The 2017 Oscar race for Best Director has the potential to be nothing but first-time nominees, though our current predictions favor four newcomers and one Oscar legend. So who will make the cut in this race when the final contenders are announced on Tuesday, January 24?
These official racetrack odds below are derived from the predictions of 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, the All-Star Top 24 who got the top scores when you combine the last two years’ nominations and the thousands of Users who make up the largest (and often savviest) bloc of predictors.
Damien Chazelle, “La La Land” – 13/8
Barry Jenkins, “Moonlight” – 4/1
Kenneth Lonergan, “Manchester by the Sea” – 9/2
Denis Villeneuve, “Arrival” – 10/1
Martin Scorsese, “Silence” – 18/1
The Experts strongly favor Chazelle for the win, with 25 out of 28 backing him: Thelma Adams (Gold Derby), Erik Davis (Fandango), Edward Douglas (Weekend Warrior), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), 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), Michael Musto (Out.com), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Yahoo), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Nicole Sperling (Entertainment Weekly), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Brian Truitt (USA Today), Adnan Virk (ESPN), Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere), Glenn Whipp (LA Times) and Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com).
This would be Chazelle’s first nomination for directing, though he was nominated two years ago for his screenplay for “Whiplash.” Also, Chazelle will be 32-years-old when awards are handed out, which will make him the youngest winner of Best Director in Oscar history.
Of the remaining Experts,. two predict an upset victory by Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”): Keith Simanton (IMDb) and Anne Thompson (IndieWire). Like Chazelle, Lonergan is a past Oscar nominee for screenwriting, but this would be his first bid as a director.
Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes) is the sole expert predicting Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”). He has never been nominated for an Oscar in any category.
Meanwhile, our Editors are nearly unanimous. Six out of seven of us agree that Chazelle is out front — Chris Beachum, Marcus James Dixon, Rob Licuria, Tom O’Neil, Paul Sheehan and myself — while Matt Noble is the sole holdout for Jenkins.
The Top 24 Users strongly favor Chazelle as well, with 21 of those elite predictors giving him best odds, including JasonOsia, who had the highest accuracy predicting last year’s Oscar nominations (83%). Two other top users pick Jenkins instead.
Our All-Star users are even more strongly in favor of Chazelle as the Best Director frontrunner. Twenty-two of them are betting on him to prevail, while one forecasts an upset for Jenkins.
None of our Experts, Editors, Top Users or All-Stars are predicting Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) or Martin Scorsese (“Silence”) to win, though they are nevertheless likely nominees according to our odds. But also be wary of potential surprises from Denzel Washington (“Fences,” 33/1 odds), David Mackenzie (“Hell or High Water,” 50/1 odds), recent DGA nominee Garth Davis (“Lion,” 50/1 odds) and Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge,” 66/1 odds).
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is 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.