The Oscars is the flagship event in Hollywood’s annual calendar, marking the end of awards season by handing out the industry’s most coveted prizes.
However, it’s preceded by an almost comical number of other ceremonies that function as warm-up acts to the main event – and can be helpful indicators of how Oscars night may unfold.
Along with a number of other factors they can help us assess the chances of the nine Best Picture nominees, and determine which is the main contender…
Which film will win the Best Picture Oscar 2020?
First of all, it’s very rare for a film to win top prize at the Oscars if it isn’t also nominated for Best Director.
This has happened only five times in the ceremony’s 91-year history. So, while not impossible, it is statistically very unlikely.
Based on this year’s directing nominations, the films with the best shot are therefore Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho), 1917 (Sam Mendes), Joker (Todd Phillips), The Irishman (Martin Scorsese) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino).
A second factor in attempting to predict the Best Picture Oscar winner is the film in question’s performance at earlier awards ceremonies. The three events commonly cited as good indications of where the Oscars may go are the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards and the Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards.
The Irishman and Joker are the only two films not to have taken home a Best Picture (or equivalent) award at these high-profile events, meaning that they’re starting to fall behind the rest of the pack.
That whittles the main contenders down to three: 1917, Parasite and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – here’s a closer look at each of their chances.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s latest film took home the prize for Best Picture – Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes in January, placing it firmly on the board for the Oscar.
That said, it’s no secret that the Academy Awards tend to favour more overtly serious fare. Since the year 2000, only three films named Best Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes have gone on to take top prize at the Oscars, as opposed to seven winners of Best Drama.
Fold in the controversy over Once Upon a Time’s treatment of female characters and depiction of Bruce Lee, and you may have just enough to take it out of the race.
While it didn’t take home the main drama prize at the Golden Globes, Parasite nabbed the award for Best Foreign Language Film, a category it is expected to easily take at the Oscars too.
It also claimed a major victory at the SAG Awards, where it took home Outstanding Ensemble Cast, the ceremony’s equivalent to Best Picture.
The acting and producing guilds are particularly influential over the Oscars, as many of their members have voting privileges at the Academy Awards as well.
Since the year 2000, nine films that won Outstanding Ensemble at the SAG Awards have gone on to take Best Picture at the Oscars.
With Parasite, there is the added incentive that it would be the first ever foreign language film to earn top honours at the Oscars, although that didn’t help Roma last year…
Many bookies have 1917 down as the favourite to win big at the Oscars and it isn’t hard to see why.
The film has won Best Drama at the Golden Globes and, more notably, Best Picture at the PGA Awards.
The latter ceremony has the best track record of predicting Oscar gold, with 13 of its winners going on to take the Academy Award since the year 2000.
In addition, the film is also expected to make the directing guild swoon with its technical achievement, having the appearance of being shot entirely in one take – a gimmick which worked wonders for Birdman in 2014.
So at present, the safest guess appears to be 1917 – although, of course, there are no certainties when it comes to the Oscars and an upset is never off the cards…
The Academy Awards take place on Sunday 9th February 2020 in Hollywood.