George Clooney, 'The Artist' Are Odds-On Oscar Faves

We leave the Oscar odds up to the professionals, in Bigger Than the Sound.

My buddy Corey (this is him; and no, I'm not sure why he's standing like that either) doesn't watch movies because "they're a waste of time," which sort of explains why, A) he once told me his favorite film of all time was "American Beauty," and B) he owns the "Jackass" trilogy on DVD. For years, I made fun of him for all of those things, but now, well, I'm not so sure he wasn't onto something this entire time.

Because on Tuesday (January 24), when nominations for the 2012 Academy Awards were announced, I was left feeling very Corey. The two most-nominated films, "Hugo" and "The Artist," were also perhaps the most anachronistic (in that they are a love letter to a long-deceased French filmmaker/illusionist and a silent movie, respectively), a move that is sort of like the Grammys bestowing Album of the Year nods on wax cylinders and eight-tracks. Sentimental, sure, but, I mean, come on.

While I'll leave the business of snubs and surprises to the folks that know these things best, I found it rather interesting that, after talking to a bunch of my movie-loving co-workers, I quickly discovered that, among cineastes, the Oscars are sort of regarded much the same way die-hard music fans view the Grammys: They are, to say the very least, a slightly silly, thoroughly incomprehensible thing. And given this year's list of nominees, I'm inclined to agree with that assessment.

So given all that — not to mention the fact that my two favorite films of 2011, "Drive" and, uh, "Warrior" racked up a grand total of two nominations — you can understand why, when my editors told me they were looking for an Oscars odds column, I sort of panicked. Needless to say, I was not the expert they were looking for — thankfully, given my insatiable wagering addiction (DON'T CALL IT A "PROBLEM"), I know some folks who were.

So I reached out to the brain trust at — yes, that's a real Web address — who gave me the inside track on this year's Oscar favorites (which was incredibly nice, considering sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley told me "we are incredibly busy with the Super Bowl coming up"), and not surprisingly, they really think "The Artist" has the best chances. So here, straight from the pros themselves, are some Oscar odds. And for the record, Corey wasn't eligible to participate, as he didn't see a single nominated film this year. But he did want it to be known that he still finds the entire Academy Awards to be "stupid-ass." Some things never change.

Best Picture

"The Artist," 2/7

"The Descendants," 7/2

"Hugo," 10/1

"War Horse," 14/1

"The Help," 20/1

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," 30/1

"Moneyball," 30/1

"Midnight in Paris," 30/1

"The Tree of Life," 50/1

Best Actor

George Clooney, "The Descendants," 1/3

Jean Dujardin, "The Artist," 2/1

Brad Pitt, "Moneyball," 10/1

Gary Oldman, "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," 25/1

Demián Bichir, "A Better Life," 25/1

Best Actress

Meryl Streep, "The Iron Lady," 1/2

Michelle Williams, "My Week With Marilyn," 3/1

Viola Davis, "The Help," 3/1

Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs," 20/1

Rooney Mara, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," 20/1

Best Director

Michel Hazanavicius, "The Artist," 4/7

Martin Scorsese, "Hugo," 7/4

Alexander Payne, "The Descendants," 11/2

Woody Allen, "Midnight in Paris," 18/1

Terrence Malick, "The Tree of Life," 18/1

See the complete list of Academy Awards Nominations.