With fall film festivals on the horizon, it's time to start predicting the next Oscars. Don't worry. Once you make early picks at Gold Derby, you can change them as often as you wish, but it's important that you make forecasts now in order to help us set initial racetrack odds that terrify Hollywood film chiefs. Log in now.
We've checked with key studio execs and Oscar consultants in order to get an early take and to clear up false scuttlebutt. As a result, for example, we can tell you to bump Don Cheadle out of your Best Actor predictions. Yes, "Miles Ahead" will unspool at the New York Film Festival, but the movie will not be released wide till 2016. You can also bump "Joy" star Bradley Cooper out of that category, too. Instead, he'll campaign in supporting for "Joy" and will have a tough time getting around the grandstanding performance of costar Edgar Ramirez. No one at the Weinstein Co. has yet seen "The Hateful Eight," so they don't know which stars are lead or supporting, so we're currently listing the chief ones all in supporting.
This year we see lots of recent past champs returning for more academy gold. Last year Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ended up won three Oscars for "Birdman" as a writer, director and producer. He could add to that total with his followup, "The Revenant," which stars five-time Oscar also-ran Leonardo DiCaprio as real-life fur trapper Hugh Glass, who seeks revenge after being left for dead in 1823.
Both of last year's lead-acting winners have the potential to repeat. Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor for playing ALS-afflicted scientist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything" and this year he makes another major transformation, into a transgender woman in Tom Hooper's "The Danish Girl."
Julianne Moore won Best Actress as a professor with Alzheimer's disease in "Still Alice," and this year she stars in "Freeheld" as a police officer with terminal cancer fighting to give her pension benefits to her same-sex partner.
Will either of them win a second straight Oscar? No actor has won twice in a row since Tom Hanks won Best Actor for "Philadelphia" (1993) and "Forrest Gump" (1994).
They could have some familiar competition. Redmayne's rival Bradley Cooper, who contended for "American Sniper," has a chance to return to the Best Actor lineup as a self-destructive chef in "Burnt." He could also be a supporting nominee for his latest collaboration with director David O. Russell, "Joy."
Moore could face her 2014 rival Marion Cotillard, this time as Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth," and they both may be up against last year's Best Supporting Actress nominee Meryl Streep as the title character in "Ricki and the Flash." They should both watch out for "Joy" star Jennifer Lawrence who won Best Actress in 2012 for another Russell film, "Silver Linings Playbook."
A lead-actor candidate from 2014 could be recognized for a supporting performance this time around: Michael Keaton as a newspaper editor in "Spotlight." Keaton's "Spotlight" co-star Mark Ruffalo was also an Oscar nominee last year — Best Supporting Actor in "Foxcatcher" — but he could graduate to the lead race for the first time for this film.
Other high-profile contenders hoping for recognition this year include Steven Spielberg, back with the Cold War thriller "Bridge of Spies" after contending in 2012 with the biopic "Lincoln." Angelina Jolie directed and stars in "By the Sea" alongside her husband Brad Pitt. Quentin Tarantino endured script leaks of his western "The Hateful Eight," but after almost canceling the film, it's now set for release on Christmas.
Pixar hopes "Inside Out" will return the studio to the Best Picture race for the first time since "Toy Story 3" in 2010, while Oliver Stone hopes the biopic "Snowden" will bring him back to the Oscars for the first time since "Nixon" two decades ago.
Veteran filmmaker Ridley Scott is hoping for his very first Best Director win for the sci-fi film "The Martian." He previously directed one Oscar champ for Best Picture ("Gladiator," 2000), but he has nevertheless lost all three of his directing bids.
Cannes Film Festival champs "Carol" and "Son of Saul" hope to continue their success with recognition from the academy, while the critically hailed "Mad Max: Fury Road" aims to be a rare summer blockbuster welcomed into the Oscar fold.
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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.)
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Photo: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu at the Oscars, 2015. Credit: David Fisher/REX
Photo: Julianne Moore at the Oscars, 2015. Credit: Stewart Cook/REX
Photo: Johnny Depp in "Black Mass." Credit: Moviestore/REX