot trailer release will delay it until the fall.
11. The Woman in the Window – Tracy Letts – Tracy Letts is adapting someone else’s material for a change, which makes me feel like it must be something special. Getting Joe Wright, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, and Gary Oldman involved certainly seems to support that.
12. The Personal History of David Copperfield - Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci – The guys are Oscar nominees already, and even though the material might seem a little off for them, it’s hard to underestimate the guys who made Veep into an awards juggernaut.
13. Jojo Rabbit – Taika Waititi – Waititi is a really popular filmmaker at the moment, and this is a comedy about a young boy in Hitler’s army who finds a Jewish boy being hidden by his mother. Waititi plays Hitler, and Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, and Scarlett Johansson join the cast. It sounds better as an Original Screenplay, but it is worth keeping track of.
14. Where’d You Go, Bernadette - Richard Linklater, Holly Grant, Vincent Palmo Jr. – It is based on a popular book, and this writing team brought us the underrated Me and Orson Welles. Linklater’s films are always in the Academy’s sights, and this is his first real contender since Boyhood.
15. Cats – Lee Hall, Tom Hooper – Hooper’s writing partner this time is the writer of Billy Elliot, so there will be quality screenwriting in this musical for a change. I’m not fully on board with the movie, but the musical genre and Christmas release will boost its chances.
That’s it! What movies are you most looking forward to in 2019? Are there any projects that I overlooked? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned for my final 2019 Oscar predictions.