I have never believed you can trust people predicting a movie to WIN that they haven’t seen. It’s sort of like the choice between spitting in the wind and hoping it lands in the cup you can’t see, and just leaning over spitting the cup that’s already sitting there. Hope springs eternal when imaginary movies are winning imaginary Oscars.  It’s like imagining that perfect wedding day with a person you’ve never met. So much could go right. So much could go wrong.

Nonetheless, here is how Best Picture is shaking down over at Gold Derby (and you can add Kris Tapley to the Argo list, though he doesn’t participate in Gold Derby) [UPDATED]:

8 predicting a big win for “Les Miz”: Edward Douglas (Comingsoon),Tariq Khan (Fox News), Sean O’Connell (Hollywood News),Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Alex Suskind (Moviefone), Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) and me.

5 “Argo” backers: Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today).

4 still behind “Silver Linings”: Thelma Adams (Yahoo), Steve Pond(The Wrap),  Dave Karger and Chuck Walton (Fandango).

Loyal to “Lincoln”: Matt Atchity (RottenTomatoes), Kevin Polowy(NextMovie) and Glenn Whipp (LA Times).

Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood/ Indiewire) picks “Life of Pi,” Guy Lodge (In Contention/Hitfix) opts for “The Master” andMichael Musto (Village Voice) chooses “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Tom O’Neil doesn’t agree with me on that – he’s of the  mind that you can predict movies without seeing them based on subject matter, pedigree and, if any exists, buzz. A commenter over at his site who calls him Snuggles4 (I can’t get beyond the name – he should be something more formidable?) predicted well in Gold Derby’s Emmy and Oscar contest. But of course, these predictions that were so successful were made right before the Oscars happened. I don’t think anyone tracked last year how early Snuggles4 declared his winners.

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A lot can change in a few weeks in an Oscar race that is back-loaded with some of the biggest films still to be seen – Flight, Lincoln, Les Miserables, The Hobbit, The Promised Land. It’s crazy making that these movies have not yet been seen. One thing is for sure – they won’t be killed by too much early hype – but at the same time, it will be that much harder for those movies to get and hold their place in line. It’s a risk and we’re making this thing up as we go this year.

The Gurus of Gold have put out their second predictions of the year.  Part one is Best Picture and then the acting long shots. Part two will be the actors and actresses and will go up later today. I really thought I’d put Richard Gere down as an acting long shot but it doesn’t appear so on the chart. Either way, I DO count him as an acting long shot for sure in Arbitrage – one of his best performances.

It’s a tricky thing to predict too early. Even though Dave Karger has both The King’s Speech and The Artist in the number one slot, he then has Invictus at number 1 to win in November. That was, of course, before any of us had seen the movie. You can see how easy it is to fumble with a sight unseen prediction. Meanwhile, going back to 2009 at east the Best Picture winner will have already been seen by this point.

Anne Thompson was one of only two (along with Eugene Hernandez) predicting The Hurt Locker to win it. She also famously had The King’s Speech.  It looks like the winner is either one Anne picked or one Dave Karger picked, which would put the race right now between Life of Pi and the Silver Linings Playbook.  But we don’t how 2012 is going to play out. For one thing, Oscar ballots have to be turned in before the DGA announces their nominations. The DGA are usually the harbinger for Oscar – the guidepost, the lighthouse. But without the DGA? It shall be anyone’s game.

In the meantime, Tom O’Neil has challenged Scott Feinberg to a bet that Life of Pi is one of the frontrunners.

October 2012

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On the latest edition of Oscar Poker, Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil was our special guest. His long-running Oscar site, which has been around as long as mine (formerly — roughly 13 years – has launched its 2012/2013 Oscar Predictions. Tom and I are old pals and he’s one of my favorite people to talk to about anything, but especially about the Oscars.  The two of us aren’t always right – I remember last year around this time talking about how we thought The Artist was too light to be a Best Picture winner.

