'Tis time to track this race up close by powwowing with the experts. Here, in this video, I recruit the insights of HuffPo's gurus Michael Hogan and Christopher Rosen. You can see their Best Pic predix stacked up with other Oscarologists here and also view their predix in all categories by clicking these links: Hogan's predix, Rosen's rundown and mine.
Right now, Hogan and Rosen are betting on "Argo"; I'm riding "Les Miz."
"'Argo' has got a lot of different facets going for it," Rosen notes, citing "Ben Affleck's comeback as a narrative and being an actor-turned-director, which has worked in the past for actors like Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood."
"The movie is also a big wet kiss to Hollywood," Hogan adds, referring to its story line of moviemakers rescuing U.S. hostages from Iran. "It's full of gentle joking that flatters the community. He put together a movie that has a brain but also has a pulse."
I believe "Les Miserables" is out front because it's probably going to deliver the biggest emotional wallop of all top contenders, but beware: it's not going to be cool. Often that matters on the Oscar track where the winner needs a strong Rooting Factor. However, let's recall that there wasn't anything hip about "The King's Speech," which prevailed because of its strong emotional tug.
"It's a little early to say whether 'Les Miz' is going to be embarrassing or awesome or both," Hogan says. "I think 'Zero Dark Thirty' as a serious chance to come in and have a serious Cool Factor."
Ditto for "Django Unchained." Even suggesting the idea that it could win Best Picture whips Hogan into a tizzy: "I would love it if that happened!" Talk about rooting factor!