Best Picture Predictions for 2020

Last year was a solid year at the movies, but there wasn’t a lot of power behind its film’s punches.  There was quality at the top amongst the best films of 2018, but I didn’t think any of the year’s films were truly elite.  Being the movie nerd that I am, I typically look ahead two years at what films are scheduled to be released somewhere within that time frame.  It would probably be extremely premature and borderline irresponsible of me to write about the class of 2020 already, but I do remember thinking in 2017 that 2019 had some huge potential.

Now that 2019 is here, I thought I would have some fun to start the cinematic year.  So, speaking of being borderline irresponsible, I figured I would take a stab at predicting the contenders for the 2019 awards circuits.  This is the first time I am trying this out, but if I do well, maybe I’ll make this an annual staple on the site.

The following films below, in order of their projected release dates, are the films I am predicting will become household names by the end of the year.  I truly believe these films will show that, while 2018 may have been a top-heavy year for good movies, 2019 may turn out to be the deepest year since 2016 and one of the best years ever at the movies.

This list isn’t even taking into account the fun cash-cow blockbusters that are coming out this year, such as Avengers: End Game, Godzilla: King of Monsters, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Spider-Man: Far From Home or Men in Black International.

This isn’t including movies that could wind up being great but just barely missed my list such Joker, Downton Abbey or Rocketman.

We aren’t talking about highly anticipated remakes like Child’s Play, The Addams Family, Pet Sematary (yes, it’s spelled like that – it drives me crazy, too), Aladdin or Terminator…or sequels like Frozen 2, Toy Story 4, It: Chapter 2, or the next Jumanji.

The depth of potentially great films and blockbuster money-makers in 2019 is incredible!  With that said, based on research, fellow critic buzz, casts and director/writer’s past acclamation, here’s is my list of 20 films that could very well be the best 2019 will have to offer.


Expected Release Date: 3/22

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, Elisabeth Moss

Director: Jordan Peele

Us is the highly anticipated follow-up to Get Out from Jordan Peele.  Although it isn’t directly connected to Get Out, Us is similar to it in that it’s an outside-the-box horror thriller tag-teaming psychology and sociology together to make for one crazy story that is sure to have us all on the edge of our seats – maybe even forcing us to look ourselves in the mirror differently afterwards.


The Best of Enemies

Expected Release Date: 4/5

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell

Director: Robin Bissell

This movie tells the important story of Ann Atwater, a 1971 civil rights activist who takes on the leader of the Ku Klux Klan in a battle for school integration in North Carolina public schools.  This one looks to check off key boxes – a historical true story that helped shape society with big-time actors at the helm.  I am not crazy about the April release date, though, which makes this a risky candidate to stick around in the minds of those on awards committees.



Expected Release Date: 6/28

Starring: Lily James, Kate McKinnon, Himesh Patel

Director: Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Love Actually) directs a unique dramatic comedy about a musician who through a series of events realizes he is the only person alive who remembers The Beatles.  This has this year’s The Big Sick written all over it as an overachieving dramedy that finds its way into the discussion amongst the elite films of the year.  In the least, it could very well become a favorite for the most original screenplay of 2019.


The Lion King

Expected Release Date: 7/19

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Beyonce

Director: Jon Favreau

This is one we have all been waiting for since it was announced over a year and a half ago.  Jon Favreau is taking on the tall task of bringing the Disney animated masterpiece to real life, and he certainly has the star power to make this a classic.  The original film is still legendary and the play is amazing, but let’s see if this live-action version lives up to its hype and becomes the true king.


Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Expected Release Date: 7/26

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Al Pacino

Director: Quentin Tarantino

If there is another movie this year with as much hype and anticipation around it as The Lion King, it’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.  Tarantino’s (Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction) movies are always events in themselves, and this one seems to follow suit.  A story with this bucket list cast about a Hollywood actor and his stunt double chasing fame together in 1969 Los Angeles has all the makings to become the next Tarantino cult classic.


The Woman in the Window

Expected Release Date: 10/4

Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman

Director: Joe Wright

I’m putting this in the “high-risk, high-reward” category.  The Woman in the Window is based on the popular novel by A.J. Finn and stars Amy Adams as a nosey New Yorker who observes a disturbing act of violence.  The synopsis may sound rudimentary, but this tale is anything but basic.  The suspenseful plot twists and distinctive story leads the audience on a roller-coaster ride that’s all about the destination as much as the journey.  Also, who picks better roles than Amy Adams and Gary Oldman?


