Trophy Talk

Trophy Talk: Avengers: Endgame, Parasite, and Rocketman Lead Potential Nominees on Oscar Shortlists

Get the jump on Oscar nominations with our predictions for who will be nominated and why.

by | December 18, 2019 | Comments

Avengers Endgame

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

During Awards Season, Rotten Tomatoes editor Jacqueline Coley will be reporting on the big contenders, the most important ceremonies, and surprise shifts in the race towards Oscar gold.

For reasons yet to be understood, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) have opted to condense this year’s awards season by two weeks, as the Oscars, which are typically held the last week of February, have been moved up to the first week of the month. This has put the entire industry into a scramble with what is already a brutal grind of events, screenings, and glad-handing — that is, “the season.” Despite this, the usual players are working the right rooms and meeting voters in the hopes of snagging one of those elusive golden statuettes. Most of the Oscar categories are nominated by their various branches; directors nominate directors, actors nominate actors, and all the branches vote for Best Picture. However, many branches have a preliminary sub-committee made up of members and professionals who help whittle down the potential noms to a workable list called the “shortlist,” and the various branches vote off of that. This year, the Academy released the names of the selected films from nines categories. In this, our first installment of Trophy Talk for the 2019 season, we break down the feature-length categories, single out our favorites, and place early odds on the eventual nominees and winners.

Best Visual Effects

Alita: Battle Angel (2019) 61%
Avengers: Endgame (2019) 94%
Captain Marvel (2019) 79%
Marriage Story (2019) 94%
Breakthrough (2019) 63%
Gemini Man (2019) 27%
The Irishman (2019) 95%
The Lion King (2019) 52%
1917 (2019) 88%
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 52%
1917 (2019) 88%

Early responses to the trailer for Cats and early screening reactions to the film have been none too kind, particularly on the visual effects side. Still, the VFX shorts committee saw enough to include it here. It’s puzzling, as James Gray’s Ad Astra, a brilliant film with jaw-dropping visuals, was regrettably omitted. In the end, The Lion King, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Avengers Endgame will likely make it to Oscar night to duke it out amongst themselves.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Bombshell (2019) 68%
Dolemite Is My Name (2019) 97%
Rocketman (2019) 89%
Joker (2019) 68%
Judy (2019) 82%
Little Women (2019) 95%
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019) 39%
1917 (2019) 88%
Joker (2019) 68%
Judy (2019) 82%

Our pick for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling in 2020 has been locked since we saw the first trailer for Bombshell. Charlize Theron’s eerie transformation into Fox News anchor Meghan Kelly was achieved primarily through the aid of makeup, but it is John Lithgow’s near unrecognizable turn as Fox News founder Roger Ailes that clinched this one for us. Dolemite is My Name and Rocketman are our picks to join Bombshell with a nomination, but there’s no question who’s winning.

Best Documentary Feature

Advocate (2019) 100%
American Factory (2019) 95%
Apollo 11 (2019) 99%
The Apollo (2019) 95%
The Biggest Little Farm (2018) 91%
Aquarela (2018) 86%
The Cave (2019) 97%
The Edge of Democracy (2019) 97%
For Sama (2019) 98%
The Great Hack (2019) 85%
Honeyland (2019) 100%
Maiden (2018) 98%
Midnight Traveler (2019) 100%
One Child Nation (2019) 98%

This category is always precarious. Last year what we all assumed to be the odds-on favorite, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, failed to make it off the shortlist, and IMAX thrill ride Free Solo took home the top prize. This year, the competition is currently wide open with For Sama, The Biggest Little Farm, and Apollo 11 all marked as strong contenders. Adding in Honeyland, which competes here and in the Best International Film Category, it’s anyone’s guess who makes it off the shortlist, but one thing we know for sure: It has been an outstanting year for Documentary features.

Best International Film


(Photo by Courtesy Cannes Film Festival)

The Painted Bird (2019) 81%
Truth and Justice (2019)
Les misérables (2019) 88%
Marriage Story (2019) 94%
Honeyland (2019) 100%
Corpus Christi (2019) 98%
Beanpole (2019) 93%
Atlantics (2019) 96%
Parasite (2019) 99%
Pain and Glory (2019) 96%

This one is not even a question. Parasite is getting the nomination, and it’s winning. Nothing will stop it now. The only uncertainty is who will join the Cannes Palme d’Or winner when nominations are announced. We’re looking at Atlantics, Honeyland, Pain & Glory, and Les Miserables, but each one would join with full knowledge there is no chance they can win.

Best Song


(Photo by Neon)

“Speechless” from Aladdin
“Letter To My Godfather” from The Black Godfather
“I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough
“Da Bronx” from The Bronx USA
“Into The Unknown” from Frozen II
“Stand Up” from Harriet
“Catchy Song” from The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
“Never Too Late” from The Lion King
“Spirit” from The Lion King
“Daily Battles” from Motherless Brooklyn
“A Glass of Soju” from Parasite
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
“High Above The Water” from Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am
“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4
“Glasgow” from Wild Rose

Taylor Swift fans were more than a little upset she failed to make it to the Oscars shortlist for her new song for the musical Cats, but Beyoncé fans have more than enough to cheer about. As with Lady Gaga in 2019, many will vote for “Spirit” from The Lion King just for a chance to see Beyoncé perform in the flesh, but we think that is where the comparison ends, as Frozen II‘s “Into the Unknown” is the clear front-runner.

Best Score

Avengers Endgame

(Photo by Marvel Studios)

Avengers: Endgame (2019) 94%
Bombshell (2019) 68%
The Farewell (2019) 97%
Ford v Ferrari (2019) 92%
Frozen II (2019) 77%
Jojo Rabbit (2019) 80%
Joker (2019) 68%
The King (2019) 70%
Little Women (2019) 95%
Marriage Story (2019) 94%
Motherless Brooklyn (2019) 64%
1917 (2019) 88%
Pain and Glory (2019) 96%
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) 52%
Us (2019) 93%

Based on the buzz and our Awards Leaderboard, Joker, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Little Women, 1917, and Marriage Story are pretty much locks for us, but keep an eye out for US, The King, or Avengers: Endgame to pull a last-minute upset for a nomination. Also, please allow us just a moment to lament the fact that the pulse-pounding score for Uncut Gems failed to make the list.

Nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards will be announced on Monday, January 13 at 5am PST / 8am EST. Check back at Rotten Tomatoes to see who gets a nod! 

Are you as obsessed with awards as we are? Check out our Awards Leaderboard for 2019/2020.

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