In the lead over at Gold Derby are two films – one seen, one not seen: Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook.  The former has pedigree, the latter has its great response in Toronto.  Again, it is just too soon to know how the race will play out but Gold Derby has gotten the ball rolling. What is the main difference between Gold Derby and the Gurus of Gold you might ask?

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The frustrating thing about this time of year is how many of us must make “sight unseen” predictions. It’s a gamble – kind of like saying “I predict it will rain on Christmas.” Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. It’s most likely to rain so I’m gonna go with that. But Anne Thompson is one of the few who refuses to that, thus, her predictions are based on films she’s seen – she also lists contenders she thinks might go all the way, or films she thinks are in the running but isn’t confident about placing them in the winning category. Then she has the longshot dark horses. So, as we all know in the Oscar predicting game, this is a nearly foolproof method of being able to never get anything wrong.

Also, Kris and Anne have reignited Oscar Talk and you can have a listen to that as well.

Let’s trip the light fantastic, shall we?

Anne writes:

Best Picture
Front Runners

“Anna Karenina”
“The Master”

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Back in 1999, when first began, the highest of priorities was to correctly predict the Oscar race.  There was only one other site, for the most part, that predicted the Oscars – Tom O’Neil’s    Tom’s site collected mostly film critics who lined up to give their Oscar predictions every year.  The LA Times did theirs, with the help of Kenneth Turan, and no doubt the lot of you did your own Oscar predicting.  My aim as an Oscarwatcher was to understand the process.  If you ever read early interviews with me, when Variety and other outlets asked me why I started my site, I would always say that I wanted to find out why, for instance, Citizen Kane didn’t beat How Green Was My Valley,when the former is now considered, by many, to be the best film of the year — in fact, one of the finest films of all time.

I don’t know if you asked Oscar voters which film they thought was the best film ever made if they’d answer Citizen Kane.  I know that film critics write film history.  Oscar voters don’t.   And now I know full well why Citizen Kane wasn’t ever going to win the Oscar.  It took me a few years, a few heartbreaks, a few happy surprises to see how things go.  And by now, I can feel the tide as it shifts and I can see what’s coming.  I think people assumed last year that when The Social Network lost the Producers Guild that it was a big surprise.  The big surprise last year was how many awards it did win leading up to the race: no one thought it could ever win Best Picture.  David Poland proclaimed The Social Network.  Dave Karger, our predicting head guru, provisioned The King’s Speech instead.  This race was going to be a return to the conventional “Oscar movie” and an ice cold, brilliant piece of work by David Fincher would not.  But then it started winning shit? Not only did it win everything but it won where it wasn’t supposed to, sweeping the NBR and the Globes.  At some point it went from no way, to maybe? To oh my god, could it? Might it? Yes, it might! Yes, it can! Yes, it will! It can’t lose!  So then you have people who folded their arms in front of them and now say “I knew it would never win.”  “I never fell for it.” “It was always going to be the King’s Speech.” “Oscar voters aren’t critics.”  On and on it went, the weathermen taking credit for the storm they saw coming, and those explaining away how they could have missed those clouds on the horizon, the temperature shift in the air, the signs.

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Our contest is now closed!

Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby, impressive assemblage of journalists, bloggers and critics predicts the Oscar race down to two movies — The Artist and The Descendants.  Once again we are faced with the odd position of having to predict films most have still not seen.  It appears that only three films fit that bill right now and those are War Horse, Dragon Tattoo and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  Some have seen War Horse. Many of the long lead journos, some of whom are on Gold Derby’s panel, have already seen it but are under an embargo.  The Descendants looks ready to top the critics chart, beating Moneyball and Harry Potter — it looks that way so far.

One of its biggest challengers is sure to be The Artist, which already has a powerful advocate in the LA Times’ Kenneth Turan, and now Anthony Lane has written a breathless rave for the New Yorker — his review, in fact, is the first to dive deeper into the artist than the notion that is simply a charmer, which it is.   Lane also praises The Descendants, comparing it to From Here to Eternity, which famously won eight Oscars, including Picture, Director and Screenplay.

