Oscar experts: Buzz propels ‘Spotlight’ into Best Picture lead

Why does "Spotlight" have such a huge lead in the Oscar race for Best Picture based upon the predictions of experts from Yahoo, Variety, Rollling Stone, IMDB and other top media? Currently, 8 out of 19 Oscarologists making predictions at Gold Derby bet on Thomas McCarthy's expose of the Catholic priests' sex scandal in Boston, giving it 6-to-1 odds.

"'Spotlight' has the buzz," says Variety pundit Tim Gray. "It's a well-made, tight film, and so far, it has a wide cross-section of admirers."

"There are a lot of good movies with great acting performances in the contenders field, but 'Spotlight' is quite simply a great movie all around," adds Brian Truitt (USA Today). "It has solid buzz coming out of the festival circuit, and there'll be more once folks start seeing it in November."

And for Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere), "'Spotlight' is clean and direct and the best kind of traditional journalism drama, but it also has a strong moralistic undercurrent — it's a movie about compassion and caring, really, although none of the Boston Globe journalists once says 'we have to be the good guys here and do the right thing.'  They just do it.  This movie is going to click with everyone, and I mean everyone."

In addition to Gray,Truitt and Wells, other pundits picking it to prevail: Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily) and Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby).  See the individual predictions of all 19 Oscar Experts here.

Below: Rankings for the other top Best Picture contenders with odds to win and commentary from our experts. 

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

#2. "Steve Jobs" (2 Experts; Odds to win: 8/1)
Danny Boyle's biopic with Michael Fassbender as the mercurial computer whiz.

Edward Douglas (ComingSoon): "It’s simply one of the best movies I’ve seen this year and I realized that within the first five minutes. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is as good as the one for 'The Social Network' and I fully expect him to win a second Oscar for it and Danny Boyle and his cast does a fantastic job with the material which is more like a good Broadway play (or even 'Birdman'!) than it is a flashy big scale movie that we often expect to win Best Picture."

Other Expert: Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood)
 

#3. "The Revenant" (2 Experts; Odds to win: 17/2)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Western with five-time Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio as frontiersman Hugh Glass who seeks revenge on his hunting party that left him for dead after a bear attack. 

Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair):  “I haven’t seen a frame but, as I said in V.F.’s new Panoply podcast Little Gold Men (plug, plug!), I know the 'Revenant' team wants a Best Picture win and I hear they’re hiring the Oscar consultants to get them there. Sometimes that works!”

Other Expert: Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com)
 

#4. "Joy" (2 Experts; Odds to win: 17/2)
David O. Russell's biopic with Oscar champ Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook") as Long Island housewife turned entrepreneur Joy Mangano.

Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby): "Oscar voters often choose their Best Pictures based upon who directs them – and who is overdue. That factor really helped Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu to win last year for 'Birdman' and now it can boost the odds for David O. Russell's 'Joy' and Quentin Tarrantino's 'The Hateful Eight.' I'm currently betting on 'Joy' because I think it'll have the heart-tugging emotion that a winner often needs. The movie's title promises that."

Other Expert: Tariq Khan (Fox News)
 

#5. "Carol" (1 Expert; Odds to win: 12/1)
Todd Haynes' Cannes hit about a married woman (Cate Blanchett) who falls in love with a store clerk (Rooney Mara). 

Expert: Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly)
 

#6. "The Hateful Eight" (Odds to win: 14 to 1)
Writer/director Quentin Tarantino's Western in which eight passengers seek refuge in a mountain pass during a blizzard. 
 

#7. "Room" (2 Experts; Odds to win (18 to 1)
Lenny Abrahamson's dark drama with rising star Brie Larson as a kidnap victim and newcomer Jacob Tremblay as the son she conceived in captivity.

Thelma Adams (Gold Derby): "While I love 'Spotlight,' which I saw at TIFF, it seems, in this very early stage, like it will not go the distance. 'Room' has passionate supporters as the TIFF People's Choice Award demonstrated.

Other Expert: Jenelle Riley (Variety)
 

#8. "The Danish Girl" (1 Expert: Odds to win: 20/1)
Tom Hooper's period piece stars last year's Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything") as the transgendered Lill Elbe and Alicia Vikander as his understanding wife.

Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post): "'Spotlight' will have a tough time maintaining its TIFF momentum all the way to January. It's journalism ode seems like something the media will eat up before deciding the category has grander contenders. I think it's guaranteed a nomination, but I expect the conversation will drift back toward 'The Danish Girl,' 'Steve Jobs' and 'The Revenant.'"
 

#9. "Brooklyn" (Odds to win: 22/1)
John Crowley's Sundance sensation about a young Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) beginning life anew in 1950s Brooklyn.
 

#10. "Inside Out" (Odds to win 22/1)
The Pixar blockbuster tells the tale of a young girl whose five personified emotions lead her through life.
 

#11  "Bridge of Spies" (1 Expert; Odds to win: 22/1)
Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller stars two-time Oscar champ Tom Hanks as James Donovan, a lawyer defending accused Soviet spy Rudolf Abel (three-time Tony winner Mark Rylance).

Jack Mathews (Gold Derby): "In the year of the true story in movies, Steven Spielberg's 'Bridge of Spies' strikes me as a sure contender. Spielberg's name above the title ensures interest among Oscar voters, the Coen brothers' revision of the script ensures a solid story and Tom Hanks in the lead role ensures a riveting central character."

Oscar Experts: Odds in top nine races

Make your Oscar predictions 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 in-house team of 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.

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