As of this week's announcements, the 2020 Academy Awards will see 34 individual movies fight it out for honors throughout the Oscars’ various categories of distinction. Out of those 34 movies, there are 18 that scored only a single nomination to their credit, with four films having only two to their name.
But when it comes to those last 12 films we’re going to mention by name, we’ve got heavy hitters that have received at least three nominations, with the high water mark boosting one film up to 11 nominations. From Joker to The Two Popes, and every film in-between, these films are the most represented in this year's class of contenders.
Now let's open the envelopes and run down what movies got the most Oscar nominations in 2020. And the most prolific nominees are…
Joker (11 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Film Editing, Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Best Score, Best Picture, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing & Best Adapted Screenplay
Arthur Fleck’s transformation from social misfit into the figure head of a chaotic movement is the premise behind co-writer/director Todd Phillips’ Joker. A radical reinterpretation of the DC Comics villain, Phillips is nominated for both Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as being a co-nominee for the film’s Best Picture honors as one of its producers.
But that’s only the beginning of the steamrolling Joker has given the rest of the field, as Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Arthur has landed him a Best Actor nomination at this year’s Oscars. This is Phoenix’s fourth nod overall, and the third in this particular field. Depending on who you talk to, this could be his best chance to finally take home some gold, as well as the overall movie to beat at 2020’s Academy Awards.
1917 (10 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Best Score, Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects & Best Original Screenplay
Inspired by stories his grandfather told him about the First World War, director Sam Mendes’ recent hit 1917 is a film that takes place during a real time race against time to deliver an important message. As we follow Lance Corporals Blake and Schofield (Dean-Charles Chapman & George MacKay, respectively) through the battlefield and into the trenches, perilous obstacles are presented to our protagonists, and there’s no room to cut away from the action.
That approach to 1917’s narrative is undoubtedly why, on top of Best Picture honors, the film has gotten crucial Oscar nominations as Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Visual Effects. Mendes himself is also well represented, as he shares the Best Picture nomination, and also has additional nods for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, alongside co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (10 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing & Best Original Screenplay
In the lazy, hazy days of 1969, Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) try to get a handle on life as only characters in a Quentin Tarantino film could. But rather than go for what folks consider the typical QT picture, Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood plays mostly as a mix of nostalgia and self-reflection. Of course, there’s still plenty of Tarantino-isms, and that’s part of why the man could make history with his potential third win for Best Original Screenplay this year.
Put that together with DiCaprio and Pitt being nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively, and this is another thoroughbred to watch out for at this dog and pony show. Altogether, 10 nominations have made their way into the hands of this particular film, and if it plays its cards right, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood could be a big winner, thanks to a slew of technical nominations.
The Irishman (10 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Supporting Actor (x2,) Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects & Best Adapted Screenplay
A dream project for director Martin Scorsese, The Irishman fulfills a promise the man had so often made to bring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino onto the screen in the same picture. Showcasing the life and times of mob hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro,) the Netflix original is a story of friendship, family, and guilt.
It’s also an acting powerhouse when it comes to the 2020 Academy Awards, as both Pesci and Pacino will be duking it out for Best Supporting Actor honors this year. Not to mention, Scorsese himself has a Best Director nomination that compliments his producer’s honors in the Best Picture nomination. But if there was an award this film should want to win, besides its major nominations of course, it would be that of Best Visual Effects, as it took a lot of impressive work to de-age the main cast for this generational epic.
Jojo Rabbit (6 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing & Best Production Design
Shifting gears into the next tier of competitors, director Taika Waititi’s anti-hate satire Jojo Rabbit has found itself in a pretty good niche when it comes to this year’s Oscar nominations. The story of young Jojo (Roman Griffin) and his confrontation of the Nazi ideals that took Germany by storm during World War II, this dramedy is a heartwarming laugh riot.
While Waititi himself missed out on a directing nomination in 2020’s Academy Awards race, the man does have two nominations, as a producer of the film as well as the writer of its Best Adapted Screenplay. But as far as Oscar history is concerned, Jojo Rabbit is where Scarlett Johansson sees the first two nominations ever in her career, with a nod for Best Supporting Actress headed her way.
Little Women (6 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Score, Best Picture & Best Adapted Screenplay
You may have heard about our next nominee, as writer/director Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is a silent but deadly box office powerhouse as of late. The story of the March Sisters and their relationships during the difficult years after their father’s passing, the film was snubbed when it came to Gerwig’s directorial efforts.
