Oscar experts’ predictions: ‘Spotlight’ now leads for Best Picture; ‘Joy,’ ‘Steve Jobs,’ ‘The Revenant’ tied for second

We have a new frontrunner for Best Picture: the docudrama “Spotlight,” which debuted in Venice, screened in Telluride and played to packed industry and public screenings last week at the Toronto film festival. Seven of our 17 Oscar experts — journalists from leading outlets such as Variety, USA Today and Yahoo — are now backing Thomas McCarthy‘s compelling film about the 2001 investigation by the Boston Globe into widespread sex abuse by Catholic priests; that is up from just one expert five days ago. 

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As you see from the graph above, the biopic “Joy,” which has yet to unspool, sat atop our Best Picture chart last Thursday. Now it is tied with “Steve Jobs,” which had its world premiere at Telluride, and the still-unseen “The Revenant” for second place with two votes apiece. They are followed by Cannes sensation “Carol,” which continues to do well after a strong showing in Telluride, and the still underwraps “The Hateful Eight.” (Click on the graph to explore these trends in-depth.)

After completing the trifecta of festivals, “Spotlight” has the momentum as it heads toward a Nov. 6 opening. Much of the focus is on the featured performance of Michael Keaton as the editor who drives his team to break the story. This Open Road release now has odds of 6/1 to win Best Picture. These odds are calculated based on the rankings of all the contenders by our experts (See the complete breakdown of their individual predictions here.)

Joy” reunites writer/director David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence for a third time. Lawrence — who won Best Actress for their first collaboration “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) and a supporting nomination for their second “American Hustle” (2013) — is Joy Mangano, a Long Island single mother of three who invented the Miracle Mop. Two veterans of those other Russell films are in this one as well: Oscar champ Robert DeNiro plays her father and three-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper plays a Home Shopping Network executive who believes in her. This 20th Century Fox film is due out on Christmas day and now has odds of 8/1 to take the top prize. 

Michael Fassbender embodies the man at the center of Universal’s “Steve Jobs.” The film by Oscar champ Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”) skipped Toronto rather than being shunted to the second week. It will be the Centerpiece of the New York Film Festival on Oct. 3 before its limited release on Oct. 9. It too has odds of 8/1 to win Best Picture.

Also set for Christmas is another Fox film, “The Revenant,” which also has odds of 8/1 to score a repeat Best Picture award for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu who wrote, directed and produced last year’s big winner “Birdman.” Leonardo DiCaprio portrays a fur trapper mauled by a bear and left for dead by the rest of his hunting party who then treks 200 miles to exact his revenge. DiCaprio is 0 for five at the Oscars, having lost four acting bids and one for producing Best Picture nominee “The Wolf of Wall Street.” 

Oscar Experts: Odds in top nine races

Two years ago after winning her second Oscar for “Blue Jasmine,” Cate Blanchett could well claim her third for playing another woman in crisis in “Carol.” Todd Haynes adapted Patricia Highsmith‘s 1952 novel “The Price of Salt,” in which a housewife (Blanchett) falls in love with a store clerk (Rooney Mara). The film premiered at Cannes to raves and a Best Actress win for Mara. Those Oscar whizzes at the Weinstein Company screened it at Telluride and have it slotted in at the Gotham filmfest on Oct. 9 before its limited release on Nov. 20. It has odds of 14/1.

Writer/director Quentin Tarantino has overseen three Best Picture nominees (“Pulp Fiction,” “Inglorious Basterds” and “Django Unchained”). He returns to the race with “The Hateful Eight,” a revisionist Western set in post-Civil War Wyoming. The film focuses on a group of strangers forced to seek refuge at an old inn during a blizzard. While this Weinstein release was shot with the rarely-used 65mm lens, it will screen in selected cinemas come Christmas Day in 70mm before going wide on Jan. 8. It too has odds of 14/1 to win Best Picture.

See a breakdown of Oscar odds here. See how each expert ranks contenders in nine top races.

Here’s how the Best Picture predictions break down according to our 17 pundits.

“Spotlight” (7 Experts)
Tim Gray (Variety)
Kevin Polowy (Yahoo)
Jenelle Riley (Variety)
Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby)
Sasha Stone (AwardsDaily)
Peter Travers (Rolling Stone)
Brian Truitt (USA Today)

“Steve Jobs” (2 Experts)
Edward Douglas (ComingSoon)
Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood)

“Joy” (2 Experts)
Tariq Khan (Fox News)
Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby)

“The Revenant” (2 Experts)
Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere)
Susan Wloszczyna (RogerEbert.com)

“Bridge of Spies” (1 Expert)
Jack Mathews (Gold Derby)

“The Danish Girl” (1 Expert)
Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post)

“Inside Out” (1 Expert)
Keith Simanton (IMDB)

“Room” (1 Expert)
Thelma Adams (Gold Derby)

See complete list of Oscar odds and rankings here.

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