Mahershala Ali (‘Moonlight’) looks like lock at Oscars for Best Supporting Actor

For his featured role in “MoonlightMahershala Ali has dominated the critics awards, winning over 26 of the 33 groups to weigh in to date. Not surprisingly, he is the overwhelming favorite to take home the Oscar too, with leading odds of 1/10 according to our experts who follow the Academy Awards year-round.

But are we right that he is such a sure thing? After reading our three reasons that back up our odds, be sure to weigh in with your predictions in this category and all of the other Oscar races.

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1) Ali is predicted to win the SAG Award.
While  “Nocturnal Animals” scene-stealer Aaron Taylor-Johnson pulled off an upset at the Golden Globes, he was snubbed by the actors guild and that could scupper his momentum. Instead, Ali is the firm favorite to win this precursor prize. Nine of the last 10 Best Supporting Actor Oscar winners contended here first (only Christoph Waltz managed an Oscar win for “Django Unchained” without a SAG bid). And seven of those won the guild prize before taking home the Oscar.

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2) Ali is at the center of his film.
All of his competition share screen time with established talents. Hugh Grant has Meryl Streep alongside him in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Lucas Hedges is outshone by Casey Affleck in “Manchester by the Sea,” Dev Patel works with both Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara in “Lion” s doe Jeff Bridges with Ben Foster and Chris Pine in “Hell or High Water.” And Taylor-Johnson has only a small role in a film dominated by Jake Gyllenhaal. With three actors — Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes — playing the lead in “Moonlight,” Ali stands out as the father figure.

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3) Ali is in the most important film.
By focusing on issues of inequality, “Moonlight” is the most important of the films with a supporting actor contender. Granted “Lion” has a certain gravitas too while those films featuring Bridges, Grant, Hedges and Taylor-Johnson are more entertaining than enlightening.

Predict the Oscar nominations now; change them till January 24

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. 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.

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