Gutsy Oscar acting predictions: Anne Thompson, Pete Hammond, Tim Gray, Tom O’Neil

“I think Joaquin Phoenix is way out in front” in the Best Actor race, declares Pete Hammond (Deadline) in the Oscar predictions slugfest with Anne Thompson (Indiewire), Tim Gray (Variety) and Gold Derby editor Tom O’Neil. “He’s the one to beat. No question about it.”

But “the academy loves Adam Driver,” warns Anne. “I think it’s between the two.”

Currently, all four Experts predict Phoenix (“Joker”) will win and Driver (“Marriage Story”) will be nominated. See their Oscar predictions plus rankings by 29 other pundits, too.

Tim acknowledges that Phoenix “has a reputation as a maverick and eccentric, but he doesn’t cost the studios any money. He reminds me of Sean Penn when he won for ‘Milk,’ saying, ‘I know I don’t make things easy for you guys to love me, but thank you for this.'”

Who will the other Oscar lead-actor nominees be? Tim and Anne agree that Antonio Banderas (“Pain and Glory”) will probably make the cut. Anne also cites the strong possibility that recent Golden Globe champ Taron Egerton may nab a nom, too: “Egerton has the flashy, flamboyant, big role – costumes, makeup, hair, teeth!”

“Voters can’t resist Leo DiCaprio,” Pete adds. His role in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is “the life of 90% of the actors in the academy. They’ve lived that role. I find it hard to believe he won’t be nominated.”

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UPLOADED Jan 12, 2020 8:54 pm