What Movie Won the Best Picture Award at the 2020 Oscars?
After a shortened awards season -- that also somehow felt very long -- we can finally exhale knowing that a true masterpiece ended up winning Best Picture. Though for a while it seemed like 1917 might take the top prize, the 92nd Oscars were all about Bong Joon Ho's Parasite, which became the first film not in the English language to win Best Picture in Oscars history. Over the past months, we've been tracking the Best Picture race. Now that it's over, read on to revisit how it all went down.
The nominees for Best PictureNot to brag, but my predictions for which films would be nominated for Best Picture were dead on. (It was actually pretty easy to suss out who would make it in. I'm not giving myself that much credit.) The 2020 nominees for Best Picture are...
Ford v Ferrari
Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood
So, who will win? With the race shifting, I'm predicting 1917, with the caveat that Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood was, once upon a time, my initial frontrunner, and that Parasite could very well beat both of them if the world is just. (OUATIH at this point seems unlikely.)
UPDATE: And the world is just. Parasite won.
Release date: July 26
Cast: Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie
Director: Quentin Tarantino
What's it about? Quentin Tarantino rewrites the history of 1969 in Los Angeles, focusing on an over-the-hill actor and his stunt double buddy.
Why it could be in contention: Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood has a rare honor this year: It's both critically acclaimed and a box office success. It's also been highly debated, as one would expect from a Tarantino film. Tarantino's last, The Hateful Eight, didn't have much luck in the Oscars race, but Hollywood loves a story about itself and it will probably be powerless to resist this film from one of its favorite auteurs.
What's the backlash? When the film came out in July, arguments broke out over how it handles the legacies of Sharon Tate and Bruce Lee, as well as its bloody ending in which (largely female) members of the Manson family meet gruesome deaths.
What has it won so far? The Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy; Best Screenplay; and Best Supporting Actor. Tarantino won Best Director and Pitt won Supporting Actor from the National Board of Review. The screenplay was honored by the NYFCC and production design by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It collected a bunch of Golden Globes nominations, but it's worth noting it is in the Musical or Comedy category. The SAG nominations also offered more momentum for Pitt, who won, and DiCaprio got in as well as the ensemble, while the movie got recognition from the Producers Guild.
Could it actually win? Sure, but that's less likely than it once was. Pitt, nominated for Best Supporting Actor, is its best shot.
What else was it nominated for? Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, Marc Maron
Director: Todd Phillips
What's it about? Man dresses as a clown, starts killing people.
Why it could be in contention: The Batman villain's origin story, directed by the guy who made The Hangover movies, made an unlikely run for an Oscar with multiple stops on the fall festival circuit, emerging as one of the most controversial films of the year. But it paid off: Winning the Golden Lion at Venice only increased its chances of becoming Oscar bait, and the Academy loves when a film is actually a giant box office hit -- which Joker certainly is.
What's the backlash? The critical divide on Joker was swift. Is it a masterpiece? Derivative? Dangerous? (To that last one: Probably not. Though it might still be irresponsible.)
What has it won so far? Venice's Golden Lion, of course. Also, the Golden Frog from Camerimage for cinematography. The Globes nominations also celebrated the Clown Prince of Crime, nominating Phillips, Phoenix, and the film itself. Phoenix won, as did the score. Phoenix was nominated for a SAG award and the movie was nominated for a PGA.
Could it actually win? Maybe, but it's still not the Academy's usual taste. A dark-as-hell film based on a comic book? That's not going to appeal to a huge swath of voters. Joaquin's looking like a definite for Best Actor, though.
What else was it nominated for? Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Score, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling
Cast: Song Kang Ho, Choi Woo Shik, Park So Dam, Cho Yeo Jeong
Director: Bong Joon Ho
What's it about? A family of con artists infiltrates a rich family's home in modern-day South Korea. And then everything gets really crazy.
Why it could be in contention: The Palme d'Or winner from Cannes is a major triumph for Korean director Bong Joon Ho, whose last two films were the zany-slash-terrifying Snowpiercer and Okja. Now, he tells a story about the class divide in his home country in a blisteringly unpredictable fashion. This is the one movie all year that has been nearly universally praised.
