The 92nd Academy Awards takes place this Sunday, celebrating the best films and performances that the past year has had to offer. This year Joker, directed by Todd Phillips, leads with 11 total nominations.
The international feature film Parasite has become an audience favorite, and it competes for best picture top contenders including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino and 1917 by Sam Mendes.
There are nine films in total nominated for best picture, but film contributor Dave Luhrssen notes that this category is too large for all movies to compete in.
"[The Oscars] really should follow the lead of the Golden Globes and break out drama and comedy — that would make for a much more fair race," he says.
The Oscars are struggling with general audiences yet again, with complaints about the lack of diversity in its nominations and in some cases omissions for nominations. There are no female directors nominated and several actors, including Eddie Murphy and Awkwafina, were snubbed for best actor in their respective movies.
Plus, with a second year in a row with no host, there’s a question of what value the Oscars want to hold for its changing audience. Luhrssen says, "you would think that they would be, if nothing else, hyper-aware of how this will be perceived."
Fellow film contributor Ryan Jay says that while the audience roots for the underdog film or actor, the voting Academy is still not in touch with what general audiences want or resonate with.
"You can't gloss over the fact that studios put money behind A-list actors, behind their studio films that they release in November and December that they save to do their Oscar campaigns," he says. "It's political what gets nominated and how this all works."
For "best picture" win, Jay thinks it will be between Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and 1917. "Will it be a year that splits because the front-runner for director is Sam Mendes for 1917? We'll see what happens."
For best performance by an actor and actress, both Luhrssen and Jay agree that the awards sweep will most likely continue for Joaquin Phoenix for his Joker role and for Renée Zellweger in Judy.
"I would put my money behind those two winning," says Luhrssen. "That would be a great upset if somebody else took it."