Our 23 Oscar experts drawn from major media outlets have been busy updating their predictions in the wake of the Critics' Choice, Golden Globe nominations. Ridley Scott is now the frontrunner to take overdue Best Director honors for "The Martian."
He has risen to first place in our polling with odds of 14/5 based on support from 11 Experts. Just eight days ago (December 7) he was trailing Tom McCarthy ("Spotlight") in that race. Starting on December 9 they were tied for the lead with 3/1 odds, but now Scott has broken that tie and stands alone at the top of the Experts' rankings.
The 11 Oscarologists backing Scott are Tim Gray (Variety), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Dave Karger (Fandango), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood) and Glenn Whipp (LA Times).
Of those, the journos who switched to Scott in the last week are Polowy, Rosen and Sheehan.
But eight Experts are still forecasting McCarthy for the win: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Michael Musto (Out.com), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) and Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com).
Two Experts are going out on a limb for George Miller ("Mad Max: Fury Road"), who earned nominations from the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards: Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior) and Peter Travers (Rolling Stone).
These changes come after "The Martian" earned Best Picture nominations from the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards. Scott earned Best Director nominations from both groups and also won the directing prize from the National Board of Review, so now Experts are predicting a split in the top races ("Spotlight" still leads their Best Picture predictions), like in 2013 when the sci-fi blockbuster "Gravity" won Best Director and "12 Years a Slave" took Best Picture.
This would be Scott's fourth Oscar nomination, but the 78-year-old filmmaker has never won. Twice he earned nominations for helming films that didn't make the Best Picture lineup ("Thelma & Louise" in 1991, "Black Hawk Down" in 2001), but even when he directed a film that won Best Picture ("Gladiator" in 2000), he didn't go along for the ride; that year he lost to Steven Soderbergh, who famously had two directing nominations in that contest and won for "Traffic."
"The Martian" was a hit both with critics (80 on MetaCritic, 93% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences (almost $600 million grossed worldwide), which is a powerful one-two punch that can sometimes overcome the academy's usual bias against genre films; consider the success of the aforementioned "Gravity," or "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which won Best Picture and Best Director in 2003. Do you think Ridley Scott will be equally successful for "The Martian"?
Refer to the chart below to see how the Experts' predictions have changed since last week. Click on the chart to see our complete Best Director stats.
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Ridley Scott photo credit: Stephen Lovekin/REX
"The Martian" photo credit: Moviestore/REX