David Edelstein's Oscar predictions

David Edelstein's Oscar forecast
David Edelstein's Oscar forecast 03:01

The smartest advice I've gotten about betting on the Oscars is: Don't put your money on what you like best. You're just begging to lose.

KEEP SCORE: Download our Academy Awards nominations ballot for your office pool or Oscar party (pdf)

The trick is to project yourself into the head of the average Academy voter, who – wanting you to keep buying tickets – is trying to project him- or herself into your (the average moviegoer's) head. So, it's a nutty feedback loop.

Some people have said, "Why would they nominate junk like 'Joker'?" No one has a clue, especially me! But I do know "Joker" won't win Best Picture, which is fine. I thought it was one unpleasant note hit harder and harder. But Joaquin Phoenix will take Best Actor, because he's the best unhinged movie actor in the world, and he's never had a part with fewer hinges.

Joker - Bathroom Dance Scene [Full HD] | Joaquin Phoenix | Arthur Fleck Dancing by CineMojo on YouTube

Cementing the idea that borderline personalities are "in" is the lock for Renée Zellweger in "Judy." She nails Judy Garland who in the end was torn between sashaying onstage or jumping out the nearest window. 

Judy Movie Clip - On You Go (2019) | Movieclips Coming Soon by Movieclips Coming Soon on YouTube

The best supporting turn was by Joe Pesci in "The Irishman" in a non-Joe Pesci role – conflict-averse. But I'll still be thrilled when Brad Pitt wins for "Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood."

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood | Cliff Drops Off Rick | Movie Clip by 7 CLIPS on YouTube

Laura Dern has won every other award as a calculating divorce lawyer in "Marriage Story." But the twice-nominated Scarlett Johannsen could sneak in as the classiest character in the slapstick Nazi weeper "Jo Jo Rabbit," a hodgepodge that's well-liked in Hollywood.  

JOJO RABBIT | "Someday You’ll Meet Someone Special" Clip | FOX Searchlight by SearchlightPictures on YouTube

Best Director? I predict Bong Joon-Ho for "Parasite," with its surreal metaphor for income inequality – beautiful people on top, underclass below – and underclass under the underclass waiting to pop out and say "Boo!" 

But Best Picture? "1917," the kind of movie Hollywood adores: state-of-the-art, wedded to old-fashioned, lump-in-the-throat anti-war melodrama. New and old … that's what they like. That's what they think you'll like.  

1917 Exclusive Movie Clip - Blazing City (2020) | Movieclips Coming Soon by Movieclips Coming Soon on YouTube

I'll be watching for the edgier stuff – the complaints about lack of diversity, Netflix, the president (don't forget him!), and also to see how presenters address the legacy of Kirk Douglas

You will see a longing for change, side-by-side with a dread of change. Bet on it! 

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Story produced by Robbyn McFadden.