After three previous losses in the Oscars' Best Picture race ("Silver Linings Playbook," "American Hustle," "The Fighter"), director David O. Russell is now out front to win for "Joy," according to the collective predictions of 14 experts at Gold Derby. See each expert's individual rankings here.
"Joy" has a narrow lead (7 to 1 odds) over "The Revenant" by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (15/2), who prevailed six months ago with victories for Best Picture and Director for "Birdman." However, Inarritu has a slight edge (9/2) over Russell (5/1) to repeat as Best Director and "The Revenant" star, still-Oscarless Leonardo DiCaprio, leads the Best Actor battle (10/3). DiCaprio has a slight edge over recent champ Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl" (4/1).
Here's how the Best Picture predictions break down according to pundit:
"Bridge of Spies": Gold Derby contributors Thelma Adams and Jack Mathews plus Susan Wloszczyna (RogetEbert.com)
"Inside Out": Keith Simanton (IMDB)
"The Hateful Eight": Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby)
"45 Years": Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood), who restricts her predictions just to the films she's seen so far this year. All other pundits gamble on all films in the hunt.
"The Revenant" tells the story of real-life fur trapper Hugh Glass, who is mauled by a bear and then robbed and left for dead by his companions. He survives and sets out to exact revenge on the men who betrayed him. If it wins Best Picture, it would be the first Western to do so since "Unforgiven" in 1992.
Leonardo DiCaprio has suffered five Oscar losses (four as an actor, one as a producer). And his on-screen nemesis, Tom Hardy, sits atop our Best Supporting Actor chart. Hardy could also contend in lead for his dual role as the villainous Kray twins in "Legend."
"Carol" is a lesbian romance set during the 1950s and was critically hailed earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival. Blanchett won her first Oscar in the supporting category for playing opposite DiCaprio in "The Aviator" (2004) and her second victory was in the lead race two years ago for "Blue Jasmine." If she triumphs for a third time, she'll be tied with Ingrid Bergman, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep and Walter Brennan. While no official category declaration has been made for Blanchett's co-star Rooney Mara, she is leading our odds for Best Supporting Actress (17/10). She won Best Actress at Cannes, which does not have a separate award for featured performances.
Vying against Blanchett in the Best Actress race is veteran Lily Tomlin as the title character in "Grandma"; Tomlin hasn't been nominated since her supporting turn in "Nashville" in 1975. Carey Mulligan, previously nominated for Best Actress for "An Education" (2009), could return as a women's suffrage activist in "Suffragette." And we mustn't underestimate Julianne Moore, who finally won Oscar last year for "Still Alice" and has another high-profile role this year in "Freeheld" as a lebian police officer fighting for her and her partner's pension rights.
Chasing DiCaprio in the Best Actor contest is the returning champion, Eddie Redmayne. He won last year for his dramatic physical transformation into physicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything," and now he undertakes another bold transformation, portraying a transgender woman in "The Danish Girl." Michael Caine hopes to overtake them both; the esteemed veteran has two Oscars in the supporting race ("Hannah and Her Sisters," "The Cider House Rules"), but is looking for his first prize as a leading man.
They could face strong challenges from two past nominees in biographical roles: former "12 Years a Slave" baddie Michael Fassbender as the title character in "Steve Jobs," and three-time nominee Johnny Depp as gangster Whitey Bulger in the thriller "Black Mass."
"Joy" – 7/1
"The Revenant" – 15/2
"Carol" – 9/1
"Steve Jobs" – 10/1
"The Danish Girl" – 12/1
"Bridge of Spies" -12/1
"The Hateful Eight" – 12/1
"Inside Out" – 16/1
"Black Mass" – 16/1
"Suffragette" – 25/1
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Photo: Post of "Joy" starring Jennifer Lawrence. Credit: Twentieth Century Fox
Photo: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu at the Oscars, 2015. Credit: David Fisher/REX
Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio at the Oscars, 2014. Credit: Jim Smeal/BEI/REX