Adam Sandler for Best Actor and 4 more surprising new 2020 Oscars narratives

Adam Sandler.
(Image credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

And they're off.

The race to the 2020 Academy Awards is in full swing after the season's first wave of festivals: the Telluride Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival. Some movies already expected to be contenders have maintained that momentum, including Marriage Story and Ford v Ferrari, but a few unexpected players are also jumping into (and out of) the mix.

Let's take a look at some of the surprising early Oscars narratives that could make for one weird awards season.

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1. Joker for Best Picture - DC's stand-alone Joker movie can't be ignored after earning rave reviews out of Venice and TIFF. It won Venice's top prize, the Golden Lion, which previously went to Best Picture winner The Shape of Water and nominee Roma. A Best Picture victory still seems highly unlikely, but a nomination may not be; Joaquin Phoenix could also score a Best Actor nod.

2. The Two Popes for Best Picture - Netflix's Pope Francis and Pope Benedict movie, which The Ringer's Sean Fennessey describes as essentially a "buddy comedy," was received warmly at Telluride and TIFF, with Deadline reporting it's unexpectedly generating the "kind of talk that translates into a Best Picture winner."

3. Jennifer Lopez for Best Actress - Oscar gold for Jenny from the block is no long shot after her Hustlers performance wowed TIFF audiences, with The Hollywood Reporter writing Lopez is "poised" to land a nomination, though possibly in the supporting category.

4. Adam Sandler for Best Actor - Festival audiences have also praised Sandler's Uncut Gems performance, with The Daily Beast concluding he could win for it. "Adam Sandler's got Oscar buzz," Vanity Fair's Katey Rich reports in amazement on Little Gold Men. "What a world."

5. The Goldfinch for ... nothing - The Goldfinch despite seeming like an Oscars contender got a brutal response at TIFF, currently holding a dismal 30 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Award season giveth, award season taketh away.

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