Somehow, amazingly, in my whole history at LaineyGossip, I’ve never done a full Oscars prognostication. Well, no more! In this, the weirdest of all years, here’s my extremely scientific prediction of the Oscars nominations, which are set to be announced Monday morning. I shall attempt to guess the nominees in a year in which it felt like there were no movies. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, though. First, these are not my picks for best films of the year. If you want that list, you can read it here. This is about what I think the Academy is most likely to nominate which, as we know, is not always synonymous with “best” (see also: Green Book). 


Secondly, guessing the Academy’s taste this year is harder than usual because I doubt the majority of the Academy has seen the majority of the eligible films. There is always a bit of an “I didn’t actually see all the movies” issue with the Oscars, but it is exacerbated by the proliferation of digital screeners. There have been endless complaints about the Academy’s screening platform, from a wonky user interface to buffering issues, not to mention that we have a heavy slate of sad ass dramas that becomes VERY hard to get through without any relief. Now more than ever, I think the Academy will be voting for who they know and what they’ve heard of instead of what they’ve actually seen, which is why you shouldn’t be surprised if mediocre films like Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7 bag a lot of nominations, and if it ends up feeling like the same five or six films got nominated for everything. And now, onto my extremely scientific predictions for the 2020 Oscars nominations. As always, names/titles are listed alphabetically, not ranked.

Best Picture

This year, the Academy abandons its mystifying weighted voting system for an even ten Best Picture nominees, just in time for the year in which there were no movies (or at least that’s how it felt). Get ready for the #1 hit of the season, “No One Has Seen That Movie”, to play on repeat from now until April 25. God that’s so far away, and they STILL can’t have a full, in-person ceremony. Delaying was pointless. Anyway, the nominees will be:

Judas and the Black Messiah

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom




One Night In Miami

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

The Father

The Trial of the Chicago 7


Best Director

I am bracing myself for an inevitable Aaron Sorkin nomination for The Trial of Chicago 7, a bad movie that is embarrassingly on-the-nose and obvious, even by Sorkin standards. I choose to see this as a retroactive nomination for Molly’s Game, and I recommend you do, too.

Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

David Fincher – Mank

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari

Regina King – One Night In Miami


Best Actor

This category is a lock, I don’t know why we’re even pretending anyone else has a shot. Still, “Academy Award nominee Riz Ahmed” and “Academy Award nominee Steven Yeun” will be fun to say.

Anthony Hopkins – The Father

Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Gary Oldman – Mank 

Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal

Steven Yeun – Minari


Best Actress

Coming off her Golden Globes win Andra Day picked up a lot of heat, but this is still a crazy competitive category.

Andra Day – The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman

Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman

Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


Best Supporting Actor

Sacha Baron Cohen has been WORKING for this. Can you imagine how much more of him we would have seen if they were having all the parties, et cetera? This category is a lot more competitive than Best Actor, with not only more open odds at the final result, but a more crowded field of potential nominees given the number of ensemble films in 2020. The Oscars really should consider a Best Ensemble category. 

Alan S. Kim – Minari 

Daniel Kaluuya – Judas and the Black Messiah

Leslie Odom, Jr. – One Night In Miami

Paul Raci – Sound of Metal

Sacha Baron Cohen – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Supporting Actress

I know who Lainey is rooting for in this category: the inimitable Youn Yuh-jung. We can talk about her odds at winning after the nominations are announced, but this is the most-wide open of the acting races. It really feels like anyone could take this category, there isn’t a clear favorite at this point. I’m also the least confident in these nominees, there are still so many icons (Ellen Burstyn) and ingenues on the table (Dominique Fishback, Helena Zengel). 

Amanda Seyfried – Mank

Jodie Foster – The Mauritanian

Maria Bakalova – Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Olivia Colman – The Father

Youn Yuh-jung – Minari


Best Original Screenplay

Again, any nomination for Aaron Sorkin should be taken as retroactive for Molly’s Game. I know this isn’t even the right category, as that was an adapted screenplay, but I am overlooking that.

Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Darius Marder & Abraham Marder – Sound of Metal

Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman

Jack Fincher – Mank

Lee Isaac Chung – Minari


Best Adapted Screenplay

This is another category where there are a couple obvious locks, but beyond that it is wide open. In these instances, I am defaulting to “What is the most likely thing they’ve heard of”. 

Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Florian Zellner & Christopher Hampton – The Father

Kemp Powers – One Night In Miami

Paul Greengrass & Luke Davies – News of the World

Ruben Santiago-Hudson – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


Best Editing

As we segue into technical and craft categories, keep in mind it isn’t likely most people voting not only haven’t seen many of the eligible films, but they also don’t always understand how this stuff works. We’re getting into real “obvious over art” territory here, though the potential for a Chloe Zhao triple crown (writing, editing, directing) is VERY exciting, and it would be 100% deserved if it happens.

