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The Oklahoman's Brandy McDonnell shares her Academy Awards forecast

After two months of preliminaries marked by plenty of drama but not much actual suspense, the cinematic awards season closes Sunday night with the 92nd annual Academy Awards.

Through the gauntlet of Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, BAFTAs and more, the winners in several categories have become practically set in granite. Writer-director Sam Mendes' technically innovative and emotionally charged World War I tale "1917" is the clear-cut favorite in the nine-film best picture competition, although Bong Joon-ho's timely thriller "Parasite" and Taika Waititi's World War II satire "Jojo Rabbit" might qualify as pale dark horses.

The promise of more uproarious one-liners from Shawnee-born movie star Brad Pitt is supplying virtually the only anticipation going into Sunday's Oscars broadcast. In an almost impressive twist, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has scripted a ceremony that is both boring and controversial — and the two outcomes are not unrelated.

In the four acting categories, only one performer of color is nominated: Cynthia Erivo for her portray of former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman in “Harriet." Tulsa native Alfre Woodard for "Clemency," Jennifer Lopez for “Hustlers,” Eddie Murphy for “Dolemite Is My Name,” previous Oscar victor Lupita Nyong’o for “Us” and Golden Globe winner Awkwafina for “The Farewell" were all left off the final ballots. Not only is the dearth of diversity not a good look for the Academy, but all the snubs also have left the acting contests devoid of intrigue.

Likewise, the Academy selected an all-male slate in the best director category. Had she been nominated for her fresh take on "Little Women," Greta Gerwig would have been the first woman in history to be nominated for best director twice — she became just the fifth woman nominated for best director in 2018 for "Lady Bird" — and a nod in the all-important category might have set up a battle of the Oscar-bait between her "Little Women" and Mendes' war epic.

Alas, there's not much left to do except wait for the Oscars to come to their inevitable conclusions so that Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro can finally get to Oklahoma to starting filming their next potential award winner, "Killers of the Flower Moon."

Going host-free for the second straight year, the Academy Awards will air at 7 p.m. Sunday on ABC. Here are my predictions:

BEST PICTURE

Nominees: “Ford v Ferrari," “The Irishman," “Jojo Rabbit," “Joker," “Little Women," “Marriage Story," “1917," "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," “Parasite.”

Will win: "1917."

Should win: "Jojo Rabbit."

Brilliantly devised, written and lensed to look as if it was shot in one long, unbroken take, "1917's" incredible technical feat is matched with intimate, immersive storytelling. Given the Academy's love for war epics and period films, it's hard to imagine "1917" won't take home the top prize.

BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees: Martin Scorsese, "The Irishman"; Quentin Tarantino, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"; Bong Joon-ho, "Parasite"; Sam Mendes, "1917"; Todd Phillips, "Joker."

Will win: Mendes.

Should win: Bong.

Bong's South Korean comedic crime-drama boasts a singular cinematic vision that taps into the zeitgeist while hair-pinning through breakneck plot turns. But the technical wizardry of Mendes' WWI drama, coupled with his personal connection to the material — the film is loosely based on his grandfather's experiences in the Great War — make the Brit the one to beat.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees: Tom Hanks, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood"; Anthony Hopkins, "The Two Popes"; Al Pacino, "The Irishman"; Joe Pesci, "The Irishman"; Brad Pitt, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

Will and should win: Pitt.

Pitt already is an Academy Award winner, but not as a performer: He shared in the best picture honor in 2014 as one of the producers of "12 Years a Slave." This is his fourth acting nod, and it seems fitting that he should win for a role that so effectively showcases his cool charisma, as the stuntman pal and sidekick of a fading actor (DiCaprio) in Tarantino's revisionist ode to Hollywood's golden age.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees: Kathy Bates, "Richard Jewell"; Laura Dern, "Marriage Story"; Scarlett Johansson, "Jojo Rabbit"; Florence Pugh, "Little Women"; Margot Robbie, "Bombshell."

