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The Votes Are In: Zebra Versus The Academy

By Kelly MacConomy

92nd Oscars® nominees at the Oscar Nominee Luncheon held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom, Monday, January 27, 2020. The 92nd Oscars will air on Sunday, February 9, 2020 live on ABC.

The Votes Are In

No not the Iowa Caucus. Although that is shaping up to be a mishap comparable to the Best Picture brouhaha of 2018 when La La Land was erroneously announced the Oscar winner instead of Moonlight due to an envelope mix-up. Oscar relishes drama and setting precedents. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not disappoint this year- without opening a single envelope.

February 4th, the day the Oscar voting closed, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tweeted what was erroneously believed to be the official accounting results from Price Waterhouse.

Voting ended February 4 but not before the Academy, in a mock-Oscar vote count via Twitter, tweeted what was for a time believed to be the proverbial cat let out of the bag. The tweet was quickly removed but not before At Z Movies secured a screen shot. The Academy quickly tweeted their explanations:

The purloined publishing of purported Oscar winners remains however a fairly accurate assessment of the sentiment in La La Land regarding predictions.

Parasite versus 1917?

Parasite became a juggernaut — the veritable little film that could. With ten nominations including both Best Picture and Best International Feature Film, it wasn’t going to ignored. Expectations  early-on were that it was a shoe-in for best foreign language film with a potential repeat of last year’s Best Picture-nominated Roma, when the Mexican film in English subtitles won for Best Direction and Best Cinematography as well as Best International Feature Film.

No film has ever won Best Picture and Best Foreign Film (now Best International Feature Film) simultaneously. Insiders have long expected 1917 to go the distance but a Parasite box-office surge, earning a gross of $33.2 million in the U.S. and Canada as of February 5, with an additional $132.2 million internationally has given Parasite an edge. Winning Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last month is a strong indicator that the actors, who represent the largest body among Academy branch members, are pulling for a Parasite coup.

The preferential voting system and expanding nominations in the Best Picture category from five to up to ten films in 2009 have decreased the odds of the same film being awarded both the Best Picture and Best Director. The Oscar preferential voting system, as explained in the February Zebra “At Z Movies“, is nearly as convoluted as the Iowa Caucus Delegate precinct determinations.

The No-Brainer Definite Wins

Let’s look at what awards seem to be in the bag. Aside from Parasite winning Best International Feature, Oscar viewers can expect to enjoy encore pithy acceptance shtick from Brad Pitt for Best Supporting Actor in Quentin Tarantino’s answer to La La Land, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. After seven Oscar nominations with one win for producing the 2012 Best Picture Twelve Years A Slave. Pitt is poised for accepting an acting Oscar.

Laura Dern won’t go home empty-handed Sunday night, earning a gold statuette for portraying a divorce lawyer fighting Draconian family law with a preachy performance indicting the current state of feminism in Marriage Story, one of two Netflix Best Picture nominated films. By all accounts, Dern’s body of work coupled with her Hollywood heritage (conceived on set, Oscar nominees Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd are her parents) put her in the win column across the board.

Renée Zellwegger for all intents and purposes needs to rehearse that Oscar-acceptance speech. She has won all the statues this award season for her portrait of Judy Garland. Everyone loves a comeback performance about a comeback star. Look for Renée in a front-row center seat. The closest competition is Saoirse Ronan for her feisty March sister Jo in Little Women. With three Oscar nominations already by the age of 25, she packs a lot of star power of her own.

Rather than predicting who will win and who should win instead, for something new, we’ll list the likely winner and the At Z Movies Zebra choice if we had a vote in determining “the Oscar goes to…..”
The Oscar categories are listed below in the likely presentation order during the 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, broadcast on ABC beginning at 8:00 PM EST.


Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Likely to Win: Laura Dern
Zebra Vote: Laura Dern- she sure told it like it is! As a shark divorce lawyer Dern made us plead with Scarlett Johansson to take back Alan Alda (who deserved a Best Supporting Actor nomination) as her attorney.

Makeup and Hairstyling

Likely to Win: Bombshell — making three beautiful women in their prime look like three other contemporary beautiful women apparently takes work!
Zebra Vote: Joker– Baby, Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t born that way.

Documentary Feature

Likely to Win: American Factory — with the gravitas of Barack and Michelle Obama behind the production, voters of all kinds will hope to see them onstage.
Zebra Vote: Ditto- despite the popular political star power it’s a timely and important topic.

Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen and Laura Dern in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’ SONY AND COLUMBIA

Costume Design

Likely to Win: Little Women — those who feel Greta Gerwig was snubbed will want a win somehow.
Zebra Vote: Little Women- you just can’t beat the 1800’s for fantastic fashion flare.

Film Editing

Likely to Win: Ford v Ferrari — luckily 1917 isn’t a contender.
Zebra Vote:  Ford v Ferrari- Parasite makes a good candidate but I’m going for speed for thrill.

Production Design

Likely to Win: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood– Hollywood loves, well, Hollywood!
Zebra Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood– It’s a very long film, recreating Hollywood as it once was and will never be the same again. That’s a YUGE undertaking.

1917 poster UNIVERSAL


Likely to Win: 1917
Zebra Vote: The Lighthouse– this film impressed old and new Hollywood, and while the single shot camera work of 1917 proved to be groundbreaking, the effective black and white cinematography of The Lighthouse carved out a niche of its own. 1917 has the big guns for the win. Perhaps a nomination for The Lighthouse is kudos enough.

