Gold Derby Oscarologists favor unseen ‘War Horse’ for Best Picture

The Gold Derby Oscarologists are going out on a limb for Steven Spielberg‘s unseen “War Horse” in the Best Picture race. The Christmas Day release has 15-to-8 racetrack odds. Close behind it is Alexander Payne‘s “The Descendants” with 10-to-3 chances. The experts’ full Best Picture predictions can be viewed here.


Only a couple trailers have been unveiled for “War Horse” and there is little advance word on the film itself. The Experts may be banking on the pedigree of Spielberg’s name. That seems iffy since he has only directed one Best Picture winner — “Schindler’s List” in 1993. He has helmed six Best Picture nominees: “Jaws” (1975), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “E.T.” (1982), “The Color Purple” (1985), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “Munich” (2005).

“War Horse” is based on the children’s book that inspired last season’s Tony-winning play of the same name. The sentimental subject matter could bring out Spielberg’s worst tendencies as a director; remember his sappy “Always” (1989) was a commercial and critical failure.

Nevertheless, nine experts consider his wildcard film the frontrunner, including Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Scott Feinberg (Hollywood Reporter), Tariq Khan (Fox News), Kevin Lewin (WENN), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), S.T. VanAirsdale (Movieline), and Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil and Paul Sheehan.

Eight experts give votes of confidence to “The Descendants,” including Thelma Adams (, Kyle Buchanan (Vulture), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Steve Pond (The Wrap), Keith Simanton (IMDb), Anne Thompson (Thompson on Hollywood), Chuck Walton (Fandango), and Susan Wloszcyna (USA Today). 

That comedy-drama may be cursed by its star George Clooney. The Academy nominated his “Good Night, and Good Luck” for six Oscars in 2005 including Best Picture, but it won nothing. He has since starred in two other Best Picture nominees — “Michael Clayton” (2007), which only won Supporting Actress for Tilda Swinton, and “Up in the Air” (2009) which lost all its bids.

While “The Descendants” could rack up nominations, Clooney could potentially split the votes since his directorial effort “The Ides of March” — in which he plays a supporting role — is also in the mix. Though conventional wisdom holds that the Academy loves Clooney, that has not historically translated to big wins. His co-star Shaleine Woodley, who has this film’s biggest crying scene (one that is significantly not undercut by any misplaced stabs at humor), is probably the biggest threat for a consolation win by “The Descendants.”

The Gold Derby Editors have similarly mixed opinions of what will win Best Picture. Chris Beachum and Andrew Pickett hold that “War Horse” will be victorious, along with 24% of Gold Derby users. Rob Licuria supports “The Descendants” and so do 9% of our users. See the Editors’ full rankings here.

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There is also a showing of support for the gimmicky, mostly-silent film “The Artist.” Experts Dave Karger (Entertainment Weekly), Guy Lodge (In Contention), Kevin Polowy (NextMovie), and Gold Derby editor Daniel Montgomery and 7% of users concur.

Expert Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) and Gold Derby editor Adam Waldowski are betting on Stephen Daldry‘s 9/11 drama “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” which stars Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks. Six percent of users have the film in first place.

The full breakdown of Experts, Editors, and Users predictions can be found here.

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