Oscar Experts declare Supporting Actor is between Mark Ruffalo (‘Foxcatcher’) & J.K. Simmons (‘Whiplash’)

The race for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar is underway and two men from recent film festival hits have taken an early lead according to our 16 Experts: Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher” and J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash.”

Users battle over Best Director Oscar:
Bennett Miller (‘
Foxcatcher’) vs. Richard Linklater (‘Boyhood’)

Six experts say Ruffalo is out front. Previously nominated in this category in 2010 for “The Kids Are All Right,” Ruffalo appears in “Foxcatcher” as Dave Schultz, a real-life Olympic freestyle wrestler who was murdered by John du Pont (Steve Carell). Earlier this year, the film played at Cannes where it won the Best Director prize for Bennett Miller.

Six are also betting on Simmons, who plays a ruthless music teacher instructing an aspiring jazz drummer (Miles Teller) in “Whiplash.” The film won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, a feat also pulled off in recent years by “Precious” and “Fruitvale Station.” Simmons has no previous Oscar nominations, but the prolific character actor could be due for his first honors from the academy.

With support from two experts is Edward Norton, who plays Michael Keaton‘s rival in recent Venice and Telluride festival favorite “Birdman.” Norton has two precious Oscar bids: one in the supporting race for “Primal Fear” (1996) and one as a lead in “American History X” (1998).

16 Oscar Experts predict Best Picture showdown:
‘Boyhood’ vs. ‘
Birdman’ vs. ‘Unbroken’

One expert predicts a win for Ethan Hawke as the mercurial father of a boy coming of age in “Boyhood.” Hawke has two previous nominations for writing (“Before Sunset” in 2004 and “Before Midnight” in 2013) and one for acting (“Training Day” in 2001).

Our last expert gives the edge to veteran Robert Duvall as the title character in “The Judge,” who is defended by his son (Robert Downey Jr.) when he becomes a suspect in a murder. Duvall’s illustrious career includes six previous Oscar bids and a Best Actor win for “Tender Mercies” (1983).

Take a look at our experts’ current racetrack odds (click the chart to see more):

Also, see who else the experts are predicting for nominations, including Albert Brooks in “A Most Violent Year” and Tom Wilkinson (“Selma“) (click the chart to see more):

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