Sound Mixing

Likely to Win: 1917
Zebra Vote: Ford v. Ferrari– it’s hard to decide between warring big-bomb “booms” and Le Mans race-car speeding “vrooms” but with 1917 taking home so many Oscars, this film, nominated for Best Picture, needed some love.

Foreign Language Film

Likely to Win: Parasite unless they cast the vote for Parasite as Best Picture and vote for Pain and Glory here instead.
Zebra Vote: Parasite- it seems to be a lock and for good reason. See this film! You’ll thank us later.

Actor in a  Supporting Role

Likely to Win: Brad Pitt- because… ya know!
Zebra Vote: Brad Pitt- you just can’t picture the film without him in that role.

Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Animated Feature Film

Likely to Win: Klaus– the voters seem to be moving away from Pixar picks. But Woody’s last stand may sway with sentimental stars and filmmakers.
Zebra Vote: Klaus– Netflix is taking Hollywood by storm. And who doesn’t love Santa?

Live Action Short Film

Likely to Win: The Neighbors’ Window
Zebra Vote: The Neighbors’ Window — home-field advantage rules.

Animated Short Film

Likely to Win: Hair Love
Zebra Vote: Hair Love — poise counts!

From Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva’s Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl). Lifetime Films

Documentary Short Subject

Likely to Win: In the Absence — if last year’s award order remains the same, Absence is on track to beat out Parasite as the first South Korean film to win an Oscar.
Zebra Vote: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) Set in Kabul. The title says it all.

Visual Effects

Likely to Win: 1917.  Avengers: Endgame was boffo socko at the box office but there is cinephile elitism backlash at play, eschewing comic-book action flick domination prevalent in the industry.
Zebra Vote: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker– a purely sentimental, end-of-án-era dynasty farewell tribute choice.

Original Screenplay

Likely to Win: Parasite– the sentimental favorite, it’s clever and unique, much like the entertaining also nominated Knives Out, but it doesn’t replay as well as others once you know the twists.
Zebra Vote: Marriage Story– every word had resonance and there were a lot of acting Oscar nods coming out of that screenplay. Besides, Hollywood knows from the ugly divorce.

First still from the set of WW2 satire, JOJO RABIT. (From L-R): Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) has dinner with his imaginary friend Adolf (Writer/Director Taika Waititi), and his mother, Rosie (Scarlet Johansson). Photo by Kimberley French. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Adapted Screenplay

Likely to Win: JoJo Rabbitt- Taika Waititi crafted a clever comedy with an anti-hate message utilizing an unfathomable device, Hitler. There remains a Greta Gerwig feminist faction for her reinvention of the beloved book and Hollywood classic Little Women.
Zebra Vote: The Two Popes– it’s astonishingly delightful- witty and poignant. And on Netflix. Pop your own corn!

Original Score

Likely to Win: Thomas Newman for 1917– an epic film requires an epic score.
Zebra Vote: Hildur Guonadóttir for Joker– proving that a woman can write and direct an Oscar-caliber score if not a film.

Original Song

Likely to Win: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again from Rocketman; hard to beat the songwriting dynamic duo of Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin.
Zebra Vote: Stand Up from Harriet because who doesn’t want to see Cynthia Erivo join the EGOT club? At the Middlleburg Film Festival screening this closing song had the entire audience on their feet, singing and clapping like a southern Baptist revival.

Actor In a Leading Role

Likely to Win: Joaquin Phoenix- he’s got pathos nailed down alright, but he already has an Oscar.
Zebra Vote: Adam Driver- he’s an actor’s actor in a portrayal that drives it straight at the heart and soul.

Actress in a Leading Role

Likely to Win: Renee Zellwegger- clang clang clang goes the Oscar.
Zebra Vote: Cynthia Erivo- her expansive talent is ever astonishing, having already won an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony. Plus as Harriet Tubman she gave a truly outstanding interpretation of an American heroine. Zellwegger has an Oscar and there are going to be a lot of (ahem) “natural” blondes picking up acting Oscars Sunday night.


Likely to Win: Sam Mendes- epic is as epic does.
Zebra Vote: Bong Joon Ho- Parasite just might make history and be the first foreign language film to win Best Picture. I just hate it when the Best Picture of the year apparently directed itself but it happens a lot. Four times in the last ten years.

Winner of three Academy Awards in 2019 including Best Picture, Green Book producer, director, and screenplay writer Peter Farrelly, right, poses with 3-time Best Actor nominee Viggo Mortensen, left and the film score composer Kris Bowens, center. On the far left is Award-winning filmmaker Susan Koch, Executive Director of the Middleburg Film Festival with Founder, Board Chair, and host Salamander Resort owner Sheila Johnson, far right. The Middleburg Film Festival annually showcases critically acclaimed award-winning films that go on to Oscar nomination and wins. Photo Kelly MacConomy

Best Picture 

Likely to Win: 1917– it’s epic and BP loves epic.
Zebra Vote: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood– a film that stands the test of time, classic Tarantino without an unrelenting bloodbath, an unusually successful, award-winning, extraordinary summer release, set in Hollywood, revisiting that age-old question, “What if we could back in time and make things different?” If 1917 and Parasite split the vote this is the film to take the top prize!

Four of the nine Best Picture nominees, left to right, Little Women, JoJo Rabbit, Parasite, and Joker.

MORE: And the Oscar Doesn’t Go To…Why Do Women and Minorities Get Upstaged at the Academy Awards?

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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