Oscars 2020 predictions: Who will win at the Academy Awards?

(Image credit: Warner Bros, Sony, EOne)

Roll out the red carpet, the Oscars are almost here! 

Leading the Oscar nominations is Joker with 11, the most ever for a comic-book adaptation, beating both The Dark Knight and Black Panther. The supervillain origins story is closely followed by three movies – 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and The Irishman – with 10 nominations each, while Parasite, Marriage Story, and Little Women all picked up six nods. 

The question now is: who will take home gold come February 9? Will Joker be victorious, or could The Irishman step up and win? The GamesRadar+ and Total Film teams have come together to present the following Oscars 2020 predictions, which will be updated regularly as the ceremony approaches. So, without further ado, here's who we think could win at this year's Oscars.

Read more: Golden Globe 2020 winners | BAFTAs 2020 winners

Best Picture

(Image credit: Universal)

Nominees: Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, 1917, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite

Frontrunner: the first good sign for Sam Mendes' 1917 was scooping the Best Motion Picture – Drama award at the Golden Globes. Then the awards just kept coming (most recently the movie scooped up the most awards at the BAFTAs). Perhaps the biggest signpost that 1917 will take gold at the Oscars is its victory at the Producers Guild of America Awards. Green Book won last year – and that movie somehow won. Expect similar this year. 

One of the major contenders is Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a love letter to the easy-going Hollywood of decade's past. Oscars voters love a movie that feels like "classic Hollywood" – and, by that, we mean any movie that celebrates cinema itself. We named it the best movie of 2019, so there are no qualms with Tarantino taking home the Oscars' most prestigious award. 

Underdogs: Having won the Best Foreign Language Motion Picture award at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, Parasite will no doubt do the same at the Oscars. The big question is, has Bong Joon-ho's scathing social commentary on Korea reverberated with voters enough to win the night's biggest award? A bunch of film critics' circles, including London's, have named Bong'smovie best picture, but whether that will translate to the Oscars remains to be seen.

Best actor

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Nominees: Antonio Banderas (Pain & Glory), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Jonathan Price (The Two Popes)

Frontrunner: Nobody, not even Warner Bros., expected Joker to be the colossal hit the movie has become. Yet, here we are, with Joker having broken box-office records for R-rated movies and become the most-nominated movie at the 2020 Oscars. While the origin story may not be the frontrunner for Best Picture, Joaquin Phoenix's central performance – for which he won the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and the Screen Actors Guild Award – will likely earn him an Oscar. 

Phoenix has previously been nominated for Best Actor twice (Walk the Line, The Master) and once for Best Supporting Actor (Gladiator) – chances are, 2020 will be his year to finally come out victorious.

Underdogs: Phoenix basically has this one in the bag, yet there's still a chance for someone else to swoop in. Leonardo DiCaprio may not have been hitting the awards circuit as much as he has done in the past due to already having an Oscar at home for The Revenant, but his turn as a struggling Western actor in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood has definitely been a hit with voters. 

Then there's Antonio Banderas, who gives a career-best in Pain & Glory. Plus, Adam Driver's restrained performance as the divorced father in Marriage Story is incredibly impressive. And then there's Jonathan Price in The Two Popes – a lovely portrayal of Pope Francis, yet in the only movie in this category not nominated for Best Picture. He's definitely the outlier. 

Best actress

(Image credit: LD Entertainment)

Nominees: Renée Zellweger (Judy), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), Charlize Theron (Bombshell), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet)

Frontrunners: Oscar voters love a good transformation, and few actresses have changed as much on-screen this past year as Renée Zellweger. While Judy may not have been the critical darling director Rupert Goold was hoping for, there's no denying Zellweger's central performance – playing a turbulent Judy Garland – is astounding. (Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour is a recent example of a middling movie with a great performance that saw its leading star win gold.)

As with Best Actor frontrunner Phoenix, Zellweger has won the Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Any other winner on the night would be a major upset.

