Oscar predictions slugfest: Big upsets by Isabelle Huppert, Dev Patel, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ & more? [WATCH]

“The Experts at Gold Derby are pretty much evenly split. Last I checked, 14 are going with Denzel and 13 for Casey. That is a horse race,” says Marcus James Dixon about the Oscar contest for Best Actor between Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”). That’s just one of several close races Dixon debated with Tom O’Neil, Paul Sheehan, Chris Beachum and myself with less than one week before Oscars are handed out on February 26. Watch out slugfest above.

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Best Actor isn’t the only close race at this year’s Oscars. We’re also losing sleep over Best Supporting Actor. For much of the season Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) seemed to be the overwhelming favorite, but he was surprised at the Golden Globes by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”) and then by Dev Patel (“Lion”) at the BAFTAs. Taylor-Johnson was snubbed by the Oscars, but Patel is a major threat, giving a showy performance in a borderline leading role in a well liked film that’s up for Best Picture.

We should also watch out for revered French actress Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) in the race for Best Actress. Though Emma Stone (“La La Land”) has become the heavy favorite after winning Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA Awards, Huppert could appeal to the increasingly international academy. “If there’s one thing you can say about the Oscar voters, and even the Emmy voters maybe even more so, is there’s a snobbishness there,” O’Neil explains. “There has to be an aspirational element to these things and a cool factor, and boy Isabelle Huppert is as cool as you can get.”

The five of us also debate whether “Kubo and the Two Strings” can overtake “Zootopia” for Best Animated Feature, whether Donald Trump‘s attempted Muslim ban could influence voters to choose Iran’s “The Salesman” for Best Foreign Language Film, and more.

Predict the Oscar winners now; change them till February 26

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 winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

Below: Listen to the audio podcast version of this slugfest. Do a search for Gold Derby at iTunes to subscribe to our regular podcast series.

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