Oscar predictions: Who will win Academy Awards – and who should

Brian Truitt

After navigating the red carpets, acceptance speeches and plant-based menus of the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and other events, this year's awards season comes to a glamorous close with the 92nd Academy Awards (ABC, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET/5 ET).

It's been a speedier-than-usual road to the Oscars, though a bunch of also-rans (sorry, "The Irishman" and "Little Women") have been left mostly in the dust. So far, there's been little drama in the main acting categories, but the best picture race has been interesting, with "1917" scoring important Golden Globe and guild wins, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" appealing to the Tinseltown contingent, and SAG-honored "Parasite" looking to make history as the first foreign film to earn the Oscars' biggest prize. 

It's almost time for a new crop of winners to be added to the Academy Awards' storied history, and here are our predictions for all the major categories:

All things Oscar:Find all of our Academy Awards coverage in one spot

The list:Who's nominated for an Oscar?

The drama:Which one of these five movies will win best picture?

George MacKay (center) stars as a young British soldier who has to relay an important message in the World War I movie "1917."


“Ford v Ferrari”

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”


“Little Women”

“Marriage Story”


"Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”


Will win: "1917"

Should win: "Jojo Rabbit"

Sam Mendes' World War I thriller is the most impressive technical achievement in this category (and arguably of all last year): Edited as one seriously harrowing take, "1917" puts its main characters – and audience – through nearly two brutal hours of trench claustrophobia and battlefield paranoia, with the clock ticking toward tragedy. It's definitely deserving of Hollywood's highest honor, though so is Taika Waititi's World War II satire "Jojo." The tale of a Nazi youth who learns that love triumphs hate is funny, subversive and winningly original. It's a fable that feels very resonant right now.

Joaquin Phoenix puts his take on the iconic supervillain in "Joker."


Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Jonathan Pryce “The Two Popes”

Will win: Phoenix

Should win: Driver

Phoenix's visceral, unnerving transformation into the cackling comic-book supervillain – Heath Ledger won his posthumous Oscar for playing the same guy – seems destined to give the actor his first Oscar in a career full of thought-provoking performances. It's a long time coming for him, honestly. The talented Driver will be back in this category in the future, for sure, and while his portrayal of a divorcing dad isn't as showy as a clown-faced nihilist, it is a dynamic journey (with some singing!) from the pain and pettiness of separation to warmth and hope for the future.

As Judy Garland, Renee Zellweger sings the iconic song "Over the Rainbow" in "Judy."


Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Will win/should win: Zellweger

Maybe it's the fact that she took a step back from acting for a while and came back strong as iconic force of nature Judy Garland, but Zellweger proved in the biopic "Judy" that she's as vital an artist as ever. There are times in the film, depending on the scene or the angle, when Zellweger becomes Garland to an uncanny degree, belts a knockout rendition of "Over the Rainbow" and most importantly makes us feel how a Hollywood legend has to work her way out of a pit of despair. In a race full of powerful women, Zellweger stands out, and her yellow brick road ends with gold.

Pitt's supporting performance as a steely stuntman in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" seems likely to win him his first acting Oscar.


Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” 

Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”

Al Pacino, “The Irishman”

Joe Pesci, “The Irishman” 

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Will win/should win: Pitt

Even competing against four legends, this is Pitt's Oscar. It's a career honor, for sure, after years of balancing being both an A-list movie star and one of the greatest character actors of his generation (though the former sometimes overshadows the latter). The steely stuntman Cliff Booth he portrays in Quentin Tarantino's 1969-set historical fantasy is an exquisite showcase for everything he does well, playing a dude who's oh-so-cool and kind of a hoot to be around but with a possibly darker side hiding just under his sunny, tanned exterior.

Scarlett Johansson (with Sam Rockwell, left, and Roman Griffin Davis) stars as a loving German mom in the big-hearted "Jojo Rabbit."


Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

Florence Pugh, “Little Women”

Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

Will win: Dern

Should win: Johansson

Unfortunately, we can't pick the real winner of this category because "Hustlers" star Jennifer Lopez got snubbed. Her missing out means an apparently easy path to victory for Dern, who wowed the Netflix crowd as a bulldog-tough divorce attorney, a performance that's a joy to behold. Two nominations for Johansson this year was indicative of a fantastic year onscreen, and her "Jojo" performance was the beating heart of Waititi's comedy: Johansson's loving German mom was an empathetic role model for her young son, and she sold every single bit of understanding and tolerance needed to make "Jojo" sing.


Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite”

Sam Mendes, “1917”

Todd Phillips, “Joker”

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Will win: Mendes

Should win: Bong

The last six winners at the Directors Guild of America Awards took this Oscar, and that streak likely continues with Mendes, who crafted a splendid war film that was much more than the usual battlefield status quo. Tarantino also wouldn't be a bad pick, but Bong's multilayered storytelling begs to be honored here. The South Korean director's complex dark comedy will easily win international film, so he's not going home empty-handed, though the directing honor would be a fitting nod to his excellent work on a film that handled class and income inequality so entertainingly.