Alan Baumgarten – The Trial of the Chicago 7

Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

Jennifer Lame – Tenet

Kirk Baxter – Mank

Mikkel E.G. Nielsen – Sound of Metal


Best Cinematography

Just because a film is in black and white doesn’t mean the cinematography is good, just saying.

Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

Erik Messerschmidt – Mank

Hoyte van Hoytema – Tenet 

Joshua James Richards – Nomadland

Lachlan Milne – Minari


Best Score

This is one of the most competitive categories, and now more than ever, it will rely on names people have heard, which is why I’m going ahead with Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross getting nominated twice, even though their work on Soul is WAY better than that of Mank, and their double nomination would come at the expense of the less known Emile Mosseri for Minari.

Alexandre Desplat – The Midnight Sky

James Newton Howard – News of the World

Ludwig Göransson – Tenet

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Mank 

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste – Soul

Best Original Song

Due to staggered eligibility for individual nominating branches of the Academy, “Edgar’s Prayer” from Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar isn’t eligible so this entire category is on THIN ICE. Silver lining, the real town of Husavik, Iceland is running an adorable Oscar campaign for Eurovision Song Contest.

“Fight For You” – Judas and the Black Messiah

“Husavik” – Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

“Io Si (Seen)” – The Life Ahead

“Speak Now” – One Night In Miami

“Turntables” – All In: The Fight for Democracy


Best Animated Feature Film

AKA Pixar’s Annual Oscar, which would be more deserved this year than in some past years, though Wolfwalkers is, for my money, the best animated film of the year.


Over the Moon

Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon




Best International Film

Justice for Minari at last! Thanks to the Academy previously specifying this category for productions outside the US, they actually have to consider Minari a domestic American film (which it is). This also leaves the category wide open for Another Round, the film with the most celebratory ending of 2020.

Another Round


La Llorona

Quo Vadis, Aida?

Two of Us


Best Documentary Feature Film

Boys State

Crip Camp

Dick Johnson Is Dead

The Truffle Hunters

Welcome to Chechnya


Best Visual Effects

This category is usually blockbuster-heavy, but there were no blockbusters in 2020. It’s going to be a funky lineup, especially since the shortlist excluded obvious choices like Tom Hanks’ World War II drama Greyhound for Vin Diesel comic book movie Bloodshot (if we end up with “Oscar Nominated Bloodshot” I will cry, I swear). Sonic the Hedgehog also didn’t make the shortlist, probably because delaying the film to redesign the titular digital character did it no favors.




The Midnight Sky

Welcome to Chechnya


Best Sound

Sounding editing is WHAT you hear, and sound mixing is HOW you hear it, but with digital capability, increasingly editors and mixers are doing the same job, so the Sound Branch voted to combine their categories into one. In the end it won’t matter, as this category will continue to reward the loudest movie of the year, not necessarily the film with the best use of sound. An exception could be made this year if Sound of Metal goes the distance.



News of the World

Sound of Metal



Best Production Design

The craft awards will be some combination of period design and recognizable title. Basically, if the movie is historical and contains at least one (1) movie star, it’s getting nominated, with the exception of Tenet. Everyone knows Christopher Nolan makes good-looking movies, so Tenet will get the benefit of the doubt, even though it is his blandest looking film in recent memory.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom



News of the World



Best Costume Design

There is some talk of splitting this category into “historical” and “contemporary” categories, which seems like a surefire way of getting it booted off the broadcast and to the non-televised Arts & Sciences awards. Costume designers deserve better. The Academy should just learn to recognize contemporary designs on the same level as historical work. Also, I don’t know where sci-fi/fantasy costumes would fit into that dichotomy. Just a bad idea all around. Watch it happen.


Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom


News of the World



Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The fact that Hillbilly Elegy is even in contention is an embarrassment, the wigs were awful.        

Birds of Prey


Hillbilly Elegy

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom



Best Live Action/ Animated/ Documentary Short Film

I am not going to lie, I haven’t seen all of the eligible shorts yet. The obvious contenders include Pixar’s Out for animated short film and Kapaemahu, a Native Hawaiian short narrated in Olelo Niihau, the only indigenous Hawaiian language unmarred by English and other languages. Over in documentary shorts, A Love Song for Latasha and Colette have been well received, and among live action shorts, The Human Voice and Oscar Isaac’s The Letter Room are top favorites. I promise to watch all of the nominated shorts by the time we start talking potential winners.