With the 92nd annual Academy Awards less than 24 hours away, the anticipation about who will take home a gold statuette is high.
Many feel 1917 winning the Best Film is a foregone conclusion, as is Joaquin Phoenix's taking home Best Actor for Joker and Renee Zellweger is scooping up the Best Actress trophy for Judy. Most pundits are also confident Sam Mendes will win Best Director for 1917, Brad Pitt will walk away with Best Supporting Actor for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Laura Dern will be Best Supporting Actress for Marriage Story. The Korean film Parasite, it is being widely touted, will win Best Foreign Film on the starry night.
Have the Oscars indeed become that predictable, so much so that winners can be 'declared' weeks before the event? Most industry watchers would attribute the trait to the series of big-ticket awards ceremonies that have started enjoying the global spotlight over the past decade, in an age of information overload. Academy Awards ceremonies in recent years have tended to repeat the results we have seen at such events, particularly the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs. Most punters have hedged their bets about this year's winners based on the results at these awards.
When it comes to Hollywood, however, there can always be scope for surprises.
Filmmaker Todd Phillips' Joker, an original story about superhero Batman's biggest enemy Joker, leads the Oscar nominations with 11 nods, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.
Sam Mendes' World War drama 1917, Quentin Tarantino's ode to Los Angeles Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and Martin Scorsese's mob epic The Irishman follow close behind with 10 nods each. Those films, along with Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story and Parasite will compete for Best Picture.
Female filmmakers were entirely shut out of the Best Director race. Along with Phillips, the nominees in the category include Scorsese for The Irishman, Mendes for 1917, Tarantino for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Bong Joon Ho for Parasite.
According to forbes.com, 1917, which collected the Golden Globe for Best Drama and the BAFTA for Best Film, is the favourite for a big win, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Inspired by the stories that Oscar-winning director Mendes' grandfather told him, 1917 is about two young Lance Corporals, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) during the First World War, who are given an almost impossible mission. Racing against time, they must deliver a message deep inside enemy territory. The message is important to stop their own men -- including Blake's brother -- from walking into a death trap.
Bong Joon-ho's Parasite, which tells the story about greed and class discrimination which threatens the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan, is expected to sneak in and win big.
In the acting race, Joaquin Phoenix's transformation into a mentally unstable loner and failed comedian Arthur Fleck in "Joker" is expected to get him an Oscar. He has won a Golden Globe and BAFTA this year for the movie. Renee Zellweger is also said to be a big winner of the night for her film Judy.
Meanwhile, Laura Dern of Marriage Story and Brad Pitt of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood are set to clinch the supporting titles.
It is believed that filmmaker Taika Waititi will pick up the honour in the Adapated Screenplay category for JoJo Rabbit, about a lonely German boy named Jojo and how his world view changes when he finds out that his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic.
Toy Story 4 is expected to pick up an Oscar in the Animated Feature category. Hildur Guonadottir might pick up in Original Score, while song "I'm gonna love me again" from Rocketman might also win.
Time will tell if the Oscars will follow the Globes and the BAFTAs this year, too, or spring a few new winners.
The awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on February 9, and will air in India on February 10.
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