Gold Derby Oscarologists favor George Clooney for Best Actor

Gold Derby’s three sets of pundits (Experts, Editors, Users) are split over who will win the Academy Award for Best Actor. Most of our two dozen Experts favor George Clooney (“The Descendants), who leads with odds of 5-to-4. However, enough of our Editors and Users support Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar“) to land him in second place with 21-to-10 odds. Further back are Jean Dujardin (“The Artist“) at 12-to-1 and Brad Pitt (“Moneyball“), with 16-to-1 chances.


Sixteen Gold Derby Experts predict Clooney to prevail, including Thelma Adams (, Kyle Buchanan (Vulture), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Dave Karger (Entertainment Weekly), Kevin Lewin (WENN), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood), Matt McDaniel (Yahoo Movies), Kevin Polowy (NextMovie), Keith Simanton (IMDb), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Chuck Walton (Fandango), Susan Wloszcyna (USA Today) and Gold Derby editors Tom O’Neil and Paul Sheehan. A full rundown of the Experts’ predictions can be reviewed here.

Gold Derby Editors are more skeptical of Clooney, though Rob Licuria predicts him. Our users are just as wary with only 22% giving him their top spot. Daniel Montgomery, Andrew Pickett, and Adam Waldowski have DiCaprio as the frontrunner as do 42 % of our users. Chris Beachum backs Dujardin, though only 3% of users concur. See our Editors’ full predictions here.

A Best Actor win by 2005 supporting champ Clooney (“Syriana”) would not be in keeping with the Academy’s recent spirit of spreading the wealth. Though Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty,” 1999) and Denzel Washington (“Training Day,” 2001) broke tradition by winning Best Supporting Actor ahead of their Best Actor wins, they are outliers. 

Performers perceived as overdue like Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech,” 2010), Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart,” 2009), or Sean Penn (“Mystic River,” 2003) have fared well recently. So have critical favorites like Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote,” 2005) and Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland,” 2006).

The Academy tends to favor leading men who rarely venture into smaller roles. Clooney may lose traction in this race if the focus shifts to his work as writer, director, and supporting actor in “The Ides of March.”

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DiCaprio is a bona fide leading man. He starred in last year’s Best Picture nominee “Inception” as well as 2006’s winning “The Departed.” He already has three Oscar nominations and a fourth for “J. Edgar” would further suggest he is overdue to win. In addition to his support from our editors, two experts — Tariq Khan (Fox News) and Steve Pond (The Wrap) — have him out front.

Pitt, another of Hollywood’s beloved and unrewarded performers, could easily manage a nomination for “Moneyball.” Experts Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter) and Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) both believe he can go all the way. Seven percent of Users concur with Feinberg and Wells.

The full chart breakdown of Experts, Editors, and Users predictions can be found here.

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