At the beginning of December, 2011 Supporting Actress champ Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) looked like a long-shot to pick up a bookend Oscar for her scene-stealing turn in “ .” She had odds of only 100/1 for her role as real-life computer whiz Dorothy Vaughan, who was instrumental in the early days of NASA. But after reaping bids from both the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, Spencer has vaulted into the top five according to our Oscar experts, and now has odds of 12/1 to prevail.
To win, Spencer will have to take her “Help” co-star Viola Davis who is campaigning in the category for her performance in “Fences.” She had been expected to compete in lead but shifted to this race in late October and immediately became the favorite to win, with current odds of 17/10. She has the votes of 23 of our 27 Oscar experts, who are cover this beat year-round for major media outlets like Variety, Yahoo and Entertainment Weekly. Davis lost her Best Actress bid for “The Help” to Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”). She had been nominated in 2008 in supporting for “Doubt,” as was Streep up in lead.
In second place is one-time frontrunner Michelle Williams for her small but pivotal part in the domestic drama “Manchester by the Sea.” She has the backing of four of our experts, which translates into odds of 7/2 to finally win an Oscar after three losses. She contended in this category in 2005 for”Brokeback Mountain” and up in lead for both “Blue Valentine” (2010) and “My Week with Marilyn” (2011).
In third place, with odds of 5/1, is Naomie Harris for her heartbreaking performance as a mother struggling with drug addiction in Barry Jenkins‘ character study “Moonlight.” Harris has never been nominated at the Oscars and could get carried along by the groundswell of support for her film
2002 Best Actress winner Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”) is in fourth place, with odds of 8/1, for her sensitive portrayal in “Lion” of Sue Brierley, an Australian woman who adopts a boy from India and latter supports him when he goes in search of his family.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Viola Davis, “Fences” (17/10 odds)
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Erik Davis (Fandango), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Joyce Eng (TV Guide),Tim Gray (Variety), Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Dave Karger (IMDB), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Jack Mathews (Gold Derby), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Adnan Virk (ESPN), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere), Glenn Whipp (Los Angeles Times), Susan Wloszczyna (RogetEbert.com).
2. Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea” (7/2 odds)
Michael Musto (Out.com), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo!), Keith Simanton (IMDB),Peter Travers (Rolling Stone).
3. Naomie Harris, “Moonlight” (5/1 odds)
4. Nicole Kidman, “Lion” (15/2 odds)
5. Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures” (12/1 odds)
6. Greta Gurwig, “2oth Century Women” (40/1 odds)
7. Janelle Monae,”Hidden Figures” (66/1 odds)
All the other potential nominees are at 100/1 odds.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how Davis is faring in our Oscar odds. Since Oscar voters can place her wherever they choose, we will continue to leave her as option for both lead and supporting categories. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.