Usually, the Oscar race for Best Picture involves two films jockeying for the lead -- like "The King's Speech" vs. "The Social Network" (2010) or "The Hurt Locker" vs. "Avatar" (2009). However, this derby season has been extraordinary -- four films have moved in and out of the front position six times.
"Silver Linings Playbook" initially broke out of the pack at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, then "Les Miserables" leapt ahead in mid-October after word spread that audiences went wild for it at a secret test screening in Hollywood. A week later, "Argo" opened and quickly grabbed the lead thanks to boffo b.o. and huzzahs from film critics -- and there it remained for more than a month.
That is, up until "Les Miserables" was finally shown to Hollywood industry insiders, who greeted it with cheers, tears and loud applause. To the vast crowd who first saw it at Grauman's Chinese Theater in late November, "Les Miz" seemed to live up to its early promise. Most of Gold Derby's Oscar pundits were in attendance and they rushed home afterward to shove it back into the frontrunner position now that they'd finally seen it.
But that was before the macho bullies emerged and started pummeling "Les Miz" into saw dust. Our Oscarologists abandoned it within three weeks. Then "Lincoln" surged ahead after it snagged the most nominations from the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice Awards.
"Lincoln" remained in the lead until "Argo" bagged the Golden Globe and Producers' Guild of America Award. It's remained the frontrunner thereafter.