Theoretically, "Lincoln" should be a shoo-in to prevail. It leads with the most nominations (12), which usually translates into Best Picture victory and it has one key bid that "Argo" lacks: Best Director. Normally, absence from that category spells doom for the film's hope of snagging the top Oscar, but the snub could actually work in Ben Affleck's favor if Hollywood rallies behind his film in sympathy. "Argo" is suddenly getting a lot of kudos love. It recently won Best Picture and Director at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards where "Lincoln" led with the most nominations.
The battle over Best Actress is also competitive with Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playback") slightly ahead with the votes of 14 experts who give her 2-to-1 racetrack odds. But Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty") is close behind with 8 pundits giving her 13-to-5 odds. Both stars recently won Golden Globes and gave impressive acceptance speeches. Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour") and Naomi Watts ("The Impossible") have the support of one pundit apiece.
Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln") has a significant lead in the race for Best Supporting Actor with 13 gurus giving him 21-to-10 odds, but eight gurus predict Robert De Niro ("Silver Linings Playbook") with prevail, two say it will be Christoph Waltz ("Django Unchained") and two pick Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master").