The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil hasn’t joined the Babel club (he’s a confirmed Departed supporter), but in an article called “Babel Rising” he says he’s hearing more and more that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s film will take the Best Picture Oscar.

“I don’t understand why everybody’s saying the best picture race is between The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine,” an Oscar voter “fumed” to O’Neil the other day. “I voted for Babel and I know a lot of other academy members who did, too!”

“Over the past week, while chatting with lots of academy members and other Hollywood insiders, I’ve kept track of all of the alleged votes I’ve heard about,” Tom explains. “Practically everybody in town does the same thing, too, and they eagerly share their tallies with you in intense Oscar huddles that occur at Seven-Elevens, at the Starbucks, at Ralph’s supermarket, at the endless stream of award shows (oh, will these guild kudos galas ever end?).

“The problem is [that you] don’t know who to believe because they all have their own movies they’re secretly rooting for — films they have loyalties to, via work or personal connections — and they’re probably tipping the scales for their own choice when they tattle to you. The surprising thing that keeps popping up consistently: how strong the vote is for Babel.

“Beware: as tantalizing as it may seem to jump now onto an imagined Babel bandwagon, remember this: it may be a phantom bandwagon created in a town populated with professional fibbers. Babel has won no guild awards. If it had, that would point to obvious industry support, considering that nearly all Oscar voters belong to the showbiz guilds (but not vice versa — the guilds have thousands of additional members). In a separate posting, I will explain why I’m sticking with Departed for best pic.”