21 December 2012 10:03 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The ballots are out and the betting is competitive but Ben Affleck – and Alan Arkin – have the biggest award of all sewn up

I have a friend, a Hollywood producer, who calls me up every week or so and leaves the following message in a conspiratorial, Deep-Throatish voice: "I am now in a position to tell you the winner of this year's best-picture Oscar."

It's a joke. Each week I call back and he tells me a different film. Except that unlike that last film we decided on as this year's best picture – what were we thinking? – this new one is absolutely, positively going to win. No doubt. Sweep the board. A winner through and through. At least until next week.

Frankly, it's the only way to deal with an Oscar race that seems to consist, at times, entirely of frontrunners. It's the most competitive race in years – a "barn-burner »

- Tom Shone

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