Margot’s Oscars chances revealed
For well over a decade now, the Academy Awards have remained in a perpetual scramble to both stay relevant and arrest falling TV ratings.
In 2020, the big move made by Oscars organisers has been to stage the ceremony a fortnight earlier than usual.
While this does stop the event from becoming an awards-season afterthought, there is one factor the new date cannot change: the sheer predictability of the Oscars in many categories.
This year, all of the acting races appear to be have been already run, as the same names (we're talking to you Renée Zellweger and Brad Pitt) have dominated the lead-up awards shows for months.
Asking viewers to sit through three hours-plus of pre-flagged results seems a bit much, unless the 2020 Oscars can spring some surprises or conjure some magic moments elsewhere in the telecast.
The pickings are equally slim for patriotic Australian Oscar aficionados, with Margot Robbie left to fly the flag solo as our only headlining nominee of the evening.
If the pundits are right, the former Neighbours star may struggle to beat a hot Best Supporting Actress field for her solid work in Bombshell, in which she starred opposite fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron.
But save your tears: by the time Robbie glides across the red carpet tomorrow morning, the 29-year-old will be doing so as the star and producer of the number one film at the box-office all over the world, Birds of Prey.
That, right there, is a result worth ten Oscars.
THE HOST THIS YEAR?
No-one. Or to be more accurate, no one person.
Last year's experiment with a passing parade of presenters - as opposed to a solo host doing scripted bits - proved to be a surprise success for the Academy. Broadcast figures were up by more than 10% from the all-time low of 2018.
So even producers won't be fixing what clearly ain't broken. Among those who will be asking for "the envelope, please" are Rami Malek, Gal Gadot, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Timothee Chalamet and Charlize Theron.
THE CLOSEST CONTEST?
For the first time in living memory, it will be the prestigious Best Picture category that goes right down to the wire.
Earlier this awards season, it was widely held that The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood were the clear frontrunners.
But in the past few weeks, the mesmerising war picture 1917 and the international box-office phenomenon Parasite (hailing from South Korea) are now considered to be the faves. A 1917 victory will represent a win for traditionalists, while a Parasite triumph will point to a rapidly changing future.
THE BIGGEST WINNER?
It has to be Joaquin Phoenix as Best Actor for Joker. And not just for the deserved recognition of a sensationally transformative next-level performance.
This victory will also mark the completion of a long journey back from a wilderness of his own making (Phoenix famously blew up his career in 2008 after announcing a hoax retirement to become a rapper).
If the recent Golden Globe ceremony is any indicator, Phoenix's speech will be well worth the listen.
This is one dude unafraid to call it as he sees it (and detonate many an F-bomb as he does so).
Veteran filmmaker Martin Scorsese can rightly consider himself wronged by the Academy once their likely snubbing of his superb handling of The Irishman is confirmed.
If The Irishman was not a big-budget Netflix production, Scorsese's moniker would already be pre-engraved on the Best Director statuette. Instead, he's no chance of winning.
The ball chained to his ankle is Hollywood's prejudice against prestige productions from major streaming platforms such as Netflix (a stance which controversially cost Roma a Best Picture win last year).
The Academy still leaves itself wide open to criticism when it comes to gender discrimination against female creatines (no women making the Best Director field is a ridiculous oversight) and a lack of racial diversity across all categories. This will continue to be the case while the Academy membership still scans as predominantly white, male and aged over 60. During the Oscars show, you can expect many a winning speech to mention all of the above, along with shout-outs against US President Donald Trump (it is an election year in the US) and calls for urgent action on the climate-change front.
AND THE WINNER IS …
Front Runner: 1917
Dark Horse: Parasite
Front Runner: Joaquin Phoenix, Joker
Dark Horse: Adam Driver, Marriage Story
Front Runner: Renée Zellweger, Judy
Dark Horse: Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Front Runner: Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Dark Horse: Joe Pesci, The Irishman
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Front Runner: Laura Dern, Marriage Story
Dark Horse: Florence Pugh, Little Women
* The 92nd Academy Awards, 6am red carpet, E! 12noon live ceremony, Seven, encore 7.30pm, 7Flix