What's the backlash? None.
What has it won so far? Foreign Language Film from the National Board of Review, the NYFCC, and the Globes. Also, obviously, the Palme. Though it wasn't eligible for Best Picture at the Globes, it did end up with four nominations, including one for Best Director. Bong also won director from the LAFC and the film came away with Best Picture from that organization. The National Society of Film Critics also gave it Best Picture. Perhaps the best indication that it could actually get Best Picture is the fact that its cast took home the ensemble prize, essentially the Best Picture equivalent, at the SAG Awards, where its actors also received a standing ovation. The weekend before the Oscars, it nabbed two more wins for its screenplay: one from the Writers Guild and another from the BAFTAs.
Could it actually win? It's still frustratingly hard for foreign language films to crack the Academy's top categories, but Parasite could definitely be a film to do so.
What else was it nominated for? Director, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, International Feature Film, Production Design
Cast: Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Roman Griffin Davis, Sam Rockwell
Director: Taika Waititi
What's it about? The premise of this high concept comedy finds director Waititi -- of Kiwi comedies and Thor: Ragnarok -- playing the imaginary friend version of Hitler that a little Nazi boy dreams up in the waning days of WWII.
Why it could be in contention: Lest you think Jojo is filled with humor that pushes the limits of good taste, let me tell you that it's actually mostly a sweet tale of a kid who learns how hateful the ideology he's aligning himself with really is. Critics at TIFF were divided, but audiences gave it the festival's highest honor: the Grolsch People's Choice Award, which has previously gone to the likes of Green Book, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and La La Land in the past. By that metric, Jojo has a chance to win.
What's the backlash? Backlash is maybe too strong a word, but Jojo is by no means universally loved. People have taken issue with how lightly it treats its subject matter, even while attempting to poke fun at the horrific rhetoric.
What has it won so far? The TIFF audience award, as previously mentioned, and it had a strong presence in the Globes' Musical or Comedy categories. Johansson got a supporting actress nomination from SAG, and the ensemble ended up in that race as well. Producers Guild also included it. Waititi won adapted screenplay from the WGA.
Could it actually win? Some argue that Jojo Rabbit, with its "racist learns not to be racist" plot, has Green Book energy. So, yes, but it's a long shot in the home stretch.
What else was it nominated for? Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Film Editing
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel
Director: Martin Scorsese
What's it about? The slow decline of Frank Sheeran, a hitman associate of Jimmy Hoffa.
Why it could be in contention: During the 2019 Oscars -- as Roma was winning prizes -- Netflix aired a cryptic but powerful ad for its next major awards play. All it needed was a couple of names: Scorsese. De Niro. Pacino. Pesci. Yes, Scorsese's reuniting with some of his old buddies for a mob tale about the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, an adaptation from the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses. (Somewhat shockingly, this is the first time he and Pacino have worked together.) There were some fears going into the first press screening at the New York Film Festival: Would it justify its 209-minute length? Would the de-aging look super weird? The good news for both movie fans and Netflix's awards campaign is that The Irishman is being hailed as one of Scorsese's best, a melancholy spin on the material with award-worthy performances from all three of its leads.
What's the backlash? By the time The Irishman hit Netflix, the complaints started coming in that it's too long, and other debates started brewing. Right now, the loudest one has to do with the lack of dialogue given to Anna Paquin's character, Sheeran's daughter. Whereas some -- including yours truly -- would say that her silence is a devastating choice, others say it marginalizes her.
What has it won so far? Best Film from the National Board of Review along with Best Adapted Screenplay for Steven Zaillian. NYFCC also gave it a lot of love: Best Film and Supporting Actor for Pesci. While De Niro was snubbed at the Globes and the SAGs, his costars are in Supporting Actor in both. It left the Globes empty-handed despite nominations for picture, director, and screenplay, but wound up on the Producers Guild list.
Could it actually win? With Oscars weekend imminent, I have to say probably not. The lack of awards throughout the season is a huge blow to its momentum.