However, Gerwig herself does have a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay, along with other impressive nominations going to Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress and Florence Pugh for Best Supporting Actress. Rounding out the field are 2020 Oscar nominations for Best Costume Design, Best Score, and Best Picture; all of which bring Little Women’s awards profile to an exciting level of anticipation.
Marriage Story (6 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Score, Best Picture & Best Original Screenplay
Also frozen out of the director’s race is Greta Gerwig’s husband Noah Baumbach, who sees himself earning a similar backdoor into the Oscar nominations race in 2020 with his latest film, Marriage Story. Baumbach not only has a Best Original Screenplay nomination to contend for at this year’s Academy Awards, but he also has a producer’s credit that allows him to potentially win if this movie wins Best Picture.
Loosely based on his own experiences with divorce, Marriage Story also sees Adam Driver being nominated for the honors of Best Actor and Scarlett Johansson picking up a Best Actress nod herself. The pair’s incendiary chemistry, both in love and ruin, helped propel this film to prestige glory, as well as studio Netflix to an impressive 24 nominations overall - the most that any studio/distributor has seen in the Oscar nominations of 2020.
Parasite (6 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Director, Film Editing, Best International Film, Best Picture, Best Production Design & Best Original Screenplay
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho finds himself breaking into the Academy Awards this year, as his dark comedy thriller Parasite is up for 6 Oscar nominations. A story of deception, and all of the consequences that come with such a practice, this particular movie has found itself winning over critics and audiences alike. So the news that it has garnered nominations for both Best Picture and Best International Film should be no surprise.
And as for Bong Joon-ho himself, he’s personally up for a potential Best Director trophy, as well as honors for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture. Though if you were to place your bets on which big ticket category Parasite is most likely to win, you might want to place some money on the Best International Film category; if Roma’s Oscar fate last year is any indication.
Ford v Ferrari (4 Nominations)
Nominated For: Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Sound Editing & Best Sound Mixing
Rounding out the field of Academy Awards nominees for 2020 are the last handful of films that have seen 3 to 4 nominations land in their respective buckets. And in the case of Ford v Ferrari, the bulk of those honors come from technical awards, as Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing are three of the four honors it’s vying for.
The story of how American automotive legend Caroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and English race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) collaborated on the car that would help a Ford win the 1966 Le Mans event, Ford v Ferrari missed out on a lot of other potential nominations, including acting honors for both Damon and Bale. But the film did manage to crash the party in the Best Picture nominations, which means that director James Mangold could still walk away with a trophy if the night pans out the right way.
Bombshell (3 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress & Best Makeup/Hairstyling
Out of the three actors that make up the core cast for director Jay Roach’s Bombshell, two performers found themselves walking away with Oscar nominations. Those aren’t bad odds if you’re Best Actress nominee Charlize Theron or Best Supporting Actress nominee Margot Robbie.
But somehow, Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Gretchen Carlson, in a story about the misconduct of Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) and others at Fox News, was a no show when it came to nominations. With one other nod for Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Bombshell has clearly impressed the judges with its acting talents, and could be a spoiler in either race when you consider Olivia Colman's surprise Best Actress win for The Favourite last year.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (3 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Score, Best Sound Editing & Best Visual Effects
While Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker isn’t a major contender at this year’s Academy Awards, the 2020 Oscar nominations do see the film helping to set a new record. With his 52nd nomination for Best Score, composer John Willams is now the most nominated person living in Academy Awards history, with Walt Disney still holding the record at 59 nods.
As the concluding chapter of the Skywalker Saga happens to, oddly enough, be under the purview of the late Disney’s studio, it seems fitting that this great honor would accompany the almost assured nominations this film was going to garner in Best Sound Editing and Best Visual Effects.
The Two Popes (3 Nominations)
Nominated For: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor & Best Adapted Screenplay
For a movie named The Two Popes, there’s an argument to be made that this Netflix original has the most impressive track record for this year’s Academy Awards nominations. We say this because as there are only two popes in this dramatized meeting between Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce,) the fact that both have been nominated is pretty spectacular.
With Pryce in the running for Best Actor and Hopkins competing for Best Supporting Actor, The Two Popes will have its hands full when it comes to this year’s acting races. Though additional excitement is thrown in as writer and previous nominee Anthony McCarten is up for Best Adapted Screenplay honors in 2020’s Oscar nominated class.
The field competing for the 92nd Annual Academy Awards is pretty wide, based on the top contenders above. We'll see what the future holds when the ceremony takes place on February 9th, as it will be aired on ABC at 8 PM ET.