‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ Oscar predictions: Will the force be with Episode IX at Academy Awards?

After opening last week, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is on track to become one of the highest grossing films of 2019. But will box office green lead to Oscar gold for J.J. Abrams‘ final foray into the “Star Wars” saga? According to Gold Derby’s combined predictions, Episode IX will earn a total of four Oscar nominations: Best Score, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Those are the same four categories its predecessor, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” nabbed two years ago, but one less than “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), which also received a film editing nom.

For Best Score, “Star Wars” trails “1917,” “Joker,” “Little Women” and “Marriage Story” in our racetrack odds. Even though John Williams‘ iconic themes and anthems return in Episode IX, the music branch of the academy deemed it to have enough original music to compete at the Oscars. Williams is a five-time Academy Award winner who’s been nominated a record 51 times including for five previous “Star Wars” films, winning for “A New Hope” (1977).

As Oscar pundits are keenly aware, Best Visual Effects usually goes to a Best Picture nominee, which doesn’t bode well for “Star Wars” as it’s not predicted to compete there. However, the past five visual effects winners directly contradict this pattern: “First Man” (2018), “Blade Runner 2049” (2017), “The Jungle Book” (2016), “Ex Machina” (2015) and “Interstellar” (2014). If a Best Picture nominee does end up taking home Best Visual Effects, then look for either “The Irishman” or “1917,” two such front-runners, to win the Oscar.

As for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, “1917” and “Ford v Ferrari” are the predicted leaders, with Episode IX close behind. Oftentimes the loudest or most musical films win these prizes, including last year’s champ “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Luckily for “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” it’s filled with noisy space explosions, light saber fights and ocean battles, all of which could help it take the edge over the competition.

Here’s a look at how the first eight “Star Wars” episodes did at the Oscars. It’s worth noting that while all of the films reaped at least one nomination, the last one to take home a competitive trophy was the second in the series, “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980).

“Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977)
Best Art Direction – won
Best Costumes – won
Best Visual Effects – won
Best Film Editing – won
Best Score – won
Best Sound – won
Best Picture – nominated
Best Supporting Actor Alec Guinness – nominated
Best Director George Lucas – nominated
Best Original Screenplay – nominated
Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing – won

“Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
Best Sound – won
Best Art Direction – nominated
Best Score – nominated
Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects – won

“Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” (1983)
Best Art Direction – nominated
Best Score – nominated
Best Sound Mixing – nominated
Best Sound Editing – nominated
Special Achievement Award for Visual Effects – won

“Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” (1999)
Best Visual Effects – nominated
Best Sound Mixing – nominated
Best Sound Editing – nominated

“Star Wars: Attack of the Clones” (2002)
Best Visual Effects – nominated

“Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” (2005)
Best Makeup – nominated

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015)
Best Film Editing – nominated
Best Score – nominated
Best Sound Editing – nominated
Best Sound Mixing – nominated
Best Visual Effects – nominated

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (2017)
Best Score – nominated
Best Sound Editing – nominated
Best Sound Mixing – nominated
Best Visual Effects – nominated

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Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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