Jennifer Lawrence started this Oscar season as the overwhelming favorite to win Best Actress for her work in "Silver Linings Playbook." But since "Zero Dark Thirty" started to screen for the press earlier this month, Jessica Chastain has made a steady climb up the ranks and is now thisclose. Lawrence still leads with odds of 2 to 1 but Chastain is right behind with odds of 9 to 4.
Lawrence had the backing of 21 Experts on Dec. 1 while Chastain could only count on two of them to predict her to prevail. On Dec. 3, they tied in the third round of voting by the New York Film Critics Circle. Because of the quirks of those kudos, the winner ended being compromise candidate Rachel Weisz "The Deep Blue Sea"). Two days later, Chastain won Best Actress from the National Board of Review. Lawrence came back to tie with Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour") when the LA film critics announced their winners on Dec. 9.
Last week, both Lawrence and Chastain reaped bids for a trifecta of prizes: Critics' Choice, SAG and Golden Globes. Marion Cotillard ("Rust and Bone") and Naomi Watts ("The Impossible") also picked up noms from all three kudos and both make the final five according to our Experts (see their full rankings here).
Lawrence is still predicted to prevail by 16 Experts: Scott Feinberg (THR), Pete Hammond (Deadline Hollywood), Richard Horgan (MediaBistro), Dave Karger (Fandango), Guy Lodge (InContention), Sean O'Connell (Hollywood News), Tom O'Neil (Gold Derby), Kevin Polowy (Next Movie), Steve Pond (The Wrap), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Richard Rushfield (BuzzFeed), Alex Suskind (Moviefone), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone), Chuck Walton (Fandango), Jeff Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere) and Glenn Whipp (LA Times).
Chastain is the choice of 11 pundits: Thelma Adams (Yahoo), Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes), Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Thom Geier (Entertainment Weekly), Michael Hogan (Huffington Post), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood) and Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today).
Chastain is getting a big boost from the strong showing by her film. "Zero Dark Thirty" won over the Gotham critics and the National Board of Review. And it is getting rave reviews, currently rated a jaw-dropping 95 at Metacritic, based on 26 notices. Compare that to a score of 81 for "Silver Linings" as determined by 45 critics.
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Below, meet our past winners of recent award prediction contests.
Oscar Nominations: New York state resident Tim Kressner (gufa54) won $1,000 for reaping the highest percentage (78%) when predicting Academy Award noms. Watch our video chat with him here and learn his strategy for making picks. See the leaderboard here. See Kressner's predix here.
Golden Globes (Film): Mario Gomez, a med studen in Mexico, won our contest with the highest percentage of correct picks (86%) and highest point score (2,693). See our video chat with him here. Two other contestants also scored 86%: lulo1989 and eastwest. Tom O'Neil reaped best Experts' score. David Schnelwar had top score among our Editors. See the leaderboard here to see if you made the top tier.
Critics Choice Nominations: Bryce H scored an impressive 83% when sizing up 20 categories. That was one percentage point ahead of our smartest Editor, Daniel Montgomery. Our top Expert was also one of our Editors, Paul Sheehan, who reaped 74%. To see how you performed, check out our leaderboard plus the score section of your account page.
Golden Globe (Film) Nominations: Jonathan was our top User, reaping a staggering 86% when forecasting the lineup of 10 categories. That put him six percentage points ahead of our best Expert -- Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) -- and eight ahead of our leading Editor, Daniel Montogomery. Did you made the cut on the leaderboard score breakdown?
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Winners: Christian aced all rivals, scoring 82%. That was almost 20 percentage points ahead of our top Expert (Edward Douglas of ComingSoon ) and Editor (Matt Noble), both of whom earned scores of 64%. Christian foresaw that surprise screenplay win for "Before Midnight." See leaderboard.