Oscar Best Actor race: Johnny Depp jumps ahead of Leonardo DiCaprio, Eddie Redmayne

Johnny Depp ("Black Mass") just picked up the support of another of our 17 Oscar Experts and with five votes, he now leads the Best Actor race over last year's champ Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl") with four, and one-time frontrunner Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Revenant") who is down to three. Follow the blue line on the chart above to see the steady rise of Depp, a three-time Best Actor also-ran, who has leading odds of 4/1 to finally prevail. Redmayne and DiCaprio are tied at 9/2 because of where those of us not predicting them to win are ranking them relative to each other. 

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Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) switched from DiCaprio to Depp after seeing "Black Mass" at Telluride. (See how the rest of us are voting below and our predictions in all the top races HERE). Scott Cooper's biopic of Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger turned FBI informant had its world premiere in Venice last Friday and unspools this coming Monday in Toronto as it fell afoul of that festival's policy precluding a showy premiere in the first four days because it was at Telluride. 

Oscar winner Tom Hooper's "The Danish Girl," in which Redmayne portrays the transgender Lill Elbe, premiered in Venice last Saturday and will screen in Toronto this Saturday. None of us Oscarologists have seen Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "The Revenant" yet, in which DiCaprio portrays a fur trapper mauled by a bear and left for dead by the rest of his hunting party who then treks 200 miles to exact his revenge. 

In fourth place is Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs") for his portrayal of the mercurial computer whiz. The film by Oscar champ Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire") was deemed a stand-out when it debuted at Telluride.  Rounding out the top five is two-time Supporting Actor champ Michael Caine ("Hannah and Her Sisters," 1986; "The Cider House Rules," 1999) for his portrayal of a retired conductor considering one last performance in Paolo Sorrentino's "Youth." Each has the votes of two Experts but Fassbender is ranked higher by the rest of us giving him an edge in the odds of 11/2 versus 12/1. 

"Steve Jobs" is skipping Toronto, rather than being shunted to the second week but will be the Centerpiece of the New York Film Festival on Oct. 3. "Youth" had its world premiere at Cannes and will be showcased at Toronto as a Special Presentation on Saturday. 

DiCaprio is 0 for five at the Oscars. He first lost Best Supporting Actor in 1994 for "What's Eating Gilbert Grape," which starred Depp, to Tommy Lee Jones ("The Fugitive"). Since then, he has been bested in three Best Actor races: for "The Aviator" (2004) to Jamie Foxx ("Ray"); for "Blood Diamond" (2006) to Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland"); and for "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013) to Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club"). He also contended as a producer of the latter which lost Best Picture to "12 Years a Slave." 

Depp did not earn his first Oscar nomination until 2003 for the smash hit "Pirates of the Caribbean"; he lost to Sean Penn ("Mystic River"). He was in that 2004 race alongside DiCaprio for his performance in "Finding Neverland." He last contended in 2007 for "Sweeney Todd," losing to Daniel Day-Lewis ("There Will Be Blood"). 

Dish all the Oscar races in our red-hot forums with Hollywood insiders

See a breakdown of Oscar odds here. See how each Expert ranks contenders in nine top races. Here's how the Best Actor predictions break down according to our 17 pundits (click on the graphic below to see everyone's complete predictions):

5 Experts predict Depp
Tim Gray (Variety)
Kevin Polowy (Yahoo)
Jenelle Riley (Variety)
Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby)
Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily)

4 Experts predict Redmayne
Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post)
Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby)
Keith Simanton (IMDB)
Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)

3 Experts predict DiCaprio
Tariq Khan (Fox News)
Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere)
Susan Wloszczyna (RogetEbert.com)

2 Experts predict Fassbender
Edward Douglas (ComingSoon)
Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood)

2 Experts predict Caine
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby)
Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood)

1 Expert predicts Tom Hanks
Jack Mathews (Gold Derby)

See complete list of Oscar odds and rankings here.

Related Poll: Who should host Golden Globes this year?

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