Dann Gire predicts Oscar's sure bets and potential surprises

  • Will "1917" win Best Picture? Best Director? Best Cinematography? Dann Gire predicts it will win all three.

    Will "1917" win Best Picture? Best Director? Best Cinematography? Dann Gire predicts it will win all three. Courtesy of Universal Pictures

 
 
Updated 2/7/2020 9:55 AM

We already know five things about the 92nd Academy Awards show to be broadcast live at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, on the ABC network:

• The show will pay tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, the NBA superstar who won the 2018 Animated Short Film Oscar for "Dear Basketball."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• The Academy dinner will largely consist of plant-based food.

• There will be no host for the third time in history.

• The awards will be broadcast in 225 countries under the supervision of International Production Manager Adam Cohen, who grew up in Wheeling and Buffalo Grove.

• The awards program will last even longer than Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman."

We also know who some of the winners will be, don't we?

Best picture and best director could deliver the night's most noteworthy plot twists, but you don't have to be a psychic to call a few of the 24 categories. So here's a look at Oscar's sure bets and harder-to-guess battles.

"Parasite" appears to be a lock for Oscar's Best International Feature, Dann Gire says.
"Parasite" appears to be a lock for Oscar's Best International Feature, Dann Gire says. - Courtesy of Neon
Ironclad, can't-lose nominees:

• No one will need subtitles to follow along as Bong Joon Ho's sharply written, tightly edited and superbly performed "Parasite" easily takes the Best International Feature statuette. (This used to be called "Best Foreign Language" until the Academy's grand poobahs finally got with the times and updated the archaic name.)

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• Sam Mendes' World War I epic "1917" will win Best Cinematography or 8,469 Academy members will be up for recall at my insistence. Hollywood ace Roger Deakins photographed this story to look like a single, fluid take and give us an unparalleled immersive dramatic experience. He morphed together segments to create this amazing effect, one reason his film didn't receive an Editing nomination, but a Visual Effects nod that he will win.

• Hollywood misfit Joaquin Phoenix will kill the competition in the Best Actor category for his sociopathic "Joker." With his emaciated, gnarled physique and diabolical, unnerving laugh, Phoenix's runaway performance joins an exclusive club including Robert De Niro in "Raging Bull" and Meryl Streep in "Sophie's Choice" for his stunning transformative role. (Besides, how could an Adam Driver acceptance speech possibly be more amusing than one from the off-kilter Phoenix?)

Renée Zellweger might as well have her acceptance speech ready as the Best Actress Oscar favorite for "Judy."
Renée Zellweger might as well have her acceptance speech ready as the Best Actress Oscar favorite for "Judy." - Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

• In "Judy," the chameleonic Renée Zellweger bears only a vague resemblance to Judy Garland in the twilight of her career (aided by a small nose prosthetic and dental devices that reshaped her teeth and jawline to suggest Garland's). Zellweger nails the iconic performer's persona and sings her songs -- after several weeks of learning to do so while wearing those dental retainers. She'll win Best Actress.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• Brad Pitt will win Supporting Actor in "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood." His part is practically a leading role.

• Laura Dern will win Supporting Actress in "Marriage Story." About time.

• Pixar's "Toy Story 4" will win Animated Feature 4 real.

Joaquin Phoenix's transformation for "Joker" should land him a Best Actor Oscar Sunday.
Joaquin Phoenix's transformation for "Joker" should land him a Best Actor Oscar Sunday. - Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
The plastic-clad, might-lose nominees:

• Best Picture will be a cage-match between "1917" (winner of the Producers Guild Award, a strong indicator) and Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood."

A bold, visionary war drama or a cleverly written black comedy about the Manson family murders?

With rare exceptions, Oscar voters trend toward perceived "prestige" pictures for the premium prize. "1917" will win, even though Best Picture recipients usually win the coveted Film Editing Oscar ­-- and "1917" didn't even get that nomination.

• Sam Mendes will win Best Director for "1917."

• Best Makeup will go to Kazuhiro Tsuji (he turned Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill in "Darkest Hour") for the intricate transformation of the "Bombshell" cast into Fox News characters, especially Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly, given a nose plug, jaw and chin pieces, even cosmetic eyelids to create a piece of movie magic.

Other best guesses:

• "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," Original Screenplay (although "Parasite" deserves it)

• "Jojo Rabbit," Adapted Screenplay (although "Little Women" deserves it)

• "Little Women," Best Costume Design

• "1917," Visual Effects (although Marvel's "Avengers Endgame" could steal it)

• "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again," Original Song in "Rocketman"

• "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood," Production Design (although "Parasite" deserves it)

• "Joker," Original Score

• "1917," Sound Mixing and Sound Editing

• "Ford v Ferrari," Film Editing (although beloved editor Thelma Schoonmaker's "The Irishman" could take it)

• "American Factory," Documentary Feature

• "Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)," Documentary Short Film

• "Hair Love," Animated Short Film

• "Brotherhood," Live Action Short Film

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