Will Oscar play it safe in doling out top honors?

Will the top Oscar go the boring, “safe” and, most dubious of all, British choice “1917”? Of course, it will, even if “1917” is at best a Blimey “Saving Private Ryan” repeat with a gimmicky POV angle and no acting nominations whatsoever. Like “Dunkirk,” “1917” is proof that if you put young male Brits into uniforms and helmets you can’t tell them apart.

“Joker” is a more daring, more psychologically sophisticated and relevant film with a lead performance for the ages. Ditto for “Little Women, a fresh take on an American classic that could not be more timely or better acted by an remarkably distinctive ensemble cast. Talk about ensembles, “The Irishman” has more gravitas than all of the above with valedictorian turns by Zen masters of the screen acting art. With “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, American maverick-auteur Quentin Tarantino enters another one of his own private Twilight Zones, in this case Charles Manson-era La La Land circa 1969, and the result has more Hollywood house of mirrors razzle-dazzle than any of the other nominees. All the film lacks is Rod Serling. “1917,” really? It’s going to be boring “1917” for best picture. Yes, chaps, sorry.

Renee Zellweger arrives at the 92nd Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at the Loews Hotel on Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The 92th Annual Academy Awards promise to be a torture rack of deja vu, a frozen wilderness of we-saw-them-coming. Joaquin Phoenix of “Joker” is going to win best actor and give a coached wokester-ready thank you speech to dissipate those rumors that he is a difficult, self-absorbed diva on set. Renee Zellweger is going to win for playing Judy Garland in “Judy.

In the past years we’ve had the wrong picture named for best picture and ceremonies stuffed with so many production numbers they seemed more like the Tonys than the Oscars. After the debacle of the Kevin Hart hosting controversy, we’re going with no Twitter-vulnerable host for the second year in a row, which is too bad because you know they wanted to give it to Cardi B just to get a ratings bump to try to staunch the TV ratings decline.

Sam Mendes poses in the press room with the awards for best director, motion picture and best motion picture drama for “1917” at the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Laura Dern is winning supporting actress, of course, for her scene-stealing work as a divorce lawyer because this is Hollywood, and everyone’s best friend is a divorce lawyer. Forget the whole J. Lo snub thing. Yes, her pole dancing was Olympic level. But “Hustlers” was not even a good movie. Brad Pitt’s name was read out loud at all the Oscar precursors. He just got back from BAFTA. We won’t ruin it for him now. Martin Scorsese, whose only director win has been for “The Departed” not for “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” “Goodfellas” (he lost to Kevin Costner for crying out loud) or “Casino,” should win for director for “The Irishman.” So should Bong Joon Ho for “Parasite. I’d also settle for Quentin Tarantino. But the winner is going to be Sam Mendes, who previously won 20 years ago for “American Beauty,” a film I have not felt inclined to see again since. Keep in mind that among the 1999 films that were not even nominated are “Magnolia,” “Eyes Wide Shut,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “The Straight Story” and “Any Given Sunday.”

Director Greta Gerwig poses for photographers upon arrival at the BAFTA Film Awards, in central London, Sunday, Feb. 2 2020. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

The screenplay categories are where the consolation prizes are handed out so this is where Bong wins original screenplay for “Parasite,” the most wickedly entertaining and then suddenly pitch black parable for these diabolically unequal times. For adapted screenplay, Taika Waititi is a favorite for his Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit. He’s already won the WGA and BAFTA awards. But I’m going to bet that this category is where Academy members are going to try to make up for their sins and give it to Greta Gerwig for “Little Women.” We’ll see.

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