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New Oscar Predictions Strongly Favor 'Hurt Locker'

A few times this awards season, we've shown you the revised Oscar rundown by the so-called Gurus of Gold, a bunch of Hollywood writer types who contribute their thoughts on the subject to Movie City News. It's not a big shock to see The Hurt Locker in front, since it picked up the DGA and the PGA awards and tied Avatar for the most nominations, although you still see plenty of press about James Cameron's movie being the odds-on favorite. Here's how they rank as of this weekend:

It's fun to go back and look at how much this race has changed since the first chart was released in November. Avatar wasn't in the top ten back then, but it spent January all alone at the top. The Hurt Locker has been pretty consistently ranked in the top four or five, but it has strengthened its position as one of two legitimate options for about a month or so.

Whenever we bring up these charts, we remind you that the voters aren't in any way involved with the Academy Awards, so this is purely unofficial and not really scientific. But these rankings aren't coming completely out of the blue. They're informed, even if they don't turn out to be exactly correct. My gut tells me they are, at least until we hit Best Original Screenplay.

I think it would be a shame if, as the Gurus have voted, Inglourious Basterds doesn't win. You can see by the chart below that it's been overtaken by Mark Boal's Hurt Locker screenplay, which is excellent, as well, but I think it's more what Kathryn Bigelow does with that script that the way it reads. Tarantino's screenplay is just stupendous and full of life, so I hope it does pull out the victory.

I should also point out - and this piggybacks onto a previous discussion about "snubs" not really being snubs - that the Gurus cast their votes one - five and those are added up, with more weight given to first place votes. That's the way the Oscars do it, and you can tell from this example how a movie might come out on the losing end without much difference between itself and the winner. By virtue of two slightly lower votes, Basterds drops out of the top spot. Obviously, it will need more than that for the Oscars to turn out differently, but the premise is the same.

Incidentally, I think that's how it will play out for Avatar in the Best Picture race. There are sure to be many voters who feel it's the top movie of the year. But for those that don't - probably just as many - I have a hard time believing they'll put it in second place. You hear the same complaint over and over and over: The story. It didn't get a screenplay nomination, people who do find fault with it have pretty much the same reaction, and if Oscar voters are of the same mind, having a story that doesn't measure up will really hurt its chances.

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