Editor's Note: Ahead of the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9, the Pioneer will have a series in the Weekender issues with predictions for major categories.
In 2017, the four acting categories at the Oscars were all won by the front-runners, after they had swept through the rest of the award season picking up victories at every other ceremony. It's looking to be the same case again going into the 92nd Academy Awards.
Here a look at the front-runners this year who're likely to take home the gold statutes on Oscar night, plus my picks for who may be more deserving.
- Antonio Banderas for "Pain and Glory"
- Leonardo DiCaprio for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
- Adam Driver for "Marriage Story"
- Joaquin Phoenix for "Joker"
- Jonathan Pryce for "The Two Popes"
Who will win: Joaquin Phoenix is a lock to win the Academy Award for his work in "Joker." So far he's won a trio of honors including the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and a Critic's Choice Award. On top of having momentum, while the critical response to "Joker" was mixed, his performance was largely praised.
Who should win: Of those nominated, having not seen "Pain and Glory," my pick would be for Driver. He gave a powerful, emotional and grounded performance in "Marriage Story" and he deserves recognition for it.
Snubbed: Brad Pitt's reserved performance in the sci-fi "Ad Astra," Eddie Murphy for his flamboyant work in "Dolemite is My Name" and Adam Sandler's chaotic acting in "Uncut Gems" all had good cases for nominations.
- Cynthia Erivo for "Harriet"
- Scarlett Johansson for "Marriage Story"
- Saoirse Ronan for "Little Women"
- Charlize Theron for "Bombshell"
- Renée Zellweger for "Judy"
Who will win: Zellweger is another performer who had a sweep with a Globe, a Critics Choice pick and a SAG award. Her performance as Judy Garland has been lauded as one of the best of her career and it's for good reason.
Who should win: While Zellweger was phenomenal in "Judy," Ronan and Johansson were also fantastic in their respective pictures. If either of those two won in an upset, I wouldn't complain.
Snubbed: I always feel like the Academy should expand to other genres. With that in mind, I think arguments can be made for a trio of actresses in horror films from 2019, including Florence Pugh in "Midsommar," Samara Weaving in "Ready or Not" and Lupita Nyong'o in "Us."
Best Supporting Actor
- Tom Hanks for "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"
- Anthony Hopkins for "The Two Popes"
- Al Pacino for "The Irishman"
- Joe Pesci for "The Irishman"
- Brad Pitt for "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"
Who will win: Like the other front-runners, Pitt has won several accolades already and he will an add an Oscar to his shelf in February. While DiCaprio was the star in "Once Upon a Time," Pitt was lauded for his performance as the stunt double in the movie. He's a lock for this.
Who should win: Joe Pesci's work in "The Irishman" was fantastic and arguably the best performance in the movie, and that's saying a lot. Pitt is deserving, too, but Pesci could win and it would be fair.
Snubbed: Willem Dafoe in "The Lighthouse" absolutely, positively should have been nominated. He was incredible in one of the most thrilling, suspenseful and creative films in 2019 and it's a shame his work hasn't earned more honors this award season.
Best Supporting Actress
- Kathy Bates for "Richard Jewell"
- Laura Dern for "Marriage Story"
- Scarlett Johansson for "Jojo Rabbit"
- Florence Pugh for "Little Women"
- Margot Robbie for "Bombshell"
Who will win: Dern also had a sweep with the Globes, Critics Choice and SAG awards, and she will add to that total. Her work was integral to making key pieces of "Marriage Story" work and she'll be honored for it on Oscar night.
Who should win: While Dern was great, Johansson gave a stronger performance in "Jojo Rabbit." Johansson's work in "Jojo Rabbit" was even stronger than what she did in "Marriage Story," and it's one of the best performances she's given in film.
Snubbed: "Parasite" was loaded with great performances, but So-dam Park was the clear standout, stealing a few scenes. Thomasin McKenzie of "Jojo Rabbit" was also superb with her work. Either actress should've been nominated in the category.