Oscars 2020 Predictions: TCM's Dave Karger Shares His Picks

Mandi Bierly
Preview

Joker, the comic book villain’s dark origin story, leads this year’s Oscar nominations with 11. Will it be the night’s big winner come February 9, when ABC airs the 92nd Annual Academy Awards?

Not if these predictions from Dave Karger, cohost of TCM’s annual 31 Days of Oscars and of IMDb’s live show from the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s famous Oscars viewing party, are correct...

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Best Picture

Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood (Andrew Cooper)

Karger considers Joker and 1917, the war film made to look as if it were shot in one continuous take, contenders for the top prize. But he believes Quentin Tarantino’s stylish, star-powered ode to the movie industry in 1969, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, will win both Best Picture and Best Director.

“I would expect to see Tarantino’s head explode if and when that happens,” he says. In recent years, those awards have gone to two different films almost half the time, he notes. Meaning: 1917’s Sam Mendes could spoil the party for Tarantino, whose two previous Oscar wins were for screenwriting (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained).

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Lead Actor and Actress

No suspense in these categories, Karger says. Joker’s Joaquin Phoenix is a lock, and Renée Zellweger is “too irresistible” as fragile Judy Garland in the biopic Judy.

Renee Zellwegger Judy

Judy (David Hindley Courtesy of LD Entertainment and Roadside Attractions)

“Although I am blown away by Charlize Theron's performance [as former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly] in Bombshell,” Karger says, “Renée will win her second Oscar, but her first in the best actress category.” (She took home supporting actress for Cold Mountain.)

Supporting Actor and Actress

The men’s statue will go to Brad Pitt, whose performance as a codependent stunt double opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time… produced “several iconic moments,” Karger says. “Particularly him on that rooftop when he takes his shirt off. I mean, those will be unforgettable moments in movie history.”

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The category is noteworthy, he adds, because all five nominees are former Oscar winners, including Tom Hanks, who scored his first nomination in almost 20 years for playing TV’s beloved Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Although this would be Pitt’s first Oscar for acting; his win comes from producing 2014’s Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave.

Meanwhile, Karger calls Laura Dern—a divorce attorney in Marriage Story—“the strongest frontrunner” in any acting category. “She is beloved by everybody in the industry and she is just devastatingly good in Marriage Story,” he says. “There's no one that is even close to being an upset possibility in that supporting actress category.”

Marriage Story Laura Dern Scarlett Johansson

Marriage Story (Netflix)

That means Scarlett Johansson, who’s nominated in both supporting (Jojo Rabbit) and lead actress (Marriage Story), will leave empty-handed. But she’ll be in good company: that’s happened to the likes of Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age and I’m Not There), Sigourney Weaver (Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl) and Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven and The Hours). “This is the 12th time that an actor has received lead and supporting nominations,” Karger says, “and about half the time the person wins one of them and then the other half of the time they lose both.”

Original Song

Karger is personally rooting for Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Rocketman track “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.” Why? Even though John won an Oscar for co-writing The Lion King’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” it wasn’t with Taupin, his professional partner of 50 years.

If, on the other hand, Cynthia Erivo (who’s also nominated for playing Harriet Tubman in Harriet) wins for cowriting the film’s “Stand Up,” she’ll become the youngest person to complete the EGOT of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

And one more thing: “My biggest hope for Oscar night,” Karger says, “is that Idina Menzel performs ‘Into the Unknown’ from Frozen II, and John Travolta will introduce her and gets the chance to pronounce her name correctly. Make it happen!”

The 92nd Annual Academy Awards, Sunday, February 9, 8/7c, ABC