It turned out that average review scores weren't particularly good at predicting the best picture, with just five 'Metacritic favourites' winning in the 18-year period I investigated. Since then, this number has crept up: while the 2011 winner The King's Speech was a mere fourth favourite, last year The Artist became the sixth top-rated movie to actually win.
This year, spy thriller Zero Dark Thirty leads the field, with a Metacritic score of 95. Best Foreign Language nominee Amour is a close second on 93, with a (relatively) big drop down to 86 where three films are lurking in third place. However, it's one of these three - the aforementioned Lincoln - which is currently the runaway favourite with the bookmakers.
It seems, then, that the stage is set for another non-'favourite' to take the top prize. However, should the bookies be proved correct, the makers of Zero Dark Thirty can at least console themselves with this fact: with a Metacritic score of 95 it will become the 'best' losing picture in the last 20 years.