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It’s always important to remember that Oscar predictions before all of the movies have been seen is not unlike spitting in the wind.  You might get lucky and hit your mark but most likely, it splatters every which way.

Gold Derby now joins the fray and along with Gurus of Gold, two different groups with some crossover, many are predicting films that are still question marks.  I don’t trust anyone who pretends to know how the Oscar race is going to go until they’ve seen everything.  It’s complete insanity, my friends.  So, as always we must take this, along with the Gurus, with a grain of salt.  Unless there’s something I don’t know.  Does the very act of predicting films that haven’t yet been seen help or hurt those movies?  It’s hard to know. Does fake, generated buzz count as real buzz? Would a journalist see these predictions and say “War Horse has Oscar buzz.”  Maybe.  I don’t have the answers. Not yet anyway.  So here is how it’s shaking down so far.

Head on over to Gold Derby and check things out.

Stu Van Airsdale has put up his Oscar Index and I was surprised to find he put Michael Fassbender for Shame first when many aren’t even predicting him to be nominated.  He also has Meryl Streep in first place, followed by Glenn Close and Viola Davis (doesn’t he read Awards Daily?).

For supporting actress he has Octavia Spencer for The Help.   But he’s also put Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids in the running.  That’s a good call.

He’s got Christopher Plummer in the lead for Supporting Actor followed by Albert Brooks.

But I’m still stuck back on Michael Fassbender in the frontrunner’s spot.  That be some crazy shit right there, not that I’m complaining – I love outside-the-box thinking.

My frontrunners would be (only by what’s been, not by what’s coming)

Best Picture: Moneyball vs. The Descendants
Best Actor: Brad Pitt vs. George Clooney vs. Jean Dujardin vs. Leonardo Dicaprio vs. Michael Fassbender vs. Gary Oldman (tight ass race)
Best Actress: Viola Davis, followed by Streep vs. Close.  Have a funny feeling about Rooney Mara
Best Supporting Actor: Plummer vs. Brooks
Best Supporting Actress: Spencer vs. Redgrave

But it’s early yet.  Movieline’s Oscar Index is here.

Something tells me the Meryl Streep fans — and they be many — will head on over and wrap their arms around Stu.  Me, I don’t quite have faith that this will finally be the role to pull Meryl Streep through to her third Oscar win. It’s certainly possible but it’s going to have be better than her best work, or close to.  She turns in so many great performances it’s hard to single out just one.

S.T. VanAirsdale has kicked off Movieline’s coverage of this year’s Academy Awards race with a broad view of top contenders on the horizon. “And They’re (Almost) Off: The Preliminary 2011-12 Oscar Index”

Stu runs down the Best Picture, Director and Acting categories. Here is the list for possible directors:

George Clooney, The Ides of March
· David Fincher, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
· Gavin O’Connor, Warrior
· Bennett Miller, Moneyball
· Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar
· David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method
· Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
· Steven Spielberg, War Horse
· Phyllida Lloyd, The Iron Lady
· Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
· Alexander Payne, The Descendants
· Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Things can shift at any moment — or perhaps a better way to say that is PERCEPTIONS can shift. The race itself doesn’t shift because it always depends on what voters like best. But general perceptions can shift, especially now with the festival season taking off and more and more early reviews coming out than ever before.

Very few Oscar pundits are out on a limb this year with their predictions. After a while, it seems a little pointless to build a chart where everyone is predicting exactly the same thing. We might as well have one list. But there are some risky choices that may or may not pay off. And those are:

Anne Thompson, Thelma Adams, Anthony Breznican and Pete Hammond saying Annette Bening will win Best Actress
Kevin Polowy likes to take chances so he has Jacki Weaver for Best Supporting Actress
Keith Simanton has Inception to win Best Picture.
Katey Rich and I are predicting Waste Land to win Documentary – a total longshot.
Jeff Wells, Ryan Adams, Kevin Polowy, Richard Roeper and I are predicting The Social Network with Fincher to win Pic and Director – but one would have to be a blind fool to actually predict anything but The King’s Speech to win Best Picture. It really and truly cannot lose.

