When we launched our Oscars prediction center in late August, our current Best Actress frontrunner Julianne Moore did not even figure in our calculations. Sure, there was some talk of her contending for her Cannes-winning work in “Maps to the Stars,” but that oddball David Cronenberg film had not locked in a deal stateside. And her other possible vehicle, the low budget “Still Alice,” was without distribution.
That all changed after this heartbreaking story of an academic dealing with a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s screened at the Toronto filmfest in early September. Sony Pictures Classics scooped it up and suddenly this four-time Oscar also-ran was being tipped to finally win.
To compare the state of the race at various points in time, go to this page, scroll down and click any two dates (after Aug. 22) on the calendars. You will see who our Experts were predicting to prevail on each date. And be sure to click on the different categories on the left-hand side of the page to see the changes in those races as well.
Moore’s rise to the top came at the expense of another Oscars bridesmaid. Five-time contender Amy Adams sat atop our first chart with five of the first nine Oscarologists to weigh in predicting her to finally prevail for her performance as painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton‘s biopic “Big Eyes.” Since then, she has fallen to sixth place after this serio-comic film was shunned by most critics and earned only minimal recognition at the precursor prizes (Adams contends for Best Comedy/Musical Actress at the Golden Globes.)
Also gone from our top five is Jessica Chastain for “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” a three-hour long film that explores a marriage from the perspective of both spouses with James McAvoy as the husband. While a noble effort, the film falters and even splitting the story into two parts did not make it more appealing to critics or audiences.
Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’ Cry,” 1999; “Million Dollar Baby,” 2004) seemed to be a sure thing to finally reap her third bid with “The Homesman.” This Western with a message had played well in Cannes but failed to find traction on this side of the pond and she has slid to seventh.
Throughout the awards season, 2005 Best Actress champ Reese Witherspoon (“Walk the Line”) has remained in second place for her change-of-pace work in “Wild.” She produced and stars in this powerful picture as Cheryl Strayed, a woman lost after the death of her mother who hoped to find her way back by hiking the 1000-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
Also still in contention is Rosamund Pike for her chilling performance in the thriller “Gone Girl.” Back in the summer, she had enough support among our Experts to be ranked fourth. With the overwhelming commercial and critical success of the film, she has risen to third.
The other two slots are filled by women who saw their films do well in Toronto too.
Felicity Jones plays Jane, the stalwart wife of scientist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) who helps him cope with ALS. The film is as much her story as his and Jones delivers a multi-faceted performance and is currently in fourth.
The biggest surprise has been Jennifer Aniston who single-handledly drove “Cake into the conversation. As a woman who suffers from chronic pain, she turns to a support group for comfort and finds herself drawn into a mystery about the death of another member.
All five of our frontrunners reaped bids at the Golden Globes, SAG and Critics’ Choice Awards. Do you think they will all contend at the Oscars too? Make your predictions below using our easy drag-and-drop menu.