Experts’ Oscar predictions: Leonardo DiCaprio (‘The Revenant’) poised to return to lead in Best Actor race

At the start of awards season, Leonardo DiCaprio was the frontrunner to win Best Actor according to our 23 Oscar experts drawn from major media such as Yahoo, Variety, and USA Today. He was tipped to finally win an Oscar for his performance as a frontiersman out for revenge in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's revisionist Western "The Revenant." But, as you can see from the above chart, Leo (in red) lost his lead as his rivals' pictures screened and his remained unseen. (Click on the above image to chart the ups and downs of the top 10 contenders in this race.)

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First to overtake him was Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl"), then Johnny Depp ("Black Mass") and finally Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs"). But while Fassbender wowed critics with his portayal of Apple's patron saint, Danny Boyle's crackling biopic stalled at the box office when it wide on Oct. 23. That caused some of our pundits to rethink their predictions. 

As you can see from the above comparison of what we were thinking just four days ago versus today, the race is getting much tighter. Fassbender is down to 10 votes while DiCaprio has rallied and now has eight experts in his corner. That support translates into odds of 13-to-5 for Fassbender (a 2013 supporting nominee for "12 Years a Slave") to win an Oscar with his first Best Actor bid. DiCaprio, who has lost five Oscars races (four for acting, one for producing) now has odds of 7-to-2 to finally prevail. (Click on the image above to explore these trends in-depth by selecting various dates in the two calendars.)

The 10 experts still on Team Fassbender corner are: Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Tim Gray (Variety), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Jack Mathews (Gold DerbyTom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood) and Peter Travers (Rolling Stone).

However, Thelma Adams (Gold Derby) and Michael Musto (Out) switched from Fassbender to DiCaprio. And Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), a newcomer to the pundit panel, cast her first vote for DiCaprio. These three join Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair),  Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere), Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com)  and myself in backing his bid. In this still-unscreened film, DiCaprio plays legendary frontiersman Hugh Glass who, after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by the rest of his hunting party, treks 200 miles across the Dakota Territory to exact his revenge. 

Eddie Redmayne, last year's Best Actor Oscar champ ("The Theory of Everything"), takes on another real-life role as the transgendered Lill Elbe in "The Danish Girl" from Oscar winner Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech"). He has the support of Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) and Brian Truitt (USA Today). That translates into odds of 6-to-1 to be the first back-to-back Best Actor winner since Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia," 1993; "Forrest Gump," 1994). 

Depp added the vote of Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times) to that of Tariq Khan (Fox News) for transforming into Boston crime boss turned FBI informant Whitey Bulger in Scott Cooper's true crime story. This three-time Oscar also-ran now has odds of 8-to-1 to finally prevail. 

 See the individual predictions of all 23 Oscar Experts here

While DiCaprio could soon be back in the lead, he needs to keep an eye on Matt Damon,our fifth place contender, for his portryal of an astronaut marooned on Mars who must make his own way home in Ridley Scott's blockbuster sci-fi epic "The Martian." As you can see by tracing the purple line on the chart at the top of this item, Damon's prospects have risen over the past few weeks as his film continues to do boffo business.

While Damon, a two-time also-ran at the Oscars for acting, has yet to pick up any first-place votes from our experts, he is now ranked high enough on our ballots to be guaranteed a nomination. He bumped two-time Supporting Actor champ Michael Caine ("Hannah and Her Sisters," 1986; "The Cider House Rules," 1999) from the top five. Caine, who plays a retired conductor considering one last performance in Italian auteur Paolo Sorrentino's intimate film "Youth," is angling to become the first performer to be nominated in six consecutive decades. 

See odds and rankings by Oscar Experts in 9 top categories

Make your Oscar predictions beginning with Best Actor at the bottom of this post and you could earn a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year's Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year's Oscar nominations).

Last year, our Top 24 Users led the way with an accuracy rate of 76.67% when it came to predicting the Oscar nominations. Next up were Gold Derby's Editors with 74.44%, followed by the Experts with 71.11% and all Users with 68.09%. (Click on any of these groups to see what they got right and wrong last year.)

Which group will be victorious this year? Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Oscar nominations last year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar.

As some of our Users turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, it's important that you give us your predictions. Your picks influence our Users racetrack odds, which also factor into our official combined odds.

6 thoughts on “Experts’ Oscar predictions: Leonardo DiCaprio (‘The Revenant’) poised to return to lead in Best Actor race

  1. How can any “expert” vote on movies that have not screened? If they were truly experts and not fanboys they would notice the deafening lack of buzz from the studios by now. That is never a good sign. I wonder if it is even going to be screened for critics. The only reason it has not been punted to the wastelands of January is because nobody has the balls to tell spoiled little Leo that he has been on the right place too many times and that he isn’t as talented as his hobbit bested tell him. They are only saying those things because they like his boat collection, that is all.

  2. Are the Oscars about which actor performance best at the Box Office? Is in it about which actor give the better performance on screen? People tend to think that Leo DiCaprio should have won an Oscar already because his performances have been consistent but every time he was nominated there was a better performance which deservedly won(Jamie Foxx in “Ray”, Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” and Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” . Leo’s best performance was perhaps in “What’s Eating Up Gilbert Grape”, a much better performance than the actual winner Tommy Lee Jones for “the Fugitive”, however Ralf Fiennes in “Schindler’s List” was easily the best performance that year. To give the Oscar to Leo because “Steve Jobs” didn’t do well at the Box Office is just absurd. The best performance deserves to win and we all know Michael Fassbender is unbeatable. I more confident of the best actor Oscar than on any of the other major categories like Best Picture, Director Actress and supporting actress. I am confident but not as certain that Idris Elba will win best Supporting actor. Fassbender are the two stand performances in the acting categories. The only reason they might lose will be down to Box Office or sympathy for Michael Keaton. The critical reviews have already said as much. I am confident
    Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba will get their deserved Oscar gongs. Screenplay for “Steve Job” too.

  3. We all know Leo can act, but what I have always is that even in his best performances, except maybe What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, is that he doesn’t quite disappear into his roles. Have you seen Michael Fassbender in “Hunger”, “Shame” and “12 Years A Slave”? He is the top performing actor going in the business at the moment and this is now his time. Sorry, Leo but a powerhouse performance like Fassbenders’s in “Steve Jobs” cannot be ignored no matter how much you’re liked. You will have to wait, am afraid. Oh, and Idris Elba will win Best supporting actor too. Sorry, Keaton.

  4. So, the box office (and not the quality of the movies and performances) has crucial role what/who will get the Oscars ? Geez, why Academy don’t reward “Fifty Shades of Gray” with Best Picture then ? ‘Beep’ Hollywood and industry !

  5. I want to add that the Best Picture and Direction are rarely ever separated, unless there is a showy direction that must be rewarded. Therefore, I believe the Best Picture favourite remains the favourite for Direction too, unless there is a showy direction that absolutely has to be rewarded. This year is not like the time when “Traffic”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Gladiator were competing for Best Picture and Direction Or even “12 Years A Slave V Gravity”. That is why I believe this year the favourite for Best Picture will win Best Direction too. Spotlight seems to be favourite for Best Picture, so that means Tom McCarthy is the favourite for Best Direction.

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