Today is the last day of balloting. By now, those who hold the key to Oscar history will have turned in their ballots, checking off those they like best. Pause to remember Sally Field’s acceptance speech (at this moment, you like me), and Luis Bu√±uel’s rejection of the whole thing (“Nothing would disgust me more morally than receiving an Oscar. Nothing in the world would make me go accept it. I wouldn‚Äôt have it in my home.”) ¬†It’s either a game or it means something. ¬†It is probably somewhere in between. ¬†I’ll give you my answer next Monday.

There will be voting stragglers, sure, but they’re probably the types who will vote for a Ralph Nader rather than a John Kerry or a George Bush. Or worse still, a Dennis Kucinich. No one is going to demand a vote count, and if things goes as predicted by the majority of the pundits, The King’s Speech with its fully loaded 12 nominations, its DGA win, and its Weinstein; it seems poised to collect, at the very least, Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. But probably also Best Director and a few of the tech awards.

Given the vast amount of early awards and rave reviews The Social Network got, and given the simple fact that The King’s Speech did not pick up the Eddie, as it would have done if this was a sweep-like scenario, there is more than enough reason to think that it could go either way. ¬†It is, by no means, a done deal. ¬†What gives TKS the edge is of course its DGA win plus the most nominations. ¬†By my calculations, Reds is the only film in all of Oscar history to have 12 ¬†and the DGA and lose Best Picture, which it did in an 11th hour shocker.

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We are compiling them little by little, bit by bit. We will be adding more, changing, altering, taking away.  But so far, this is what we have in the preliminary stages.  Thanks to Marshall Flores for helping to gather the data and put it into spreadsheets.

There is much left to do on it so be kind, rewind.


Both the Gurus of Gold and Tom O’Neil’s Gold Derby have been assembling predictions. ¬†We will be building our Big Fat Predictions chart some time today. ¬†The interesting thing to note is that, while most of the predictors are predicting a split between The King’s Speech for Picture (seems all but a certainty) and a win for David Fincher for The Social Network – has there ever been a case where a respectable director swept the critics awards but lost the DGA then won the Oscar? ¬†I don’t think so. ¬†They are not in the business of doing anyone favors, as we’ve seen throughout their 83 year history. ¬†It’s more likely it will be The King’s Speech and Hooper, as Kris Tapley is predicting. ¬†Tapley is also predicting The King’s Speech to win in editing, which would definitely indicate a sweep. ¬†Anne Thompson is going out on a limb with two of her predictions – the first is Annette Bening for Best Actress and the second is Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech.

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Ebert has put both his predictions (thanks Ryan) and his Outguess Ebert contest online. ¬†I think there are more than a few smarty pants Oscar watchers out there who could make this a fair fight (“not unless we get out and swim”). ¬†GO FOR IT. ¬†In his predictions, Ebert goes for The King’s Speech to win — but makes a subtle, effective play for you-know-what:

If I were still doing ‚ÄúIf We Picked the Winners‚Äù with Gene Siskel, my preference for best film would be ‚ÄúThe Social Network.‚Äù It was not only the best film of 2010, but also one of those films that helps define a year. It became the presumed front-runner on the day it opened, but then it seemed to fade. Oscars often go to movies that open after Thanksgiving. It’s called the Persistence of Memory Effect.

There’s another factor. A lot of academy voters don’t choose the ‚Äúbest‚Äù in some categories, but ‚Äúthe most advantageous for the movie industry.‚Äù Hollywood churns out violent crap every weekend and then puts on a nice face by supporting a respectable picture at Oscar time. I mean that not as a criticism of ‚ÄúThe King’s Speech,‚Äù which is a terrific film, but as an observation. A British historical drama about a brave man struggling to overcome a disability and then leading his people into World War II looks better to the academy than a cutting-edge portrait of hyperactive nerds.

Worth noting: Ebert and David Carr were the only two I know of who accurately predicted (and famously predicted) the Crash upset.

