Lincoln leads the Oscars' Best Picture race with 4-to-1 odds, according to Gold Derby's poll of 24 experts, but beware: dark horse Argo is pulling up fast.
Thirteen Oscarologists are backing Lincoln, compared to 10 for Argo and one for Silver Linings Playbook. (See the pundits' picks here.) When their predictions are combined, they translate into these rankings and odds. It's significant that Argo also scores 4-to-1 odds. That means that, while Lincoln reaps more first-place votes, Argo ranks consistently higher on all 24 pundit lists. Considering the nuances of how Oscar balloting works on a technical level, that boosts Argo's hopes of victory.
These notable Oscarologists back Lincoln: Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter), Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly), Richard Horgan (Mediabistro), Dave Karger (Fandango), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Kevin Polowy (Next Movie), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Alex Suskind (Moviefone), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood, Indiewire), Glenn Whipp (L.A. Times) and Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today).
The 10 pundits that pick Argo to bag the top Oscar: Thelma Adams (Yahoo), Edward Douglas (Comingsoon), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Guy Lodge (Hitfix), Steve Pond (TheWrap), Christopher Rosen (The Huffington Post), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Chuck Walton (Fandango) and me.
Betting on Silver Linings Playbook: Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere).
Lincoln has two significant advantages over all rivals. Steven Spielberg's biopic of the 16th U.S. President leads with the most nominations (12), which usually results in winning the top Oscar. Meantime, Argo is not nominated in the directors' category. Only once in modern history has a film managed to win Best Picture without a corresponding bid for helming: Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
But the directors' snub may actually bolster its Oscar hopes, if Hollywood chooses to rally to Ben Affleck's side in consolation. Argo and Affleck recently beat Lincoln and Spielberg for Best Picture and Director at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards where Lincoln had led with the most nominations.
Photos: Lincoln (Dreamworks), Argo (Warner Bros.)