The Goldfinch

Expected Release Date: 10/11

Starring: Sarah Paulson, Nicole Kidman, Finn Wolfhard, Jeffrey Wright

Director: John Crowley

Another popular novel turned into a big-time film this year, The Goldfinch is a Pulitzer Prize-winning story by Donna Tartt about a boy who is taken in by a wealthy New York family after his mother is killed in a terrorist attack.  This movie has been talked about a lot in critic circles, so we will see how it translates from the page to the big screen.  With an extremely skilled cast of actors and an up-and-coming director in John Crowley, who directed Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn in 2015, this is a story I am definitely looking forward to seeing come to life.


Ford v. Ferrari

Expected Release Date: 11/15

Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal

Director: James Mangold

Ford V. Ferrari is an interesting true story about Ford and Ferrari battling to win Le Mans, the world’s oldest active sports car race, in 1966.  It seems like every role Bale and Damon take up leads them to Oscar night.  I find very interesting that this movie easily could’ve been produced to be a summer blockbuster film, but instead is being released during the traditional awards season.  This also is James Mangold’s follow-up project to Logan, which was one of the best “superhero” films of all-time.


A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood

Expected Release Date: 11/22

Starring: Tom Hanks

Director: Marielle Heller

This might be the early odds-on favorite to be the best picture of the year.  Tom Hanks literally becomes Mister Rogers in this biopic about America’s favorite neighbor and his interesting friendship with journalist Tom Junod.  Biopic plus Tom Hanks equals Oscar contender.


JoJo Rabbit

Expected Release Date: Late 2019

Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson

Director: Taika Waititi

Jojo Rabbit is another contender for most unique screenplay of the year.  It is the story of a Nazi boy during World War II who finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish boy in their home.  Even crazier is the fact that the boy has an imaginary friend who happens to be a comedic version of Adolf Hitler.  This is a movie that sounds so crazy it must be (better be) good.  Director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) wrote the screenplay as well and is so crazy about it, that he insisted on playing Hitler himself in the film.  This is going to be thought-provoking to say the least.  This could be my biggest reach on the list, but it very well could surprise people – including me.


The Trial of the Chicago 7

Estimated Release Date: Late 2019

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Director: Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin is a masterful screenwriter.  Already having great films like The Social Network, Steve Jobs, Molly’s Game and A Few Good Men on his resume, The Trial of the Chicago 7 looks to become the next in line of his smart screenplays.  Starring Oscar-magnet Eddie Redmayne, this film tells the true story of people who are brought together from their various charges during the 1968 Democratic National Convention.  Sorkin typically writes films that at least become Oscar contenders and wind up as cult classics that have important messages arise from the historical accounts of the film, and this one appears to do the same.



Estimated Release Date: 12/20

Starring: Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench

Director: Tom Hooper

Like Les Miserables or Chicago before it, Cats is the next legendary Broadway play to hit the big screen.  Also, like the aforementioned two films, it features a star-studded cast.  Cats is hoping to join its Broadway predecessors in the Best Picture category at the Oscars as well.



Estimated Release Date: Christmas Day

Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George MacKay

Director: Sam Mendes

We are way overdue for a great World War I movie.  Although 1917 currently has an unknown plot synopsis, the fact that Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes is taking the controls writing and directing this movie is enough to get me excited.  I feel like the events and times of WWI have not yet been told in an appealing, charismatic way on the big screen, so I am hoping this is the film that does just that.


Little Women

Expected Release Date: Christmas Day

Starring: Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern

Director: Greta Gerwig

Time to dust off your copy of “Little Women” from high school.  This eighth remake of the literary classic is Greta Gerwig’s follow-up from 2017’s Lady Bird, a Best Picture nominee.  This cast is chock full of Oscar-nominated actors, so the odds are that at least one of them will get award nominations for their role in this movie.  Ever since this film was announced with Gerwig as its director, critics have been licking their chops in anticipation to see if she is the next great female director or just a flash in the pan.  P.S. – Meryl Streep alert!



