Hollywood Reporter award-season tracker Scott Feinberg saw Moneyball yesterday and is now calling Bennett Miller‘s film the TIFF premiere that “got the biggest awards boost by far,” particularly concerning Brad Pitt‘s shot at a Best Actor Oscar. The Pitt thing is unquestionable, as far as I can see. I’m betting this will become accepted doctrine when Moneyball opens on 9.23.

Believe it or not a fellow columnist was declaring a couple of days ago that Pitt will be Best Actor nominated for his performance in The Tree of Life with Moneyball acting as backup. Nope. People vote for the character as well as the performance, and as good and forceful as he is in Terrence Malick‘s film, nobody is going to vote for Pitt’s unhappy and frustrated child-swatting dad with the Marine haircut. Not against the lovable, driven, occasionally pissed-off Billy Beane who can’t stop worshipping his daughter.

Feinberg believes, in fact, that the race might boil down to Pitt vs. Leonardo DiCaprio as Gay Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood‘s film. Non-vested “people” who’ve seen J. Edgar have told Feinberg, he says, that Leo’s performance “will be very hard to beat.” Maybe so, but right now I see the Best Actor race as a three-way between Pitt, Leo and George Clooney in The Descendants…with the edge, I feel, belonging to Clooney because of the affecting father-daughter current in Alexander Payne ‘s film.

At the end of the day, in fact, the double dose of father-daughter connections in The Descendants and Moneyball will, I believe, make it difficult for DiCaprio to win. Leo is playing, after all, a bulldog hardass with a pinched spirit — a man who lived only for his FBI fiefdom and who never had kids or any real love in his life, and who wasn’t especially acknowledging of the bond between himself and his loyal lifelong friend-and-partner Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer).

Again — people vote for the characters and not just the craft that went into making them come alive. Yeah, I know — how does that explain malevolent Mo’Nique winning for Precious?