2020 Oscars Preview: Part 2

This is your guide to the major nominees of the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony. Part 2 covers the Actor and Director nominations.

There’s always a lot of talk leading up to the big day about who will win what awards. We try to make our predictions based on trends from the past, but we can’t help to be swayed by our own personal opinions. Some movies truly strike a chord with us, while others aren’t interesting at all. Furthermore, Oscar films are usually heavy in the drama department and therefore they aren’t always the easiest or most entertaining movies to watch.

That’s why we’re here. We’ve compiled the following brief summaries, interesting facts, and critical reviews for all these films and people. The goal is to give you a solid background even if you haven’t been able to catch up with this year’s nominees. So read on, and then start planning your Oscar-related drinking game.

For Part 1 of Our 2020 Oscars Preview, click here!

Best Actor Nominees

Antonio Banderas – as Salvado Mallo in Pain and Glory

Age: 59

Previously Best Known For: 

The Mask of Zorro

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Was nominated for Broadway’s 2003 Tony Award for best actor, musical, for a revival of the musical Nine. 

Leonardo DiCaprio – as Rick Dalton in Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

Age: 45

Previously Best Known For: 

Titanic

Inception

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2016 – Won, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – as Hugh Glass in The Revenant

2014 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street

2007 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – as Danny Archer in Blood Diamond

2005 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role – as Howard Hughes in The Aviator

1994 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Arnie Grape in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Interesting Fact: DiCaprio, along with Kate Winslow and director James Cameron publicly pledged to support the financial future of the last living Titanic survivor after it was reported she had been forced to sell her mementos to pay for nursing home bills.  

Adam Driver – as Charlie in Marriage Story 

Age: 36

Previously Best Known For: 

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

BlackKklansman

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2019 – Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – as Flip Zimmerman in BlackKklansman

Interesting Fact: Served in the Marine Corp, and now runs a non-profit foundation called Arts in the Armed Forces. 

Joaquin Phoenix – as Arthur Fleck in Joker

Age: 45

Previously Best Known For: 

Walk the Line

Her

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2013 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Freddie Quell in The Master

2006 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as John R. Cash in Walk the Line

2001 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Commodus in Gladiator

Interesting Fact: He is a strict vegan. He refuses to wear any costumes made out of animal skin. 

Jonathan Pryce – as Pope Francis in The Two Popes

Age: 72

Previously Best Known For: 

Tomorrow Never Dies

Brazil

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: Performed in plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company, from 1978 to 1987.  

Best Actress Nominees

Cynthia Erivo – as Harriet Tubman in Harriet

Age: 33

Previously Best Known For: 

Widows

Bad Times at the El Royale

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: If she wins an Oscar this year (she also has a nomination for Best Original Song), she would become an EGOT – a person who has the extraordinary achievement of winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony award. 

Scarlett Johansson – as Nicole in Marriage Story

Age: 35

Previously Best Known For: 

The Avengers

Lost in Translation

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None (but also nominated this year for Supporting Actress, see below)

Interesting Fact: has an older brother, an older sister, an older half-brother, and a twin. her twin and her older sister are both actors. 

Saoirse Ronan – as Jo March in Little Women

Age: 25

Previously Best Known For: 

Brooklyn

Ladybird

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2008 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Briony Tallis, aged 13, in Atonement

2016 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Eilis in Brooklyn

2018 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Lady Bird McPherson in Ladybird

Interesting Fact: Learned the French language for her role as Mary Stuart in Mary, Queen of Scots. 

Charlize Theron – as Megyn Kelly in Bombshell

Age: 44

Previously Best Known For: 

Mad Max: Fury Road

Monster

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2003 – Winner, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Aileen in Monster

2006 – Nominee, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – as Josey Aimes in North Country

Interesting Fact: Used hypnotherapy as an aid to quit smoking.

Rene Zellweger – as Judy Garland in Judy

Age: 50

Previously Best Known For: 

Chicago

Cold Mountain

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2002 – Nominee, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’ Diary

2003 – Nominee, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Roxie Hart in Chicago

2004 – Winner, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Ruby Thewes in Cold Mountain

Interesting Fact: With no dance or voice training, she learned how to perform for Chicago (2002) by watching co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones. 

Best Supporting Actor Nominees

Tom Hanks – as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Age: 63

Previously Best Known For: 

Forrest Gump

Big

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

Nominee – 1989, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Josh in Big

Winner – 1994, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Andy Beckett in Philadelphia

Winner – 1995, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump

Nominee – 1999, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Captain Miller in Saving Private Ryan

Nominee – 2001, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Chuck Noland in Cast Away

Interesting Fact: Only the second actor to ever win back-to-back acting Oscars. The only other person to do this was Spencer Tracy in 1937 and 1938. 

Anthony Hopkins – as Pope Benedict in The Two Popes

Age: 82

Previously Best Known For: 

Silence of the Lambs

The Remains of the Day

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1992 – Won, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs

1994 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Stevens in The Remains of the Day

1996 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Richard Nixon in Nixon

1998 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as John Quincy Adams in Amistad

Interesting Fact: Many of the mannerisms of the character Hannibal Lecter were improvised by Hopkins during filming. This includes the various sounds he made and the idea that Lecter would not blink when speaking. 