Estimated Release Date: TBA

Starring: Lucas Hedges, Sterling K. Brown, Taylor Russell

Director: Trey Edward Shults

This is probably my boldest prediction on this list.  Waves isn’t on many “Oscar-watch” lists at the moment, but I just have a gut feeling that this movie could be the sleeper of the year.  Trey Edward Shults did a remarkable job on his last project, It Comes At Night, in 2017, not to mention that A24 is an awesome distribution company that has previously endorsed out-of-nowhere films such as Room and Moonlight in the past few years (of course, Moonlight climbed all the way to the top of the mountain and defied the odds by winning the Oscar for Best Picture in 2017), so Waves, a story about young love, feels like the underdog horse in the Kentucky Derby that doesn’t have much fanfare behind it but comes from a good pedigree.


The Last Thing He Wanted

Estimated Release Date: TBA

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Willem Dafoe, Ben Affleck

Director: Dee Rees

Dee Rees’ last project, Mudbound, was the most underrated movie of 2017.  In fact, I thought it was the best film of 2017.  Because of that, The Last Thing He Wanted is high on my list.  On top of that, having three great Oscar-nominated actors starring in the movie makes this an automatic preliminary award contender.  The film is about a journalist who quits her job during the middle of the 1984 presidential election to take care of her ill father, who happens to be a big-time become an arms dealer in the Iran-Contra affair.  Mudbound had a very intriguing plot, and The Last Thing He Wanted sounds like it is going to be captivating as well.


The Report

Estimated Release Date: TBA

Starring: Adam Driver, Jon Hamm, Annette Bening

Director: Scott Z. Burns

The Report is a movie about a revealing document that stated CIA agents used torture tactics to obtain information from people believed to be involved in the 9/11 terror attacks.  This was arguably the most well-received movie at the Sundance Film Festival in January, to which a lot of critics left believing Adam Driver might be in the driver’s seat to landing a Best Actor Oscar nomination this year.  All the awards circuits love these kinds of expose films (Spotlight, The Insider and JFK come to mind, for example), so this could have a comfortable seat at the contenders table.


The Irishman

Estimated Release Date: TBA

Starring: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin, Ray Romano, Harvey Keitel

Director: Martin Scorsese

The Irishman marks the highly anticipated return of Martin Scorsese getting back behind the camera, and he’s brought some familiar friends with him.  Robert De Niro, who worked with Scorsese on Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Casino, reunite with the legendary director for this project.  Scorsese also is reuniting with Joe Pesci, who he also worked with on Casino and Goodfellas.  Pesci doesn’t act often anymore, so the fact that he is attached to this project tells me it must have an incredible script.  Add Harvey Keitel to the mix and you have a “who’s who” of the best gangster actors in cinema history sharing one screen.  Oh yeah, and apparently there will be some serious CGI effects in this film that will allow all the main characters to play themselves while in their 30s for the first portion of the movie.  I can’t wait for this.


Untitled Roger Ailes Project

Estimated Release Date: TBA

Starring: Margot Robbie, Charlize Theron, Connie Britton, Nicole Kidman, Allison Janney, John Lithgow

Director: Jay Roach

In the midst of the #MeToo movement, this movie will definitely strike a chord with a lot of people, especially women.  This currently untitled project (unofficially called Fair and Balanced) focuses on the story of Roger Ailes, the Chairman of Fox News, who was fired for inappropriate conduct and failing to provide an equal workplace for women.  Director Jay Roach, who received critic acclamation for Trumbo back in 2015, gets to tackle this touchy true story and shed more light on this story that is still ongoing.



Estimated Release Date: TBA

Starring: Cynthia Erivo

Director:   Kasi Lemmons

Another historical biopic, Harriet tells the story of escaped slave Harriet Tubman and her journey helping to free other fellow slaves on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.  Cynthia Erivo is already receiving Oscar buzz for her portrayal of Harriet Tubman, and if this film lives up to its potential, it could become a juggernaut come awards season.

To sum all of this up, if you made me take a shot at predicting the list of Best Picture nominees at the 2020 Academy Awards, this would be my very tentative guess:

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The Irishman

The Report

Little Women


The Trial of the Chicago 7

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

The Goldfinch

Untitled Roger Ailes Project

Other potential contenders include: The Laundromat, Rocketman, Nomadland, Luce, The King, Queen and Slim