Ebert’s other predictions:
Actor: Firth
Actress: Portman
Supporting Actor: Rush
Supporting Actress:  Steinfeld
Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech
Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Foreign Language: Incendies
Animated: Toy Story 3
Doc: Inside Job
Cinematography: Deakins

The rest from Ebert are here.

People are taking sides. ¬†Fans, voters, bloggers. ¬†What’s an Oscar watcher to do?

The way this year is going to go seems all but a certainty: a King’s Speech near-sweep. It’s time to take a look at what rivals may yet challenge The King’s Speech in the various categories, and what some of the most emotionally divisive races are. First, we have to wonder why we take sides on films at all. ¬†The answer: because we do. ¬†What we like defines who we are. ¬†We want what we like to win because maybe that validates it somehow.

Having said that, what are the more contentious races this year?

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A few of us are just having some fun with the race by sticking by The Social Network. ¬†My advice to you, Oscar watchers, though: do not try this at home. ¬†There isn’t a single thing about The King’s Speech to make anyone doubt its dominance. ¬†I do believe it will sweep many of the major awards. ¬†At some point, though, being yet one more person predicting the exact same thing as everyone else is as useless as being the one person who goes against the grain. ¬†Rather than switch my prediction officially to the King’s Speech, I’m sticking with what I think is the best and most deserving film of the year, whether the Academy agrees or not (they won’t). In the meantime, our contender tracker offers up our objective, less subjective, take on the race.

Check out Gold Derby’s long list of who’s predicting what.

At the awards ceremony for The National Board of Review Tuesday night, The Huffington Post asks Michelle Williams, Aaron Sorkin and Armie Hammer, Blake Lively, Sofia Coppola, M. Night Shyamalan and Hailee Steinfeld about their own expectations during awards season.

Winter’s Bone is a film that is coming on very strong here in the critics phase. I like how Guy Lodge is the only one predicting it to win the LA Film Critics over at Gold Derby. I think that is a spot-on prediction, and if I wasn’t already married to the idea that Toy Story 3 would win that prize I’d switch it to Winter’s Bone.¬† You can check them out for yourself. What I wonder is how much predictions themselves can influence a vote. I’ve always wondered that. If someone said to you they knew you would vote for The Social Network as the best film of 2010, would you want to prove them wrong? Or would you agree that, yes, you can’t deny that plain fact and cast your vote accordingly. Do you vote for what you love even if it’s so far off the charts it will ultimately count as a throw-away vote? Or do you cast your vote for a film you know has a good chance of winning? Ah, the nature of we humans and how we vote. I do not know the answer to this one. But I do know that no one likes being a foregone conclusion; no one particularly likes being predictable.

We are all eagerly awaiting the left and right coasts ringing in, along with the National Society. We will be running our own predictions some time today, or tomorrow. But so far, here is how many a folk believe the Best Picture races will go down:


“The Social Network” ‚Äì Davis, Feinberg, Rogers, Simanton, Tapley, Walton, Wloszczyna
“Toy Story 3” ‚Äì Hammond, Musto, O’Neil, Stone
Black Swan” or “Social Network” ‚Äì Wells
“Winter’s Bone” — Lodge


“Black Swan” — Simanton
“The King’s Speech” ‚Äì Wloszczyna
“The Social Network” ‚Äì Davis, Feinberg, Hammond, Lodge, Musto, O’Neil, Rogers, Stone, Tapley, Walton
“The Social Network” or “Black Swan” ‚Äì Wells

Head on over to Gold Derby for the rest.


Tom O’Neil queried a new group of folks to get their answers. Some of them are surprising, most continue the party line. Starting with Best Picture, he asked Tim Appelo (Hollywood Reporter), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Kevin Polowy (NextMovie), Keith Simanton (IMDB), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood, Indie Wire) and Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today):

I am only showing the top five here. You can head on over to Gold Derby to see the full list. You gotta love Keith for totally going against the grain. I love it that he has Biutiful on his top ten, even his top five!

Best Director after the cut.

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