Continuing our “spirited” discussion of early trends in the Oscar race, Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil and I really go at it in assessing the Best Actor contest and try to figure out who is up and who is down at this very early point in the competition. I am not into the ranking game but love to talk up the Pete Hammond badgepossibilities and offer possible clues as to which way the winds are blowing for these talented guys. As always, Best Actor is chock-full of possibilities, and we analyze it based on who “experts” have lined up behind at the Gold Derby website (which, like Deadline, is owned by PMC).

Again, I offer my disclaimer that the list we are using is Gold Derby’s, so don’t blame me if your Oscar hopeful isn’t mentioned thisgold-derby time around. So can Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio finally prevail? Is there a spot for six-time nominee and two-time winner Michael Caine, now 82 years old? Can Bryan Cranston add an Oscar to his Emmys and Tony? Can Eddie Redmayne repeat or Will Smith score in the compelling – and topical – true-life stories? There are many ways this race can turn. Click the link above  to watch the fireworks.