What else was it nominated for? Director, Supporting Actor x 2 (Pesci and Pacino), Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Film Editing
Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern
Director: Noah Baumbach
What's it about? The drawn-out breakup of a couple torn between bi-coastal cities.
Why it could be in contention: Noah Baumbach's latest won raves out of the festivals, and for good reason: In evenly telling the story of a couple breaking up, he both incisively details a system designed to make people fall out of love and creates dual portraits of people forced to re-examine their lives and desires.
What's the backlash? Most of it depends on who you see the movie as "siding with" as some have argued that it doesn't give Johansson's character her due.
What has it won so far? It cleaned up at the Gotham Awards, ending the night with Best Feature, the Audience Award, Best Actor for Driver, and Best Screenplay. Dern has been taking in the most, winning supporting actress from a variety of bodies, including at the Globes. Driver and Johansson also got Globes nominations. Baumbach was left out of Best Director at the Globes, however, the film was nominated for Best Picture, Screenplay, and Score. There was another surprising admission in the SAG nominations: Dern, Driver, and Johansson were all nominated, but the ensemble was not. The movie got a PGA nod.
Could it actually win? Not at this point. Dern is a near certainty, but that might be its only trophy.
What else was it nominated for? Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Original Score
Cast: Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe
Director: James Mangold
What's it about? The two men building a Ford car fast enough to beat Ferrari at Le Mans '66 and all the hell the corporation puts them through.
Why it could be in contention: If you know anything about cars, the battle between these two car companies is the stuff of legend. If you don't know anything about cars -- raises hand -- you know that putting stars of Matt Damon and Christian Bale's caliber together for an awards season release is enough to turn heads. Mangold, meanwhile, is coming off Logan, which some argued deserved more Academy attention in the 2018 race than it got.
What's the backlash? Maybe it's too much of a dad movie. Other that that? Nada.
What has it won so far? Globe and SAG nods for Bale, and a Producers Guild nom.
Could it actually win? Right now, it's a little off pace.
What else was it nominated for? Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Film Editing
Cast: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay, Andrew Scott, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch
Director: Sam Mendes
What's it about? Two men on a mission to deliver a letter across No Man's Land during WWI.
Why it could be in contention: The Skyfall director's new World War I epic is a bout of seriously flashy filmmaking. He, along with cinematographer Roger Deakins, films the entire thing as if it were one take in a move that's sure to woo some Academy voters.
What's the backlash? Nothing concrete, but the one-take structure has been seen as too gimmicky.
What has it won so far? The National Board of Review's cinematography prize, and a bunch of Golden Globes. If you hadn't been paying attention to this one prior to the Globes, you certainly were after. It claimed Best Director for Mendes and Best Motion Picture, Drama, firmly staking its place as an Oscar frontrunner. More proof that it's in the lead? A win from the Producers Guild, beating out all of its fellow nominees, and another from the BAFTAs.
Could it win? Quite possibly. It's the frontrunner in the days leading up to the ceremony.
What else was it nominated for? Director, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Score, Visual Effects, Makeup and Hairstyling
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep
Director: Greta Gerwig
What's it about? The March sisters growing up in Massachusetts and their hopes and dreams.
Why it could be in contention: Greta Gerwig's post-Lady Bird move is a gorgeous adaptation of an old classic that has already won legions of fans. Her interpretation of Louisa May Alcott's novel alters the timeline and changes long-held perceptions of the characters, featuring marvelous work from her past collaborators Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet as well as a breakout performance from Midsommar's Florence Pugh.
What's the backlash? Some have argued that the story, which has so frequently been retold, didn't warrant yet another interpretation. Others are seemingly confused by the time-hopping structure even though it's really very clear.
What has it won so far? Dern got her supporting actress prize at the NYFCC and the National Society of Film Critics for her work here and in Marriage Story, while Ronan was nominated at the Globes. The NSFC awarded Gerwig Best Director, and the Producers Guild nominated it for its prize.
Could it actually win? It's far-fetched.
What else was it nominated for? Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design, Original Score
The SnubsThese are the movies we thought had a chance.
