Oscar nailbiter: Will female-driven films make a comeback in Best Picture lineup?

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The world took Hollywood to task last year after the Oscars snubbed people of color in the acting races. However, there was another, much larger, group that also went unfairly represented by the academy in 2014: Women. Luckily for filmgoers everywhere, 2015 looks to be a step forward for female-centric films after last year’s unfortunate drought.

Photo Gallery: Best Picture Oscar Contenders 2015

Indeed, last year’s eight nominees for Best Picture were all male-led features: “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” “The Theory of Everything” and “Whiplash.” Only one of those — “The Theory of Everything” — had a female lead, though Felicity Jones played second fiddle to her male counterpart, Eddie Redmayne.

Of last year’s Best Actress lineup, only Jones starred in a film otherwise embraced by academy members. “Wild” brought bids only for lead Reese Witherspoon and supporting player Laura Dern, while Marion Cotillard (“Two Days, One Night”), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) and Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) were the sole nominees for their films. Oscar voters liked their performances but not the movies themselves.

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As the dominant voting demographic at the academy is older white males, it’s hardly a surprise that this unfortunate gender bias exists. But 2015 could be a step in the right direction.

Leading the fight this year, appropriately, is Cate Blanchett. This two-time Oscar champ stars in a pair of red-hot Best Picture contenders — “Carol” and “Truth” — just two years after giving a rousing speech about equality while accepting her trophy for “Blue Jasmine.” “Those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences, they are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people!”

Gold Derby’s 22 Oscar experts — journalists who cover the beat year-round — predict that no less than four female-driven films will earn Best Picture nominations, up from zero last year. They are:

Joy,” a dramedy inspired by the life of a Long Island homemaker (Jennifer Lawrence) turned inventor;

Room,” the story of an imprisoned young woman (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son;

Carol,” about an unhappily married woman (Blanchett) and her relationship with a young shop clerk (Rooney Mara) and;

Brooklyn,” a period charmer about an Irish emigrant (Saoirse Ronan) to America in the early 1950s.

But that’s not all. There are a slew of films told from the female perspective on the cusp of receiving nominations that could very well sneak into our Experts’ predictions before Oscar nominations are announced January 14. These hopefuls include “Inside Out,” “The Danish Girl,” “Truth,” “Suffragette” and “45 Years.”

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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 in-house team of Editors with 74.44%, followed by the Experts with 71.11% and all Users with 68.09%. Which group will be victorious this year?

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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