At long last the Oscars are upon us. In a few days time we’ll know who wore what, who thanked who, and – most importantly – who took home the gold statuettes at the 86th Oscars. We’ve been bringing you our Oscar coverage and picks for the past four months, and part of that coverage has been using our SSN Forecast Formula to predict both nominees and, now, winners. This math-based formula focuses on eight major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, all four acting categories, and both Adapted and Original Screenplay.
For the Forecast Formula, calculated by SSN’s Awards Researcher Ethan Markowitz, we delved into our StudioSystem database of historical awards over the last 30 years and, utilizing a logistic regression, developed mathematical models to help determine the potential winners. Awards like the Golden Globes, Directors Guild Awards, Critics Choice, BAFTA, SAG Awards and a few others are highly predictive of the nominees for Best Picture, as well as all four acting categories and both writing categories. When it came to predicting the nominees, the Forecast Formula’s success rate was 80 percent, so these were definitely not knee-jerk predictions.
Heading into Oscar weekend we’re bringing you SSN’s predictions for the winners in the eight categories analyzed by Markowitz, and in all the remaining categories as well, based on our own, non-mathematical but still insightful, predictions. We’ve also included a printable ballot, so you can compare and contrast while you’re sipping your champagne and getting ready for host Ellen DeGeneres to take the stage and kick things off.
Here’s to a great Oscar (and Spirit Awards) weekend.
SSN Forecast Formula Picks
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street
Forecast Formula: In a year of fantastic films and tough competition, many see a tight race between Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave in the category of Best Picture. But the Forecast Formula marks Gravity as the clear frontrunner and for good reason. The winner of the DGA Award is historically the best predictor of the Oscars and Gravity came out ahead there, as well as having 20 overall Oscar nominations compared to 12 Years 14 nominations. Many cite the BAFTA award as a heavy predictor thus upping the chances of its winner this year, 12 Years, but the historic data shows a different statistic. In fact, with a 40 percent accuracy rating over the last 30 years, the BAFTA’s Best Picture winner predicts who will lose the Oscar more than it predicts the winner.
In light of the PGA Awards crowning both films the winners of the Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures award this year, the first PGA tie in history, the math behind the Formula changes. Since a PGA win for one film would give that film the upper hand, a tie negates that. Therefore, the Formula placed more emphasis on the DGA wins and Academy Award nominations for each picture, rather than the PGA win.
David O. Russell’s American Hustle nabbed the Best Ensemble award at the SAG Awards, but that doesn’t push the film past its 1.5% chance of a win, according to our numbers. Dallas Buyers Club has a strong chance of triumphing in both male acting categories, but a .1% chance of becoming a dark horse winner when it comes to Best Picture. The Weinstein Company has been campaigning hard for Philomena, but looks like all eyes will be on Gravity come Sunday night.
Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell for American Hustle
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Forecast Formula: They can’t all win on Oscar night, and Cuarón is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest. He took home many director awards this season including the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto Film Critics Awards along with the DGA Award for Best Director from his peers. That, plus his multiple other wins this awards season at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, put him in the lead to win the Academy Award. Other factors came into play as well – overall noms for Gravity being one – and SSN predicts that he’ll win, with a 99.1% probability.
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave
Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Christian Bale for American Hustle
Forecast Formula: In the Best Actor race, Matthew McConaughey winning the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama gave him an insurmountable lead- he has a whopping 97.01% chance of winning on March 2. Leonardo DiCaprio is his toughest competition. Paramount’s awards campaign, that has strongly promoted him throughout the entire season, definitely helped DiCaprio land that surprise Academy Award nomination. Paramount’s unorthodox strategy of submitting his performance for best Golden Globe in a Musical or Comedy and the Critics Choice Comedy Award paid off with wins, but the effect is hard to calculate as comedic performances seldom win this Oscar.
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Amy Adams for American Hustle
Judi Dench for Philomena
Sandra Bullock for Gravity
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County
Forecast Formula: No one can touch Cate Blanchett this year – she’s been awarded the Best Actress trophy at every turn. Her previous wins, and the unbelievable skill she brought to Blue Jasmine, make her one of this year’s Oscar sure things with a 96.44% chance of a win. Dench has been nominated several times without a win, but that’s unlikely to have swayed voters this time.
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave
Forecast Formula: Newcomer Abdi surprised some when he won the BAFTA, but Leto is SSN’s frontrunner for his work in Dallas Buyers Club due to his Golden Globe and SAG wins. Back in the fall, Fassbender seemed like he had it in the bag, but he decided not to campaign, which may have hurt his chances. Leto has been on fire this awards season, so we’re betting that continues on Sunday.
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
June Squibb for Nebraska
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County
Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine
Forecast Formula: Historically speaking the Supporting Actress category is more of a popularity contest and in that light, media darling Jennifer Lawrence has surged ahead of newcomer Lupita Nyong’o. Even though Nyong’o took home the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress, that award didn’t prove a high factor in determining this winner. Rather the populist awards like the Golden Globes and the Critics Awards in New York, Toronto and San Francisco, all of which Jennifer Lawrence won, are better determiners for this category. Lawrence has a 98.9 percent chance of winning the Oscar, leaving Nyong’o with only 0.8 percent. It looks like Lawrence will be giving another speech.
Dallas Buyers Club
Forecast Formula: According to the Formula, the screenplay categories are the most competitive. Of Her’s five Oscar nominations, it seems most likely that it will take home the Best Original Screenplay Award for writer Spike Jonze. It won the Golden Globe, the WGA Award, and a slew of critic association awards. David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer’s American Hustle definitely picked up some momentum when it nabbed the BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay recently, but Her still has a 63.6% probability of winning this weekend, over American Hustle, Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, and Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Forecast Formula: Again, this category is highly competitive, but for Adapted Screenplay, the Golden Globes and the WGA Awards have a big impact. We also considered the other Academy Awards the movies were nominated for, such as Best Picture and Best Editing, which show a respect for the script. Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope’s Philomena recently took home the BAFTA, but Billy Ray is the definite frontrunner for Captain Phillips with an 84.2% chance of a win since it took home the WGA prize.
On the next page you’ll find our SSN Insight picks for Oscar nods that are not based on the Forecast Formula.