Release date: March 22
Cast: Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss
Director: Jordan Peele
What's it about? A family encounters their murderous dopplegangers.
Why it could be in contention: It would have been thrilling to welcome 2018 winner Jordan Peele back to the Dolby stage for his Get Out follow-up. Us is just as brilliant, but in a different package, and the slasher framework in which it presents its themes might be a bit harder for Academy members to swallow. One thing everyone can agree on: Lupita Nyong'o's brilliant double turn as a mother protecting her family, and the eerie, "tethered" version of that woman was absolutely robbed.
What's the backlash? None, really.
What has it won so far? Nyong'o won Best Actress from the New York Film Critics Circle. She also got a SAG nomination.
Did it get any nominations? No.
Release date: July 12
Cast: Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, Diana Lin, Zhao Shuzhen
Director: Lulu Wang
What's it about? Based on director Wang's real life, The Farewell tells the story of a young woman thrust into a cultural quagmire when she learns her family is keeping her grandmother's cancer diagnosis a secret from the ailing woman.
Why it could be in contention: Usually a couple of films that premiere at Sundance in January make it all the way to the Oscars the following year. The Farewell -- a personal film from director Lulu Wang -- seemed like it could make that journey, especially with its breakout dramatic performance from Awkwafina. If we had any say in it, Zhao Shuzhen, as Nai Nai, would have been a lock for Supporting Actress.
What's the backlash? Everyone loves this movie.
What has it won so far? Awkwafina is the movie's biggest winner so far. She got the Golden Globe for actress in a musical or comedy and last year won the Gotham Award for Best Actress, essentially taking home the first trophy of the season. In that speech, she thanked "grandmas everywhere." The film, which is often in Mandarin, was nominated for Foreign Language Film at the Globes but lost to Parasite.
Did it get any nominations? No, even Awkwafina didn't get a slot in Best Actress.
Release date: September 13
Cast: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Cardi B
Director: Lorene Scafaria
What's it about? The friendships between a group of strippers who scam men in the wake of the Great Recession.
Why it could be in contention: Hustlers was one of the most exciting stories of the race, winning almost universal praise after its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and securing a box office win to boot. Based on Jessica Pressler's article for New York Magazine about a group of strippers that scammed Wall Street assholes during the financial crisis, director Scafaria (The Meddler) amassed a cast of all-stars, from Jennifer Lopez to Constance Wu to Cardi B, to tell a story of sisterhood in the face of economic struggle. Lopez initially emerged as the most likely Oscar nominee: She's remarkable as Ramona, the ringleader of the group, masking vulnerability behind her incredible swagger. Alas.
What's the backlash? Unless you consider the few men pissed off that the movie isn't sympathetic enough to them "backlash" -- which I do not -- none.
What has it won so far? Jennifer Lopez rightly won the LAFC for supporting actress and was nominated at the Globes and the SAGs.
Did it get any nominations? No. And Jennifer Lopez's exclusion is shameful.
Dolemite Is My Name
Release date: In theaters October 4; on Netflix October 25
Cast: Eddie Murphy, Tituss Burgess, Wesley Snipes
Director: Craig Brewer
What's it about? The life and work of Blaxploitation star Rudy Ray Moore.
Why it could be in contention: Eddie Murphy was arguably robbed of an Oscar for his work in Dreamgirls, and the interim years have been quiet for the one-time superstar. But he's back in full force playing Moore in this biopic that won crowds over at TIFF.
What's the backlash? There is none.
What has it won? It was a nominee in Musical or Comedy at the Globes, and Murphy was in the actor race there.
Did it get any nominations? No. Not even for Murphy.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Release date: October 18
Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys
Director: Marielle Heller
What's it about? A journalist goes to profile Mister Rogers and has his life changed.
Why it could be in contention: Marielle Heller was rudely snubbed for Best Director this past year after directing Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant to nominations for Can You Ever Forgive Me? Her next project, in a coup of casting, finds Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers, spreading his message of kindness to a skeptical journalist (played by The Americans' Matthew Rhys). Beloved icon as beloved icon? Smells like Oscar. But it's important to note that A Beautiful Day is not the sort of showy weeper that Academy voters tend to love; it's a quieter film that's less about Mister Rogers' life than about the idea of Mister Rogers. Hanks' role is the supporting one, adding an interesting wrinkle to the Actor races.
