Oscar predictions: 'The King's Speech' ahead

More than a month before the Academy Awards nominations announcement on January 25 and prior to all the films opening in theaters, film experts are weighing in on the best bets for the Oscars and The King's Speech has the edge.

In the Best Picture category, The Kings Speech and The Social Network vie for the top spot, with the film starring Colin Firth as Great Britain's monarch taking the lead. So far, it won the British Independent Film Awards and Social Network took the National Review Board top prize.

A tally of 21 pundits' picks has been compiled by Gold Derby, a website tracking awards shows and formerly a blog in the Los Angeles Times.

The predictions are subject to change, depending on award events. Last year, Avatar was the favorite for the Best Picture Oscar when The Hurt Locker took the top prize. The latest racetrack odds are 6 to 5 for King's Speech, 8 to 5 for Social Network.

Colin Firth ( King's Speech) is the frontrunner for Best Actor against James Franco ( 127 Hours). Annette Bening ( The Kids Are All Right) and Natalie Portman ( Black Swan) are in a dead heat for Best Actress.

Best Supporting Actor finds Christian Bale ( The Fighter) taking the edge from Geoffrey Rush ( King's Speech). For Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo ( The Fighter) is ahead of Helena Bonham Carter ( King's Speech).

The films with the most votes include The King's Speech, True Grit and The Fighter - each with four nods. Other films in two categories each are 127 Hours, Winter Bone, The Kids Are All Right, and The Social Network.

The forecasters include entertainment reporters, columnists and film critics from The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, Deadline Hollywood, New York magazine, Entertainment Weekly, US Weekly, USA Today, LA Times, Reuters, and movie blogs such as Cinematical.

As of the week of December 5, these are the predictions for the Oscar race. The list for Best Picture includes the racetrack odds.

Best Picture:
The King's Speech (6/5)
The Social Network (8/5)
Inception (18/1)
Toy Story 3 (20/1)
Black Swan (21/1)
127 Hours (28/1)
True Grit (40/1)
The Kids Are All Right (66/1)
The Fighter (80/1)
Winter's Bone (100/1)

Best Actor:
Colin Firth ( The King's Speech)
James Franco ( 127 Hours)
Jesse Eisenberg ( The Social Network)
Jeff Bridges ( True Grit)
Robert Duvall ( Get Low)

Best Actress:
Annette Bening ( The Kids Are All Right)
Natalie Portman ( Black Swan)
Jennifer Lawrence ( Winter's Bone)
Lesley Manville ( Another Year)
Nicole Kidman ( Rabbit Hole)

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale ( The Fighter)
Geoffrey Rush ( The King's Speech)
Mark Ruffalo ( The Kids Are All Right)
Michael Douglas ( Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps)
Matt Damon ( True Grit)

Best Supporting Actress:
Melissa Leo ( The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter ( The King's Speech)
Jacki Weaver ( Animal Kingdom)
Hallie Steinfeld ( True Grit)
Amy Adams ( The Fighter)

Other actors who have received a single nod or been moved from the list include Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception), Miranda Richardson (Made in Dagenham).

The Academy Awards show will air live on February 27, 2011 from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.