Oscars 2012: Too Close to Call?

Days before the Academy Awards, it's still not clear who will come out on top.

February 20, 2012, 2:13 PM

Feb. 21, 2012— -- Blame it on the expanded best picture race, on the films themselves or on the guilds that honored a variety of movies: This year's Oscar race is still too close to call.

"There is a little tension going into Sunday," Yahoo! Movies contributing editor Thelma Adams told ABCNews.com. "Here we are six days out, and I know who I should be saying is in the lead, and then I think there is still a little bit of mystery left."

ABC News' Oscars Stock Market Index, a collaboration with Bluefin Labs, which provides a real-time snapshot of social sentiment, what's trending and the collective assessment of entertainment industry experts, shows just how much uncertainty there is going into Sunday's ceremony.

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As of Monday, "Moneyball" had gained 30 percent to top the best picture race, with "The Artist" and "The Descendants" nearly tied for second place.


"It's so muddled now," E! Online columnist Ted Casablanca told ABCNews.com. "I have no idea who's going to win this year, and I usually know by now."

Ballots from Academy voters are due at 5 p.m. PT today. But the winners won't be announced until the ceremony Feb. 26.

"You feel like it's a done deal, and then you're surprised, like at that moment at the Screen Actors Guild Awards when Jean Dujardin won and we all thought it would be George Clooney," Adams said.

At the final guild awards before Sunday's Oscars ceremony, "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris" got a boost but not the presumed front-runner "The Artist."

The black-and-white, mostly silent homage to the era before "talkies" was excluded from last Sunday's Writer's Guild Awards because its writers are French. Instead, Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," another film set in the 1920s, won for best original screenplay, while "The Descendants" earned the trophy for best adapted screenplay.

Earlier in the year, the producers guild gave "The Artist" their top prize, while the film's director, Michel Hazanavicius, was hailed as the year's best by the directors guild.

On ABC News' Oscars Stock Market Index, Hazanavicius overtook the lead from "Hugo" director Martin Scorsese after he took a 12 percent dive, while Alexander Payne, who directed "The Descendants," was slowly gaining.

"These front races are so close," Adams said, "there is a little wiggle room."

Also on the index, "Descendants" star George Clooney seemed to be hanging on to the lead in the best actor category, while his pal Brad Pitt showed the biggest jump and was edging close to second place's Jean Dujardin from "The Artist."

"Iron Lady" Meryl Streep was keeping her lock on the best actress race, but "My Week With Marilyn" star Michelle Williams and Viola Davis, star of "The Help," were closing the gap.

"The issue is how much people love 'The Help' versus 'The Iron Lady,'" said Adams, believing the race is between Davis and Streep.

Supporting actor Christopher Plummer and supporting actress Octavia Spencer were still holding onto the lead in their respective categories on the index.

Ultimately, the winners will be decided by the nearly 6,000 Academy members, which, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times, are overwhelmingly white and male, with a median age of 62.

While the figures are representative of the people who make films, they hardly reflect the people who watch them.

"Is most of commercial narrative filmmaking the product of mostly white men? Sadly, the answer is yes," "Descendants" director Payne told the Times.

Denzel Washington, who won an Oscar for "Training Day," suggested opening up the membership to "balance" it. "If the country is 12 percent black, make the Academy 12 percent black," Washington said, while admitting at a recent screening that his wife actually does the voting for him.

But Adams thinks that would be the wrong move.

"The Academy and the Oscars -- no one ever thought it was a democracy. That's the People's Choice awards," she said. "In time and slowly it will evolve. And inside that group, there are some people who are voting from their heart and the pure love of movies, like Mother Dolores Hart, a white nun (who once starred in films with Elvis). They are not voting as a block. There's still a little mystery."

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