What's the backlash? Nothing really.
What has it won so far? Hanks was nominated for Supporting Actor at the Globes and the SAGs.
Did it get any nominations? Yes. Hanks is nominated for Supporting Actor.
Release date: November 27
Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis
Director: Rian Johnson
What's it about? A murder mystery set at a stony mansion where the members of a rich family are all suspects. Also, a surprisingly effective comment on the 1 percent in the Trump era. Also, Chris Evans in sweaters.
Why it could be in contention: Knives Out is one of the genuine success stories of the year: an original movie that was a big box office hit. It's even getting a sequel.
What's the backlash? Some have found the well-intentioned politics of the movie patronizing. As Monica Castillo wrote in the New York Times: "Through the character of Marta, Knives Out has a tendency to exploit its story’s immigration angle, which left me feeling uneasy as strangers at the screening I attended laughed at real-life issues I'm genuinely frightened of."
What has it won so far? Though it left the Globes empty handed, it was well represented in the musical or comedy categories by the HFPA. It also got a Producers Guild nomination, seen as a predictor for a Best Picture nom.
Did it get any nominations? Yes. Original screenplay.
The Two Popes
Release date: In theaters November 27; on Netflix December 20
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Fernando Meirelles
What's it about? Two popes! What else?
Why it could be in contention: A sleeper hit out of Telluride and TIFF, The Two Popes stars Hopkins and Pryce as the titular men of the cloth, Popes Benedict XVI and Francis, respectively. Its best shot seems to be in the acting races, given that plot mostly consists of a two-handed conversation about faith and guilt.
What's the backlash? Nothing yet.
What has it won so far? The Globes, as expected, fell in love with these popes. Both actors got nods, and the film was up for Best Picture.
Did it get any nominations? Yes. A bunch. Pryce and Hopkins are both nominated, and Anthony McCarten was nominated for Adapted Screenplay.
Release date: December 13
Cast: Adam Sandler, Idina Menzel, Lakeith Stanfield, Pom Klementieff
Director: Josh and Benny Safdie
What's it about? The misadventures of a Diamond District dealer addicted to sports gambling played by Adam Sandler.
Why it could be in contention: Adam Sandler, Serious Actor, has long been a tempting proposition when it comes to awards, but he's never managed to get an Oscar nomination despite worthy work in Punch-Drunk Love and The Meyerowitz Stories. The latest from the Safdie brothers, who directed Robert Pattinson in 2017's dirtbag crime thriller Good Time, couldn't break that trend, even with Sandler's giving it his all in this fable of a Diamond District dealer, a seemingly magical stone, and Kevin Garnett.
What's the backlash? This movie certainly wasn't for everyone.
What has it won so far? Sandler was named Best Actor by the National Board of Review, while the Safdies and their collaborator Ronald Bronstein picked up Original Screenplay. The NYFCC gave the Safdies their director prize.
Did it get any nominations? No.
Release date: December 13
Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow
Director: Jay Roach
What's it about? The women at Fox News who helped take down Roger Ailes.
Why it could be in contention: Jay Roach's latest is a ridiculously starry retelling of the ouster of Roger Ailes at Fox, featuring Charlize Theron's dead ringer turn as TV host Megyn Kelly.
What's the backlash? Bombshell raised a lot of questions: Was it too glib about Fox News as an institution? Was it saying anything new about sexual harassment in the workplace? Did it paint Megyn Kelly as too heroic, given her history of racist comments?
What has it won so far? Robbie and Theron both got Globes nominations. The aforementioned actresses got individual SAG nominations along with Nicole Kidman, who plays Gretchen Carlson. The film was also nominated for ensemble.
Did it get any nominations? Yes. Theron and Robbie were nominated for acting, and its makeup and hairstyling was also recognized. I mean, have you seen the prosthetics they put on Theron?