Oscars experts: Jennifer Aniston (‘Cake’) looking like lock for Best Actress nomination

Julianne Moore (“Still Alice“) still enjoys a commanding lead in the Best Actress race for her portrayal of an academic suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s. However, Jennifer Aniston is coming on strong for her dramatic turn in “Cake” as a grieving mother coming to terms with the death of her son in a car crash that has left her both emotionally and physically scarred. Both women reaped bids for three key precursor prizes — the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards — and both have been working the circuit touting their indie films. 

They have faced off once before, back in 2002 at the Independent Spirit Awards. Moore won for her leading role in the period picture “Far From Heaven” over, among others, Aniston for her low-key work in the comedy-drama “The Good Girl.” Moore then contended at the Oscars but lost to Nicole Kidman, her co-star from “The Hours.” She was also up for the supporting award that night for “The Hours” but was bested by Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago”). She also lost her two other Oscar bids: for her 1997 supporting turn in “Boogie Nights” to Kim Basinger (“L.A. Confidential”) and her 1999  starring role in “The End of the Affair” to Hilary Swank (“Boys Don’t Cry”). 

Moore, with the the support of 22 of our 25 Oscarologists, has odds of 13 to 8 to finally win an Oscar.  Her closest rival remains Reese Witherspoon (“Wild“) who has the votes of three of our Experts for her change-of-pace role as a woman in a downward spiral who embarks on a 1000-mile hike in hopes of a fresh start. This one-time Oscar champ (“Walk the Line,” 2005) now has odds of 7/2 to pick up a bookend.  

Witherspoon also contends for those three early awards as do the other two actresses in the top five — Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl“) and Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything“) — who are now at 13/2 and 15/2 respectively.

In the Best Picture race, “Boyhood” (odds of 7/2) remains far out front with the support of 18 of our 25 pundits (up by one vote).  “Birdman” — which led SAG, Globe and Critics’ Choice nominations — has three boosters and odds of 6/1. “Selma” also has the backing of three Oscarologists and odds of 13/2 (it is ranked lower than “Birdman” by more pundits overall, hence the lower odds). And “The Imitation Game” has one vote and odds of 8/1. 

Click here to see charts revealing how all of our Experts rank the contenders in all top categories according to likelihood of winning. And click on each underlined category below to see the individual Experts predictions for that race. Then make your own predictions here. Be the best and win bragging rights AND $1,000. 

See latest Oscar rankings when the Experts’ predictions are combined

Our 25 Experts are predicting “Boyhood” to win five Academy Awards in all: Best Picture, Best Director (Richard Linklater), Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette), Original Screenplay and Editing. 

Interstellar” is expected to take home three Oscars: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. 

Birdman” will claim two Academy Awards — Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Cinematography.

Still Alice” is predicted to win Best Actress for Julianne Moore while Whiplash” should net an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons, and “The Imitation Game” is forecast to claim Adapted Screenplay.

Foxcatcher” is first for Makeup & Hairstyle, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” leads for Production Design, ‘Gone Girl” is ahead for Score and “Into the Woods” is predicted to take Costume Design.

Click here to see how our Experts rank contenders in top Oscar races. Click here to see the rankings and odds generated by combining their predictions.

Below: The Experts’ latest collective rankings and odds for the top six categories (click on each category to see more detailed results). 

Best Picture
1.  “Boyhood” – 7/2
2.  “Birdman” – 6/1
3.  “Selma” – 13/2
4.  “The Imitation Game” – 15/2
5.  “The Theory of Everything” – 8/1
6.  “Whiplash” – 16/1
7.  “The Grand Budapest Hotel”  – 16/1
8.  “Gone Girl” – 20/1
9.  “Unbroken” – 20/1
10. “Foxcatcher” – 20/1

Change from last week: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Unbroken” have switched places and odds.   

Best Director
1. Richard Linklater, “Boyhood” – 9/5
2. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman” – 3/1
3. Ava DuVernay, “Selma”– 11/2
4. David Fincher, “Gone Girl” – 16/1
5. Morten Tyldum, “The  Imitation Game” – 20/1

Change from last week: None; the standings and odds remain the same. 

Best Actor
1. Michael Keaton, “Birdman” – 9/4
2. Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything” – 12/5
3. Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game” – 6/1
4. David Oyelowo, “Selma” – 6/1
5. Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher” – 14/1

Change from last week: The standings remain the same but Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”) has seen his odds lengthen again. 

Best Actress
1. Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” – 13/8
2. Reese Witherspoon, “Wild” – 10/3
3. Rosamund PIke, “Gone Girl” – 13/2
4. Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything” – 15/2
5. Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”  – 9/1

Change from last week: Jennifer Aniston (“Cake”) has bettered her odds again. 

Best Supporting Actor
1. J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash” – 8/5
2. Edward Norton, “Birdman” – 10/3
3. Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood” – 11/2
4. Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher” – 6/1
5.Robert Duvall, “The Judge” – 20/1

Change from last week: Robert Duvall (“The Judge”) has improved his odds. 

Best Supporting Actress
1. Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood” – 13/8
2. Emma Stone, “Birdman” – 5/1
3. Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods” – 11/2
4. Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game” – 15/2
5. Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year” – 10/1 

Change from last week: Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”) has improved her odds. 

What are your Oscar predictions? Make your picks now — click here — or scroll down to predict the Best Actress champ using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Best predictions will win $1,000 prize. And the 24 Users with the best scores advance to a team to compete against our Experts and Editors next year. See who’s in our current Top 24 and their early Oscar predictions. Meet the guy who won our contest to predict Oscar nominations last year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar. Register/log in to your account so you can also compete to predict the Golden Globes, Grammys, “The Walking Dead,” “AHS: Freak Show” and more.

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