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Oscar derby update: Buzzmeter experts clash over 'Avatar,' 'The Hurt Locker' and 'Inglourious Basterds'

February 11, 2010 |  2:02 pm

"Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" may be tied with the most Academy Award nominations (nine), but most of The Envelope's Buzzmeter pundits believe "Avatar" is ahead to win best picture.

Of our 21 Oscar oracles, 11 pick "Avatar" — Erik Davis (Cinematical), Edward Douglas (Coming Soon), Greg Ellwood (Hit Fix), Paul Gaita (The Circuit, The Envelope), Peter Howell (Toronto Star), Lou Lumenick (New York Post), Michael Musto (Village Voice), Mark Olsen (The Envelope), Steve Pond (The Odds, The Wrap), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood Elsewhere).

Avatar Oscars The Hurt Locker Academy Awards news

Nine foresee a top win for "The Hurt Locker": Brad Brevet (Rope of Silicon), Scott Feinberg (And the Winner Is), Marshall Fine (Star Magazine, Hollywood & Fine), Pete Hammond (Notes on a Season, The Envelope), Dave Karger (Entertainment Weekly), Kevin Lewin (World Entertainment News Network), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily), Susan Wloszczyna (USA Today) and me. There's one backer of "Inglourious Basterds": Jeff Goldsmith (Creative Screenwriting).

I've been warning you about that devilish "Inglourious Basterds" all derby season. While I'm currently predicting "Hurt Locker," I still believe "Basterds" can pull off the big win thanks to that wily preferential ballot. But also thanks to other key factors like the hefty push studio boss Harvey Weinstein is giving it now. Don't write Harvey off. Remember how his "Shakespeare in Love" toppled seemingly invincible war flick "Saving Private Ryan"? Now Harvey warns Pete Hammond, "We're gonna win this thing!" Read Pete's intriguing full report of how shrewdly "Basterds" is building momentum here.

Now that the mysterious preferential ballot is en route to those notoriously eccentric, contrary-minded voters, let's see how they will fill it out. Lucky for us, they'll quickly blab to us after they do so, but don't expect them to do so soon. Voters are so befuddled by the new voting procedure that they'll probably fill out the final ballot late, just like they did with the nomination ballot.

There's clear consensus among Buzzmeter pundits that the following Oscar races are over: director (Kathryn Bigelow), lead actor (Jeff Bridges), supporting actor (Christoph Waltz), supporting actress (Mo'Nique), adapted screenplay ("Up in the Air").

However, there's still much suspense over which film will prevail in the race for original screenplay. Out of our 21 pundits, 14 predict "Inglourious Basterds" and seven opt for "The Hurt Locker."

Curiously, that's the same split numerically at the Buzzmeter over pundits predicting who will win best actress: 14 say Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") and seven say Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia"). However, it's a mistake to assume Bullock has this in the bag. I know many Oscar voters who passionately rally behind Streep, and she trounced Bullock in our poll asking Gold Derby readers who will win: Streep (57%) versus Bullock (36%).

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Oscar experts agree: Jeff Bridges will win best actor

Photos: "Avatar" (20th Century Fox), "The Hurt Locker" (Summit), "Inglourious Basterds" (Weinstein Co.)

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