The Oklahoman's movie critics predict Oscar winners

The Oklahoman's movie critics predict Oscar winners.
by Brandy McDonnell Published: February 22, 2013

Should and will win: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Best Supporting Actor

GENE SAYS: One of the most baffling questions in this year's contest is why Philip Seymour Hoffman was stuck in the supporting category for his genius turn as “The Master.” This misplacement could hurt his chances. Alan Arkin's “Argo (bleep) yourself” Hollywood producer was hilarious, we couldn't take our eyes off Christoph Waltz as a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter in “Django Unchained,” and Tommy Lee Jones' abolitionist congressman could be a real vote-getter in “Lincoln,” but Robert De Niro gave his best performance in years as the football junkie dad in “Silver Linings Playbook,” and it's been more than 20 years since his last Oscar win. Plus, Bob is well-liked within the industry. Call him a sentimental favorite.

Should and will win: Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

GEORGE SAYS: This might be the tightest of all the major races — all are veteran performers and previous nominees working at the peak of their powers. There is even an argument to be made that Philip Seymour Hoffman's work as Lancaster Dodd in “The Master” is more of a lead performance than a supporting one, and two of the players represented here, Tommy Lee Jones and Robert De Niro, are doing their best work in many years. Real effort could make the difference here, particularly for De Niro, who spent too many years falling back on tics and shtick. While I loved Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained,” De Niro's empathetic and emotional work in “Silver Linings Playbook” was the surprise of the year.

Should win: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained.”

Will win: Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

BRANDY SAYS: Each contender in this year's supporting actor race already has at least one Oscar to his name, but two-time winner Robert De Niro will need to make room in his trophy case for his third Academy Award. While Christoph Waltz again teamed with writer/director Quentin Tarantino to create another indelible, complex and ridiculously charming character with his turn as a brutal but high-minded bounty hunter in the slavery saga “Django Unchained,” De Niro's performance as a compulsive sports-obsessed father dealing with his even more mentally unstable son (Bradley Cooper) in “Silver Linings Playbook” constitutes the beloved thesp's best work in ages.

Should win: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained.”

Will win: Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Best Supporting Actress

GENE SAYS: Daniel Day-Lewis couldn't have asked for a better match than Sally Field for his Lincoln's first lady. Her emotionally tormented Mary Todd Lincoln brought fire to her every scene. But Anne Hathaway's wrenching, live-on-camera performance of the ballad “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Miserables” — after having her hair hacked off, her teeth pulled and her body violated — is bound to make her Oscar dreams come true.

Should win: Sally Field, “Lincoln.”

Will Win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables.”

GEORGE SAYS: As the most prominent female player in “Lincoln,” a film fueled by 19th-century political testosterone, Sally Field could find out that the Academy really, really likes her again for her performance as Mary Todd Lincoln. I personally lean toward Jacki Weaver for her wonderful work as Dolores in “Silver Linings Playbook,” mainly because I want to celebrate her win with a plate of crabby snacks and homemades, whatever those might be.

Should win: Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Will win: Sally Field, “Lincoln.”

BRANDY SAYS: Every nominee in this category has either won or been nominated previously, so we're dealing with talented thespians who gave some of the best performances of their rightly respected careers. While Sally Field was considered an early front-runner for her dynamic turn as Abraham Lincoln's grief-stricken wife, Anne Hathaway essentially won this Oscar when she delivered her choked-up, soul-searing, live-to-film rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” while playing the doomed prostitute and single mother Fantine in “Les Miserables.”

Should and will win: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables.”

Best Director

GENE SAYS: Steven Spielberg brought back to vivid life the strife-torn world that surrounded the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, framing the brilliant and powerful performances of an incredible cast (Day-Lewis, Field, Jones, David Strathairn, James Spader, Tim Blake Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley, John Hawkes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in authentic atmosphere and setting. True, Affleck deserved at least a nod, and Ang Lee created a moving and technically/visually groundbreaking work of art, but Spielberg still does the old-fashioned movie magic better than anyone.

Should and will win: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln.”

GEORGE SAYS: As a critic who mostly subscribes to auteur theory, I must ask the academy voters if they think “Argo” directed itself? How about “Zero Dark Thirty”? In all likelihood, this will be a year in which the director and picture awards will go to different works, but I will never understand how the academy can spread the wealth in this fashion without experiencing a crisis of conscience. And if the academy is so concerned about torture, why did they give the nod to Michael Haneke? But what's done is done. My favorite is David O. Russell: With “The Fighter” and now “Silver Linings Playbook,” his work has achieved a level of humanity that previously eluded him. But I believe Steven Spielberg wins in a squeaker.

Should win: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Will win: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln.”

BRANDY SAYS: Honestly, what was the Academy thinking with this year's directing nominees? Sure, with nine best picture candidates and only five best director slots, someone was going to get overlooked, but “Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Django Unchained” and even “Les Miserables” just wouldn't be the fantastic films they became without the unique visions and singular talents of Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Quentin Tarantino and Tom Hooper. In the interest of spreading the glory a little, I'd love to see co-writer/helmer Benh Zeitlin pull off the upset with his beautiful breakout “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” but his nomination over those notable snubs will be his reward. Expect Steven Spielberg to win his well-deserved third best director Oscar for making politics utterly gripping with “Lincoln,” his superbly acted period piece about the 16th president's race against time to get the 13th Amendment passed and slavery abolished before the end of the Civil War.

Should and will win: Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln.”

Best Original Screenplay

GENE AND BRANDY SAY: Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

GEORGE SAYS: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, “Moonrise Kingdom.”

Best Adapted Screenplay

GENE AND GEORGE SAY: Chris Terrio, “Argo.”

BRANDY SAYS: Tony Kushner, “Lincoln.”

Best Animated Feature

GENE AND GEORGE SAY: “Wreck-It Ralph.”

BRANDY SAYS: “Brave.”

Best Documentary Feature

GENE, GEORGE AND BRANDY SAY: “Searching for Sugar Man.”

Best Foreign Language Film

GENE, GEORGE AND BRANDY SAY: “Amour.”

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
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...
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