Al Pacino – as Jimmy Hoffa in The Irishman

Age: 79

Previously Best Known For: 

Scarface

The Godfather

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1973 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

1974 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Serpico in Serpico

1975 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Michael in The Godfather Part II

1976 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Sonny in Dog Day Afternoon

1980 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Arthur Kirkland in Injustice for All

1991 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Big Boy Capris in Dick Tracy

1993 – Winner, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman

1993 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Ricky Roma in Glen Garry Glen Ross

Interesting Fact: Pacino boycotted the Academy Awards ceremony for 1973, insulted at being nominated for the supporting actor award as he noted that he had more screen time than co-star and Best Actor winner Marlon Brando, who also boycotted the awards (but for unrelated reasons). 

Joe Pesci – as Russell Bufalino

Age: 76

Previously Best Known For: 

Goodfellas

My Cousin Vinny

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1981 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Joey in Raging Bull

1991 – Winner, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Tommy Devito in Goodfellas

Interesting Fact: His acceptance speech at the Academy Awards is the second shortest in history at just five words and 3 seconds. “It’s my privilege, thank you.” The shortest is Alfred Hitchcock who just said “Thanks” when receiving his lifetime achievement award. 

Brad Pitt – as Cliff Booth in Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood

Age: 56

Previously Best Known For: 

Fight Club

Twelve Monkeys

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1996 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Supporting Role – as Jeffery Goines Twelve Monkeys

2009 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Benjamin Button in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

2012 – Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role – as Billy Beane in Moneyball

Interesting Fact: Banned from entering China because of his role in Seven Years in Tibet. 

Best Supporting Actress Nominees

Kathy Bates – as Bobi Jewell in Richard Jewell

Age: 71

Previously Best Known For: 

Misery

Dolores Claiborne

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1991 – Winner, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Annie Wilkes in Misery

1999 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Libby Holden in Primary Colors

2003 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Robert Hertzel in About Schmidt

Interesting Fact: She was the first woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress in a horror/thriller film for her role as Annie Wilkes in Misery. 

Laura Dern – as Nora Fanshaw in Marriage Story

Age: 52

Previously Best Known For: 

Jurassic Park

Blue Velvet

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

1992 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Leading Role – as Rose in Rambling Rose

2015 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Bobbi in Wild

Interesting Fact: David Lynch unsuccessfully pursued for her to receive an Oscar nomination for Inland Empire by managing an Oscar Campaign in which he solely stood on Hollywood Boulevard accompanied by a cow and banner featuring a shot of Dern from the movie. 

Scarlett Johansson – as Rosi in Jojo Rabbit

Nominated for Best Actress, see above! 

Florence Pugh – as Amy March in Little Women

Age: 24

Previously Best Known For: 

Midsommar

Lady MacBeth

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: The cast of Little Women rehearsed the script for 2 weeks before filming began. But Pugh was not able to participate as she was filming Midsommar at the time. She stated that she believed this helped create distance between her and her costars which proved conducive for her character’s personality. 

Margot Robbie – as Kayla Pospisil in Bombshell

Age: 29

Previously Best Known For: 

The Wolf of Wall Street

I, Tonya

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

2018 – Nominated, Best Actress in a Supporting Role – as Tanya Harding in I, Tanya

Interesting Fact: Learned to hold her breath for five minutes during the filming of Suicide Squad. 

Best Director Nominees:

Martin Scorsese – The Irishman

Age: 77

Previously Best Known For: 

Goodfellas

The Departed

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

Nomination – Best Director in 1981 – Raging Bull

Nomination – Best Director in 1989 – The Last Temptation of Christ

Nomination – Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay in 1991 – Goodfellas

Nomination – Best Director in 1991 – Goodfellas

Nomination – Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay in 1994 – The Age of Innocence

Nomination – Best Director in 2003 – Gangs of New York

Nomination – Best Achievement in Directing in 2005 – The Aviator

Winner – Best Achievement in Directing in 2007 – The Departed

Nomination – Best Achievement in Directing in 2012 – Hugo

Nomination – Best Motion Picture in 2012 – Hugo

Nomination – Best Motion Picture in 2014 – The Wolf of Wall Street

Nomination – Best Achievement in Direction in 2014 – The Wolf of Wall Street

Interesting Fact: Taught both Oliver Stone and Spike Lee at New York University. 

Todd Phillips – Joker

Age: 49

Previously Best Known For: 

The Hangover

Old School

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

Nomination – Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay in 2007 – Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation Kazakhstan

Interesting Fact: Phillips appeared as one of the drivers in the first season of the HBO hidden camera docu-series Taxicab Confessions. 

Sam Mendes – 1917

Age: 54

Previously Best Known For: 

Skyfall

American Beauty

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

Winner – Best Director in 2000 – American Beauty

Interesting Fact: He is the first Oscar-winning director to helm a James Bond movie. He is also the first director since John Glen to help two Bond movies in a row. 

Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood

Age: 56

Previously Best Known For: 

Pulp Fiction

Inglorious Basterds

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

Nominee – Best Director in 1995 – Pulp Fiction

Winner – Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen in 1995 – Pulp Fiction

Nominee – Best Achievement in Directing in 2010 – Inglorious Basterds

Nominee – Best Writing, Original Screenplay in 2010 – Inglorious Basterds

Winner – Best Writing, Original Screenplay in 2013 – Django Unchained

Interesting Fact: As of September 2015, Tarantino’s films have grossed $1,407,548,403 worldwide. 

Bong Joon-Ho – Parasite

Age: 50

Previously Best Known For: 

Showpiecer

The Host

Previous Oscar Nominations/Wins:

None

Interesting Fact: The Host and Snowpiercer are among the highest grossing movies of all time in South Korea.