Underdog: Trying to step on Zellweger's red diamond-encrusted heals is Charlize Theron, whose portrayal of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in Bombshell is uncanny to the point of being deceptive. If Theron does win, it would be the second time she's taken home Oscars gold, having won the same award in 2004 for Monster.

Vying for Best Actress is Saoirse Ronan, whose performance in Little Women has received huge acclaim. Despite Little Women being somewhat ignored by the Golden Globes, Ronan's performance has still gotten through to voters, meaning that she's certainly been in Oscar voters' minds for some time. 

Best supporting actor

Brad Pitt in Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood

(Image credit: Sony)

Nominees: Brad Pitt (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), Al Pacino (The Irishman), Joe Pesci (The Irishman)

Frontrunner: Brad Pitt won the Globe. He won the BAFTA. He won Best Supporting Actor at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. He's probably going to take home the Oscar. Oddly enough, Pitt has never won an Oscar for acting despite being nominated for his roles in Moneyball, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 12 Monkeys (he has won Best Picture trophies for producing both The Departed and 12 Years a Slave) and this will probably be his year.

Underdog: The most likely person to steal Pitt's thunder is Joe Pesci, the iconic actor who came out of retirement to appear in Martin Scorsese's The Irishman. His performance is generally seen as having the edge on Pacino's equally brilliant role in the same movie, yet the two going up against each other could divide the votes and give Pitt the victory. 

Best supporting actress

(Image credit: Netflix)

Nominees: Laura Dern (Marriage Story), Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), Margot Robbie (Bombshell), Florence Pugh (Little Women)

Frontrunner: Marriage Story's two central performances – by Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver – are both winning acclaim, yet it's Laura Dern's portrayal of a divorce lawyer that looks set to win at the Oscars. As a two-time Oscar nominee, previously for her roles in Rambling Rose and Wild, this could finally be Dern's hour. She already has the Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Award. So it's looking promising.

Underdog: Her major competition comes from Margot Robbie, who was nominated for two BAFTAs – one for Bombshell, the other for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The Oscars nominated Robbie just for Bombshell, though, but with the added good-will of Once Upon a Time in her sail, this could be Robbie's year.

Then there's also Florence Pugh, who managed to turn the normally neglected character of Amy into a starring role in Little Women. Pugh also appeared in Midsommar earlier in the year, which would have – if the Oscars weren't quite as horror averse as they are – landed her a Best Actress nomination. Alas, her performance in Little Women playing the older and younger Amy would be a well-deserved winner. 

Best director

(Image credit: Cannes)

Nominees: Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Todd Phillips (Joker)

Frontrunner: Sam Mendes won the Golden Globe and BAFTA for Best Director, and could very well do the same at the Oscars for his single-take war movie 1917. Watching the two central soldiers struggle through No Man's Land is breathtaking, and could have been much less impactful in lesser hands. (Worth noting that Roger Deakins will almost certainly be nominated for Best Cinematographer for 1917.)

Mendes also has the Directors Guild of America Award under his belt – having won for a second time, following a victory for American Beauty back in 1999. Any other winner would, at this stage, be a huge surprise. But the competition's pretty tough...

Underdogs: While Mendes may have snatched the Globe, this category's still all to play for. Martin Scorsese's decade-spanning The Irishman took years to bring to cinemas (and Netflix), while Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is the culmination of a career's work. Then there's Parasite's Bong Joon-ho, who could follow on from Alfonso Cuaron (Roma) and take home the award for a foreign language movie. Perhaps goodwill towards Bong – who's having an incredible time on the awards circuit – will send him over the finish line first. Fingers crossed. 

For more on the Oscars, check out:
30 Oscar-worthy movies that never won an Academy Award
The 7 biggest snubs of the Oscars 2020 nominations
The 25 best Oscar-winning movies you should watch before you die

Jack Shepherd
Freelance Journalist

Jack Shepherd is the former Senior Entertainment Editor of GamesRadar. Jack used to work at The Independent as a general culture writer before specializing in TV and film for the likes of GR+, Total Film, SFX, and others. You can now find Jack working as a freelance journalist and editor.