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Oscars mystery: Why isn't Natalie Portman considered a shoo-in to win?

February 21, 2011 | 12:33 pm

"Why isn't Natalie Portman considered a lock?" asks our forums moderator David "Guru" Schnelwar about her Oscar chances to win lead actress. He dug up research about past award patterns that suggests the odds are overwhelmingly in her favor.

Black swan 11Portman ("Black Swan") and Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") have won all of these awards this derby season: Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Critics' Choice and BAFTA. With only one exception, all actors who have pulled off that feat in the past went on to bag the Oscar next. However, some notable gurus, such as our Buzzmeter pundits Anne Thompson and Peter Travers, are nonetheless betting on Annette Bening ("The Kids Are All Right") to prevail.

The only star who didn't win the Oscar after sweeping those precursor prizes: Russell Crowe ("A Beautiful Mind"). He probably would've won the Academy Award too, but he lost the sympathy of voters when he lost his temper and attacked a BAFTA producer, thus throwing the lead actor race to Denzel Washington ("Training Day").

Portman has behaved most graciously throughout this awards season, of course, but there are several good reasons why she could be tripped up by Bening, who is: 1) a three-time past loser overdue to win; 2) a member of the academy's Board of Governors; 3) a heterosexual star who plays gay, which earned Oscar gold for Sean Penn ("Milk") and Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia").

Below: The actors who swept their awards season by winning the Oscar, Golden Globe, Critics' Choice, SAG and BAFTA Awards.

1996 - Geoffrey Rush, "Shine"
2004 - Jamie Foxx, "Ray"
2005 - Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"
2006 - Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"
2007 - Daniel Day Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"

2007 - Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
2008 - Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"
2009 - Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"

2000 - Julia Roberts, "Erin Brockovich"
2005 - Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line"
2006 - Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
2008 - Kate Winslet, "The Reader"

2003 - Renee Zellweger, "Cold Mountain"
2006 - Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
2009 - Mo'Nique, "Precious"

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: A scene from "Black Swan."  Credit: Fox Searchlight