The Oscar fields of Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing are technical awards that often go to big-budget blockbusters, action films and epics. So who will earn nominations in these races when the final contenders are announced on Thursday (January 14)?
These official racetrack odds below are derived from the predictions of 25 Expert film journalists along with the Gold Derby Editors who cover awards year-round, the Top 24 Users who got the top scores predicting last year's Oscar nominations and the thousands of Users who make up the largest (and often savviest) bloc of predictors.
The experts strongly favor "Star Wars" for the win in the Visual Effects contest, with 17 out of 25 backing the Disney fairy tale: Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Tim Gray (Variety), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Dave Karger (Fandango), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Michael Musto (Out.com), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) and Glenn Whipp (LA Times).
But another six experts say it will be "Mad Max": Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Brian Truitt (USA Today) and Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com).
Three experts are going out on a limb for "The Danish Girl": Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly) and Brian Truitt (USA Today).
Our last expert, Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), thinks "The Martian" will take the prize.
Five out of our six editors also predict "Star Wars": Chris Beachum, Rob Licuria, Tom O'Neil, Paul Sheehan and myself. Marcus Dixon is the sole outlier forecasting a victory for "The Martian."
The Top 24 Users are split three ways but strongly in favor of "Star Wars," with 16 of those elite predictors giving it best odds, including Cinemateo21, who tied for the highest accuracy predicting last year's Oscar nominations (79%). Another five top users pick "Mad Max," including Denton Davidson, who also had 79% at last year's nominations. The last two of our Top 24 is predicting "The Martian."
While "Star Wars" has the advantage in the Best Visual Effects race, "Mad Max" is out front in both sound contests. For Best Sound Editing, 19 out of 24 experts, five out of six editors and 16 of our Top 24 pick "Mad Max: Fury Road" to prevail, but "Star Wars" and "The Revenant" are both forces to be reckoned with in that race as well.
"Mad Max" is also the strong favorite to win Best Sound Mixing, with support from 17 out of 24 experts, five out of six editors and 17 of our Top 24 Users, though "Star Wars" and "The Revenant" also have significant support from our predictors.
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Photo Credits: "Star Wars" by Walt Disney Pictures; "Mad Max" and "The Martian" by Moviestore/REX