Two leading Oscar pundits -- Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood) and Steve Pond (The Wrap) -- just added new drama to the Best Actress race: they ditched Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) for Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), who recently pulled off an upset at the BAFTA Awards.
Lawrence still retains a sizeable lead, according Gold Derby's poll of 25 experts. Eighteen pick her to win, giving her 9-to-5 racetrack odds. However, Hammond and Pond join four other notable gurus who are betting on Riva too: Tariq Khan (Fox News), Guy Lodge (HitFix), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood/ Indiewire) and Peter Travers (Rolling Stone). See complete breakdown of Best Actress predictions here.
The BAFTA Award -- Britain's equivalent to the Oscar -- often foretells upsets about to occur in Hollywood. For example, it correctly foretold victories by Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) last year and Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) in 2007 when most Oscar pundits were betting on Viola Davis (The Help) and Julie Christie (Away from Her).
However, Lawrence won two key U.S. precursor prizes that often tattle on Oscar -- the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award. SAG champ Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) still retains a slight edge to win Best Supporting Actor with the backing of 11 experts, who give him 23-to-10 odds. But Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) is pulling up fast with the support of 10 seers. Four experts pick Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). See how the pundits rank all nominees in that category according to likelihood of winning.
Argo is favored to win Best Picture by 24 of the 25 Oscarologists polled. Only Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly) is holding out for Lincoln. Up until today, he was joined by Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), but, frustrated by the state of the derby, she withdrew from further punditry this season. She tweeted, "Just took some of the pressure off and am not going to be a @goldderby 'expert' this year. But keep following them they'll be righter than I."
A new Oscarologist just joined the Gold Derby gang -- Ramin Setoodeh (Newsweek Daily Beast), who is making rather mainstream predictions (Argo, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Hathaway) except for the Best Director race, which he's calling for David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook). Three Gold Derby peers agree.
Five experts back Ang Lee (Life of Pi) for the helmer's gold. One opts for Michael Haneke (Amour). All 15 others believe Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) will prevail.
Photos: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook (Weinstein Co.), Emmanuelle Riva in Amour (Sony Pictures Classics)