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.
Earliest Oscars Predictions Ever
Our Oscarologists are busy updating their predictions as they see more and more contenders. Make your early picks now -- click here -- and change them later as the derby heats up.