• Post category:Data Journalism
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You are currently viewing Predicting the Oscars…with data!

Predicting the Oscars…with data!

Predicting the winners of the Oscars using data is a something of a tradition (you could, alternatively, watch all the films and come to an informed conclusion of which is the best).

There’s lots of data. There’s predictable patterns (win one award, up your chances for an Oscar, Best Picture and Best Director often go to the same film).

So who’s going to win this year?

  • Best Picture: Oppenheimer
  • Actor in a Leading Role: Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)
  • Actress in a Leading Role: Emma Stone (Poor Things)
  • Actor in a Supporting Role: Robert Downey Jr (Oppenheimer)
  • Actress in a Supporting Role: Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers)
  • Directing: Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer)
  • Animated Feature Film: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  • Documentary Feature Film: 20 Days in Mariupol
  • Best International Feature Film: The Zone of Interest
  • Original Screenplay: Anatomy of a Fall
  • Adapted Screenplay: American Fiction
  • Score: Oppenheimer
  • Song: I’m Just Ken (Barbie)

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So what’s driving those predictions?

Best Picture

The three best predictors of the Oscar for Best Picture are the Producers Guild Awards, the Critics’ Choice Award and the award for Best Director at the Directors Guild of America, all of which have matched the Oscar two-thirds of the time since 2000. And all of these went for Oppenheimer.

Actor in a Leading Role

Three-quarters of the time (since 2000), the person who’s won the Screen Actors Guild award has gone on to win the Oscar too, so it’s looking good for Cillian Murphy (he also won the Bafta and the Golden Globe, both strong predictors). This might be a category that is somewhat close – Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers) won the Critics Choice, which matches the Oscar 71% of the time.

Actress in a Leading Role

This one feels slightly more of a close race – Lily Gladstone won the Screen Actors Guild award (predicts the Oscars 71% of the time), Emma Stone took the Bafta (67%). Emma Stone has won more critics awards (which tend to be less predictive than the industry awards as there’s less of a cross over), so the momentum might be just slightly with her.

Supporting Roles

These seem to be the more predictable awards each year (except for Jamie Lee Curtis last year) – as a consensus starts to build and the person who’s been winning awards all season also wins the Oscar. Robert Downey Jr seems very likely to win the Oscar after already triumphing at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Critics’ Choice, and Baftas (the four awards most likely to match the Oscars). Meanwhile, Da’Vine Joy Randolph has won pretty much everything this awards season, so it would be just about the biggest upset of all time if she doesn’t also get the Oscar.

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It’s well known that whoever nabs the gong at the Directors Guild of America awards usually also gets the Oscar – it’s happened 83% of the time since 2000. As such Christopher Nolan seems the likeliest bet for the Oscar on Sunday (he’s also won the Critics’ Choice, Bafta, Chicago Film Critics award, and Golden Globe – all of which predict the Oscar at least half the time.

Animated Feature Film

This is a close one. It’s between Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Boy and the Heron, which have been splitting awards all season. I think Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse might just clinch it as it won the award for animated feature at the American Cinema Editors awards. That award has matched the Oscars every year except one since 2010 (a 93% prediction rate) – 2015 when it picked The Lego Movie, which wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar.

Other awards

A couple of these are more by default than anything else. Earlier awards aren’t really that predictive if the film they picked isn’t even nominated for an Oscar.

That’s the case for Best International Feature Film. Of the films that have picked up awards this season in similar categories, only The Zone of Interest has made the list of Oscar nominations. Having won a Bafta, it’s possibly the best bet for an Oscar.

Best documentary is tough to predict for another reason – only one of the nominated films has won anything this season. 20 Days in Mariupol won the Bafta and the Directors Guild Award, which do at least have reasonable predictive power.

As long as it doesn’t split the vote with it’s two nominations, Barbie should get best song. The only question is whether What Was I Made For or I’m Just Ken – which have one previous award each. Having picked up the slightly more predictive Critic’s Choice Award, I’m Just Ken might just edge it.

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