Oscars: How Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama Could Impact the Odds for '1917,' 'Two Popes' and More Contenders

9:30 AM 1/6/2020

by Scott Feinberg

Several actors and filmmakers will be feted with tributes, while other hopefuls could see elevation from some high-profile — and unlikely — endorsements.

1917- The Two Popes - Publicity Stills - Split - H 2019
Universal Pictures; Courtesy of Netflix

  • Best Picture

    Jojo Rabbit

    On Dec. 19, the USC Shoah Foundation and Fox Searchlight announced plans to develop a classroom curriculum tied to the Holocaust dramedy. The film, which stars writer-director Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis, was also feted by Armie Hammer at a Jan. 3 reception in Los Angeles.

    Uncut Gems

    The Safdie brothers' eccentric drama went wide over the holidays and took in nearly $20 million in a week, passing that mark in overall gross and landing A24's largest five-day performance in its history. But those who saw it gave it a C+ CinemaScore — not a good sign for its awards prospects.

    Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

    The final installment in the Skywalker series, which stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and John Boyega, dominated the Christmas box office ($725.5 million worldwide) and is getting a real push by Disney, which sent screeners to guilds and took out FYC ads in L.A. newspapers.

    The Two Popes

    The drama starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce as, respectively, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis, finally hit the streaming service Dec. 20, but it was the only major Netflix title left off Barack Obama's favorite films list (even foreign-language movie Atlantics made the cut).

  • Best Director

    That's Sir Sam Mendes to you! The American Beauty Oscar winner was tapped by Queen Elizabeth II for a knighthood in the U.K.'s annual New Year's Honours List, Buckingham Palace announced Dec. 27.

  • Best Actor

    On Dec. 20, the two-time Oscar winner, who is in serious contention this year, unloaded about President Trump on Michael Moore's new podcast, which probably helps him with many Oscar voters, but not all.

  • Best Supporting Actor

    For his performance as a man on death row fighting for his life in Destin Daniel Cretton's drama, the Oscar winner received a Spotlight Award at the Palm Springs film festival's Jan. 2 gala.

  • Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

    The revered character actress, who is also enjoying strong notices for Little Women and the second season of Big Little Lies, received the Santa Barbara film festival's Vanguard Award.

  • Best International Feature


    South Korea's Oscar-shortlisted hit from Bong Joon Ho, which won the Palme d'Or in Cannes, continues to rack up big accolades around the world, most recently the Israeli Film Critics Association's best international feature award on Dec. 22.

    Truth and Justice 

    Poised to become Estonia's second nominee ever, it was awarded best international motion picture at the International Press Academy's Satellite Awards on Dec. 19, topping seven other shortlistees including Parasite.

  • Best Documentary

    Obama released his annual list of movie recommendations, which received massive coverage. This year's opened with him touting the Oscar-shortlisted doc from his and wife Michelle's own production company — the sort of publicity money cannot buy.

  • Best Original Song

    After two of his songs made the Oscar shortlist, Buckingham Palace announced that Elton John will become a Companion of Honour. He'll participate in an L.A. Q&A for Rocketman on Jan. 4.

    This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.