What to expect from the 2020 Oscar nominations

On Monday morning in Los Angeles, actors John Cho and Issa Rae will read this year’s nominees in 24 Oscar categories. How will it all go down?

The New York Times’ Carpetbagger columnist has been weighing industry buzz for months and has a hunch of what the Oscar nominations will deliver. What will make it in, who will be snubbed, and what major controversies may arise? The announcement, at 8:18 a.m. Eastern time, 5:18 Pacific, will be broadcast live on television and livestreamed on Oscar.com and the academy’s social media accounts. Before then, here are big six awards-season questions that will soon be answered.

Which film will get the most Oscar nominations?

After “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” earned recognition from every major industry guild — aside from the Writers Guild of America, which does not count writer-director Quentin Tarantino as a member — this summer hit should easily be our nomination leader on Monday.

Thanks to a strong showing in all the craft categories, expect “Once Upon a Time” to score nominations for picture, director, actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), supporting actor (Brad Pitt), original screenplay, cinematography, editing, costume design, production design and both sound categories. That’s at least 11 nominations, plus another potential two in supporting actress (Margot Robbie) and makeup and hairstyling if Tarantino’s late-’60s fantasia overperforms.

Other films that could earn a double-digit nomination total are Martin Scorsese’s crime drama “The Irishman” and the Sam Mendes war movie “1917.”

Will the acting nominations feature people of colour?

After the British group BAFTA released a list of 20 white acting nominees Tuesday, fears intensified that we may be in for another round of #OscarsSoWhite. The only sure-thing best-picture contender fronted by performers of colour is “Parasite,” which earned a best-ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild Awards but no mentions for any of its individual stars. “The Farewell” also has an all-Asian cast, but Oscar recognition is not assured after the film failed to make the Producers Guild of America lineup on Tuesday, while SAG snubbed its star, Awkwafina, and supporting actress Zhao Shuzhen.

Which actors of colour have the strongest shot at landing a nomination? In the best-actress race, Lupita Nyong’o (“Us”) and Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) could appear, since both picked up SAG nominations. So, too, did supporting contenders Jamie Foxx (“Just Mercy”) and Jennifer Lopez (“Hustlers”). Song Kang Ho, one of the patriarchs in “Parasite,” represents the film’s strongest bid at an acting nomination, but it’s a tough category and he hasn’t shown up here all season.

Speaking of which …

How will ‘Parasite’ fare?

Bong Joon Ho’s thriller proved to be 2019’s foreign-film sensation, and it ought to pick up key nominations for picture, director, original screenplay and editing at the very least. If “Parasite” can muster a really strong showing, nominations are possible for supporting actor (Song Kang Ho), cinematography and even production design, though that branch often prefers films with more settings than the two homes in which “Parasite” mostly takes place. (Still, what homes!)

Can ‘1917’ build on its momentum from the Golden Globes?

As this World War I film heads into wide release just before the Oscar nominations, it could hardly have hoped for a better liftoff from the Globes, which gave “1917” awards for best director and best drama. Momentum is key when it comes to a best-picture race this wide-open, and since this Oscar season is unusually short — the ceremony is in less than a month — “1917” may be peaking at the exact right time.

Then again, it’s been ages since a movie released so late in the year went on to win best picture, and “1917” was one of the very last films to start screening for voters. It also demands a big-screen viewing, and academy members who are under water with DVD screeners may not have gotten around to that yet. If “1917” can pull off around 10 Oscar nominations, including a key nod for its screenplay, we’ll know that the film’s risky release gambit is working.

Is the best-director lineup likely to be all-male?

It was a great year for female directors, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the best-director lineup for the major awards this season. The Golden Globes, BAFTA and Directors Guild of America each picked five men in that category: Tarantino, Scorsese, Bong, Mendes and “Joker” director Todd Phillips were recognized by the first two groups, while the DGA swapped “Jojo Rabbit” director Taika Waititi for Phillips.

That fifth slot will be heavily contested, since the other four directors appear to be immovable. Still, it’s important to note that the directing branch of the academy loves to throw curveballs, so don’t completely count out Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”) or Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”). Other worthy female filmmakers like Celine Sciamma (“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”) and Lorene Scafaria (“Hustlers”) have movies that are likely too far out of the best-picture race to help their long-shot bids.

Who will survive the best-actor bloodbath?

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Many of the Oscar races for acting already appear decided — bet against supporting contenders Laura Dern and Brad Pitt at your own peril — but the best actor competition is a whole other story. In this year’s fiercest competition, nearly a dozen high-profile men are vying for a scant five slots. Three of those will almost certainly be occupied by Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker), Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”), so who gets the last two?

“Rocketman” star Taron Egerton has campaigned the hardest, and so far, it’s paid off with a Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical as well as nominations from both SAG and BAFTA. SAG gave its fifth slot to Christian Bale (“Ford v Ferrari”) and BAFTA favoured Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”), but there are still plenty of men who could surprise here, including the lead actors of two strong best-picture contenders (Robert De Niro of “The Irishman” and “1917” star George MacKay), a critics’ favourite (“Pain and Glory” lead Antonio Banderas) and two comedians with acclaimed star turns (Adam Sandler of “Uncut Gems” and Eddie Murphy of “Dolemite Is My Name”).

It’s considered insincere when actors say it was an honour just to be nominated. When the competition is this cutthroat, though, even making it into the category will be a major win.

TORONTO STAR