David Poland isn’t saying True Grit is beginning to pose a strong threat to The Social Network‘s presumed dominance as a Best Picture favorite. He isn’t saying it’s elbowed aside The King’s Speech and/or The Fighter to become TSN‘s main challenger. He isn’t saying it’s now poised to overtake TSN. He’s saying True Grit “has muscled its way into the frontrunner slot to win Best Picture.”

Because, you know, he’s been talking about Grit‘s Best Picture inevitability for a while now but primarily because the gnarly Coen brothers western is expected to make $90 million domestic by the end of the holidays.

Poland needs an “anything but The Social Network” movie to champion, and he’s given up on The King’s Speech‘s ability to stay the course (as well as the other alternate contenders) and True Grit‘s surprisingly strong revenues have convinced him that this is the horse to ride. That’s all that’s going on here. Poland being Poland and attempting a last-ditch TSN takedown.

This will be the second time during the 2010 Oscar season that the Poland Curse has struck, the first being when MCN’s founding rabbi stuck a shiv into Mark Romanek‘s Never Let Me Go by calling it “a masterpiece…smart and demanding and emotional and rigorous and profoundly artful.” That, as most of us instantly knew, was the end of that. And now True Grit, its Best Picture chances almost certainly diminished by this.

True Grit‘s box-office may well result in a Best Picture nomination along with a Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay nom for the Coens, and possibly even a Best Director acting nomination for Jeff Bridges (“arrrrghh gaahrrr muuhrrrarrg”). But as Coming Soon‘s Ed Douglas wrote this morning, Grit “will lose screenplay to TSN‘s Aaron Sorkin and directing probably to David Fincher and acting to Colin Firth…its best bet right now is to finally give Roger Deakins his much-dserved cinematography Oscar.”

In Contention‘s Kris Tapley has also noted that True Grit hasn’t much hope on the Best Picture front Not “without a SAG ensemble nod…tough one to overcome.”

The best response to Poland’s piece came from “Loyal” at 10: 29 am: “I think a more likely scenario is that True Grit‘s financial success splinters the ‘I like this film more than The Social Network‘ vote even further and actually helps The Social Network win. You now have the Black Swan camp and the Toy Story 3 camp and the Inception camp and The King’s Speech camp and the True Grit camp all vying for the same piece of the pie and trying to topple The Social Network. It far easier to chose between two films than it is six films.”