Obviously there are two competing Oscar handicapper gangs taking shape — one at Tom O’Neil‘s “The Envelope” (expect at least 12 journos when it’s all finalized) and the return of Gurus of Gold (roughly 80% in place) at David Poland‘s Movie City News.
The Times rule is that you can’t be an “Envelope” team member plus a Poland Guru. I know there’s been some soul-searching among journos about whether to side with the Hatfields or the McCoys, and I for one have heard the crack of rifle fire over issues of alleged guru-poaching.
I know this: it’s not “early” in the Oscar handicapping racket. It’s all happening right now, fast and furious.
Just yesterday I heard uh-ohs about three big December releases, and once these stories begin to travel the films in question — I’m not going to name them — will see their stock prices begin to drop. All of this could easily fall by the wayside once they start to screen, but right now it’s starting to look as if these three now have something to prove.
The game will basically be over as of early to mid November, and from then on everyone will be just dancing. The chances of a late November or early December surprise seem slim at this stage.
O’Neill is currently working on a comprehensive choices-at-a-glance chart, and it’ll be in place fairly soon. Poland posted a Gurus chart today but I’m told that at last one respondent’s choices are about three weeks old, so it’s not exactly expressing the immediate current.
That said, the Best Picture tally has Dreamgirls slightly ahead of Flags of Our Fathers with Babel a somewhat distant (20 points behind) third.
The Best Actor race — this is a fairly early call — has The Last King of Scotland‘s Forrest Whitaker almost 20 points ahead of Venus star Peter O’Toole, and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed…nobody’s seen Blood Diamond yet) trailing in third place.
And the Best Actress race has The Queen‘s Helen Mirren well in front of three runner-ups — Volver‘s Penelope Cruz, Little Children‘s Kate Winslet and The Devil Wears Prada‘s Meryl Streep — with very nearly the same scores.