Will and should win: Dern.

Dern is just the right balance of sympathetic and sharkish playing a high-powered Los Angeles divorce attorney in Noah Baumbach's family drama.

BEST ACTOR

Nominees: Antonio Banderas, "Pain and Glory"; Leonardo DiCaprio, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"; Adam Driver, "Marriage Story"; Joaquin Phoenix, "Joker"; Jonathan Pryce, "The Two Popes."

Will win: Phoenix.

Should win: Banderas.

Both Phoenix and Banderas carried their wildly divergent films, but Phoenix is a four-time Oscar nominee whose painfully skinny and haggard turn as Joker supplied the kind of physical transformation that Academy voters love to honor. Plus, Phoenix managed to transmogrify an 80-year-old DC Comics villain that has already earned an Oscar for another actor (the late Heath Ledger for 2008's "The Dark Knight") into yet another relevant and memorable character.

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees: Cynthia Erivo, "Harriet"; Scarlett Johansson, "Marriage Story"; Saoirse Ronan, "Little Women"; Renée Zellweger, "Judy"; Charlize Theron, "Bombshell."

Will and should win: Zellweger.

My favorite performances in this category — Nyong’o in “Us," Awkwafina in “The Farewell" and Woodard in "Clemency" — were all among the omissions that are making these Oscars so white. But it's hard to imagine that the Academy won't reward Zellweger's empathetic and engrossing portrayal of Judy Garland in the final days of her life, especially since she beautifully did her own singing.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Nominees: "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World," "I Lost My Body," "Klaus," "Missing Link," "Toy Story 4."

Will and should win: "Toy Story 4."

After the perfect, full-circle ending of 2010's “Toy Story 3," I was skeptical when Disney/Pixar announced plans to add another installment to the groundbreaking franchise. But the brilliant minds at the trailblazing animation studio managed to accomplishing the seemingly impossible with yet another entertaining and emotionally resonant adventure for Woody, Buzz and their playtime pals.

Related Photos
<strong>Oscar statues stand off of Hollywood Boulevard on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. [Chris Pizzello/AP]</strong>

