First 2020 Prediction
Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"
Kasi Lemmons and Gregory Allen Howard "Harriet"
Quentin Tarantino "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Scott Z. Burns "The Report"
Jordan Peele "Us"
Other Contenders - Susanna Fogel, Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, and Katie Silberman "Booksmart", Anthony McCarten "The Pope", Lena Waithe and James Frey "Queen & Slim", Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns "1917", Chinonye Chuckwu "Clemency", Richard Curtis and Jack Barth "Yesterday", Lee Hall "Rocketman", Brian C. Brown, Elliott DiGuiseppi, and Noah Hawley "Lucy in the Sky", Billy Ray, Jonathan Hensleigh, Darren Lemke, Andrew Niccol, Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, David Benioff "Gemini Man", Pedro Almodovar "Pain & Glory", Ari Aster "Midsommar", Terrence Malick "Radegund", Lulu Wang "The Farewell", Noah Baumbach "Untitled Noah Baumbach Project", Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski "Dolemite is My Name", Rian Johnson "Knives Out", Joe Talbot, Jimmie Falls, Rob Richert "The Last Black Man in San Francisco", James Gray and Ethan Gross "Ad Astra", Max and Robert Eggers "The Lighthouse" Julie Delpy "My Zoe", Stephen Merchant "Fighting With My Family", Tracy Oliver and Tina Gordon "Little", David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford "Tolkien", Scotty Landes and Tate Taylor "Ma", Mindy Kaling "Late Night", Bryony Kimmings and Emma Thompson "Last Christmas", Charles Randolph "Untitled Roger Ailes Project"
Commentary - Can Jordan Peele's Us find similar Oscar glory to Get Out? That is going to be a major question heading into this year's Oscar season. I think Get Out had a lot of humor, and was not so horrifying, which helped it cross that genre barrier. Us is a lot more of a pure horror flick. That could hurt it. I still see it playing well though in at least a few categories, particularly with the writers who have always been more open to different genres than their fellow branches of the Academy. As of now, I am betting Peele makes the cut. The first trailer and posters for Quentin Tarantino's latest have had folks a bit confused. But, I am going to assume that it will be in the conversation, particularly in this category which he has won twice. Marielle Heller is on a role, and her latest film, the Mr. Rogers biopic could be a major Oscar contender. She didn't pen the script herself, but that didn't stop Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and it probably won't stop A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood as well. Harriet, the Harriet Tubman biopic with Kasi Lemmons at the helm and Cynthia Erivo in the lead is getting tons of buzz, as it feels made for Oscar contention. Plus, Lemmons has been building a solid directorial career and is ready for the perfect breakthrough. Scott Z. Burns' The Report landed well at Sundance, and has been called an early Oscar front runner for its timely political premise. He has never managed an Oscar nomination, but could finally snag one. Beyond those five there is a lot of potential. Booksmart was the hit of SXSW, and this category has found room for comedies in the past. Anthony McCarten brings his biopic creds to The Pope, Emmy Winner Lena Waithe brings her talents to the big screen in Queen & Slim, Sundance hits Clemency, The Farewell, and The Last Black Man in San Francisco hope to crash the party, and Sam Mendes returns to the Oscar game with 1917. Fargo creator Noah Hawley goes for Oscar gold with Lucy in the Sky, Ang Lee's latest could be in play, Richard Curtis brings English charm to Yesterday, Ari Aster returns with another horror indie, and after Bohemian Rhapsody's success, do not discount Rocketman. Some big Oscar veterans like Noah Baumbach, Terrence Malick, Pedro Almodovar and Julie Delpy hope to rejoin the group, and genre pieces like Knives Out, Little, M, Late Night, and Last Christmas hope to break the usual Oscar barriers.