Leading man ... Ben Affleck at the SAG Awards this week. Photo: Reuters
IN THE most open best picture race at the Oscars in years, the momentum seems to have shifted towards Argo.
The surprising one-two combination of Ben Affleck's political thriller winning best picture from the Producers Guild of America then best ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards has changed the opinions of many Hollywood pundits about the likely winner at the Academy Awards next month.
The Gold Derby website, which tracks Hollywood film and television awards, reports that a poll of 25 ''Oscarologists'' from such publications as USA Today, Deadline Hollywood and The Los Angeles Times indicates Argo is now clear favourite.
Last week, 13 pundits predicted a win for Steven Spielberg's presidential biopic Lincoln, 11 favoured Argo and one went for the poignant comedy Silver Linings Playbook. But after the weekend, 22 say Argo will win with only three sticking with Lincoln.
Lincoln has been considered favourite since leading the Oscar nominations with 12.
While Argo has seven nominations, its best picture chances were seemingly damaged by Affleck missing a best director nod. Only one movie in the past 80 years has won the top Oscar without a directing nomination.
Bookmakers around the world are divided on whether Lincoln or Argo is now favourite but they are both well ahead of Les Miserables, Life Of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Django Unchained.