Oscar statues stand off of Hollywood Boulevard on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. [Chris Pizzello/AP]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f42e6acf0347e7d09fa27443e7fe11c0.jpg" alt="Photo - Oscar statues stand off of Hollywood Boulevard on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. [Chris Pizzello/AP] " title=" Oscar statues stand off of Hollywood Boulevard on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. [Chris Pizzello/AP] "><figcaption> Oscar statues stand off of Hollywood Boulevard on Wednesday in preparation for Sunday's 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. [Chris Pizzello/AP] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-dcb30fee3ae4f7c46d96c7e5b386e7fa.jpg" alt="Photo - George MacKay, center, stars in "1917." [Universal Pictures] " title=" George MacKay, center, stars in "1917." [Universal Pictures] "><figcaption> George MacKay, center, stars in "1917." [Universal Pictures] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3565c14ea26ec3e3024ad6af8a959b56.jpg" alt="Photo - Brad Pitt stars in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." [Columbia Pictures] " title=" Brad Pitt stars in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." [Columbia Pictures] "><figcaption> Brad Pitt stars in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." [Columbia Pictures] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c9ec15f20124b0dac6c7d60dfc0bf410.jpg" alt="Photo - From left, Jordan Peele is the voice of Bunny, Tim Allen of Buzz Lightyear, Tom Hanks as Woody and Annie Potts as Bo Peep in "Toy Story 4." [Disney/Pixar] " title=" From left, Jordan Peele is the voice of Bunny, Tim Allen of Buzz Lightyear, Tom Hanks as Woody and Annie Potts as Bo Peep in "Toy Story 4." [Disney/Pixar] "><figcaption> From left, Jordan Peele is the voice of Bunny, Tim Allen of Buzz Lightyear, Tom Hanks as Woody and Annie Potts as Bo Peep in "Toy Story 4." [Disney/Pixar] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2fc7dda9a4d2e9636490d9613df7ff2a.jpg" alt="Photo - Cynthia Erivo stars in "Harriet." [Focus Features] " title=" Cynthia Erivo stars in "Harriet." [Focus Features] "><figcaption> Cynthia Erivo stars in "Harriet." [Focus Features] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ca5fc4376611fc2a2cc65fadfa342819.jpg" alt="Photo - From left, Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro star in "The Irishman." [Netflix] " title=" From left, Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro star in "The Irishman." [Netflix] "><figcaption> From left, Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro star in "The Irishman." [Netflix] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-eca561cba465d379b3c20c54de940997.jpg" alt="Photo - Taika Waititi, left, and Roman Griffin Davis star in the World War II satire "Jojo Rabbit." [Fox Searchlight Pictures] " title=" Taika Waititi, left, and Roman Griffin Davis star in the World War II satire "Jojo Rabbit." [Fox Searchlight Pictures] "><figcaption> Taika Waititi, left, and Roman Griffin Davis star in the World War II satire "Jojo Rabbit." [Fox Searchlight Pictures] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-56802bb2956e59f1fde64fd7b038bb0f.jpg" alt="Photo - Joaquin Phoenix stars in "Joker." [Warner Bros.] " title=" Joaquin Phoenix stars in "Joker." [Warner Bros.] "><figcaption> Joaquin Phoenix stars in "Joker." [Warner Bros.] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-9bac97574ce5ec09693f3d5d45a9e5e5.jpg" alt="Photo - Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet star in "Little Women." [Columbia Pictures] " title=" Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet star in "Little Women." [Columbia Pictures] "><figcaption> Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet star in "Little Women." [Columbia Pictures] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3ecd0c1993b37a035001fffd02f09996.jpg" alt="Photo - From left, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen star in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women." [Columbia Pictures] " title=" From left, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen star in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women." [Columbia Pictures] "><figcaption> From left, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen star in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women." [Columbia Pictures] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-d11ffdec78f80bf8f1b25fcd5f872704.jpg" alt="Photo - Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver star in "Marriage Story." [Netflix] " title=" Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver star in "Marriage Story." [Netflix] "><figcaption> Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver star in "Marriage Story." [Netflix] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a8365d319ba1b043c9a7223b05f9fa41.jpg" alt="Photo - Brad Pitt, left, stars with Leonardo DiCaprio in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." [Columbia Pictures] " title=" Brad Pitt, left, stars with Leonardo DiCaprio in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." [Columbia Pictures] "><figcaption> Brad Pitt, left, stars with Leonardo DiCaprio in "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." [Columbia Pictures] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c0f54a52d8d275b9ef205b779dab3ea4.jpg" alt="Photo - Cho Yeo Jeong stars in "Parasite." [Neon] " title=" Cho Yeo Jeong stars in "Parasite." [Neon] "><figcaption> Cho Yeo Jeong stars in "Parasite." [Neon] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-f0843a143664f0054697530a1724cd36.jpg" alt="Photo - Lee Sun Kyun , left, and Cho Yeo Jeong star in "Parasite." [Neon] " title=" Lee Sun Kyun , left, and Cho Yeo Jeong star in "Parasite." [Neon] "><figcaption> Lee Sun Kyun , left, and Cho Yeo Jeong star in "Parasite." [Neon] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-2fe6241a0c08aa5a74d971fdf1da32bb.jpg" alt="Photo - Renée Zellweger plays Judy Garland in "Judy." [Roadside Attractions photo] " title=" Renée Zellweger plays Judy Garland in "Judy." [Roadside Attractions photo] "><figcaption> Renée Zellweger plays Judy Garland in "Judy." [Roadside Attractions photo] </figcaption></figure>
Brandy McDonnell

Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1... Read more ›

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