American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street and August: Osage County have been named the early frontrunners for next year's (14) Best Picture Oscar by America's top movie critics.

Respected experts like Thom Geier, Tariq Khan, Peter Travers and Thelma Adams have offered up their opinions on the favourites in awards news website's first Oscars countdown odds of the year.

David O. Russell's 1970s period film American Hustle leads the way with 9/2 odds, closely followed by Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio's latest collaboration, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Meryl Streep's latest August: Osage County comes in third, while the Coen Brothers' folk music film Inside Llewyn Davis and George Clooney and Matt Damon's The Monuments Men also make the top five.

Russell is the early favourite for the Best Director award, while Robert Redford leads the way in the Best Actor category for his high seas drama All is Lost, and Cate Blanchett is the clear leader in the Best Actress stakes for her portrayal as "a tarnished trophy wife" in Woody Allen's new drama Blue Jasmine.

The Oscar nominations will be announced in January (14) and the awards ceremony will be hosted by comedienne Ellen DeGeneres in Hollywood on 2 March (14).