Search This Blog

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Using Oscarmetrics to Rank The Eight Best Picture Nominees' Chances

I love to use Oscarmetrics to determine winners at the Academy Awards. Most writers who cover awards season love to talk about the inside information they get, and I just sit here and use my numbers to out-predict them. Not only do I not have the access that most award season writers have, but that information either tends not to be accurate or that information just seems to confuse the situation. I have been extremely accurate in my predictions the past couple of years once I have learned the ins and out of the system. If you had listened to me last year when I told you to bet on Birdman for Best Picture and Best Director in mid-January when Boyhood was the favorite or to bet on Eddie Redmayne when Michael Keaton was the favorite, then you would have won a handful of shekles.

2016 has been a crazy Oscar season, and one that hasn't felt so up in the air since 2006 when Martin Scorsese and The Departed snuck in under the wire to steal the entire she-bang. On one hand, that leaves me feeling the least confident I have in a while in my selections; however, on the other hand, that means the betting is ripe for the taking. So if you would like to bet on the Best Picture Oscar race, here is my helpful guide:

8) Brooklyn

Brooklyn does not have: an Oscar or a Director's Guild of America (DGA) nomination for Best Director (two keys necessary for a Best Picture win), an Oscar nomination for Best Editing (surprisingly, but not really, necessary for a Best Picture win), a BAFTA nomination for Best Picture, or a Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) nomination for "Best Picture". Further, it only has three total Oscar nominations. To the film's credit, it is an acting nomination for Saoirse Ronan and a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination, both of which are good nominations to have if you want to win Best Picture, but the few total nominations it has plus the minuscule buzz there is surrounding the film means that Brooklyn unfortunately is not really in contention- which is a shame because it is a great film.

7) Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies suffers from the same major problems that Brooklyn does. It doesn't have an Oscar nomination or a DGA nomination for Best Director and it doesn't have an Academy Award nomination for Best Editing either. However, it's slightly higher than Brooklyn for a couple of reasons: 1) Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks in name just go farther and deeper among the voters, and 2) It has more Oscar nominations than Brooklyn. The more nominations the better, because it's hard to say you're the best film of the year without being in the top 5 in SOME other major categories. Being a Best Picture means you're great all around.

6) Room

Here's a little inside baseball for you: In my book, the Director's Guild of America is the biggest predictor for the Best Picture Oscar winner. It's not a perfect indicator as Gravity won Best Picture in 2013 yet 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture, but it's the best one we have. It worked out great in 2006 when Babel and Little Miss Sunshine were the Best Picture favorites, yet The Departed won at the DGAs and eventually Best Picture at the Oscars. The same happened with Birdman and its DGA win beating out the favorite Boyhood. In a year where the Best Picture winner is so up in the air, it's crucial to have a DGA win. Since Room wasn't even nominated, I don't think it has a chance to win at the DGAs. Therefore, it will not win Best Picture at the Oscars. Also, it doesn't have a Best Editing nomination.

5) The Martian

The Martian's Best Picture chances took a huge hit when Ridley Scott didn't earn a Best Directing Oscar nomination. It is extremely rare that a film will win Best Picture and not win Best Director at the Academy Awards. Although it's happened twice in the recent past with an Argo/Ang Lee split and a 12 Years A Slave/ Alfonso Cuaron split, it would only be because of recency bias that you'd bet on The Martian. Further, there were other non-analytical factors in those previous years that just don't exist with The Martian and this topsy-turvy year. Further, it doesn't have a Best Editing nomination which hurts its chances that much more. However, Ridley Scott did earn a DGA nomination which means, Scott and company can say the same thing Jim Carrey says in Dumb and Dumber, "so you're telling me there's a chance".

4) Spotlight

It hurts me so much putting Spotlight this low on this list, because it's my favorite film of 2015, and it was the favorite to win it all when awards season first stated. Further, it has a Best Directing and Best Editing Oscar nomination, two acting Oscar nominations, a DGA nomination, the National Board of Review win, a SAG "Best Picture" nomination, a BAFTA Best Picture nomination, and a Golden Globe Best Picture nomination. Unfortunately, nobody is talking about Spotlight and it really feels as if its Best Picture chances are going down like a lead zeppelin. If it wins at the DGAs then it will skyrocket back up to #1, but its direction is so great because it is understated and simple, things that haven't historically worked out at the DGAs (which is dumb and odd), that I wouldn't put my money on it.

3) Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road has 10 total Oscar nominations including Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design. I also think it's going to win a handful of technical awards which is great for its Oscar chances because saying it is the very best in a handful of areas helps bolster the argument that it is the best overall picture of the year. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a Best Screenplay nomination or any acting nominations which means that it probably should drop behind Spotlight, but the reason it's #3 is because I feel that its director George Miller has a chance to win at the DGAs. Not only does Miller have a great legacy narrative going for him, but Mad Max: Fury Road is a huge showy film that uses as little CGI as possible which will appeal to the DGA voters. I think Mad Max: Fury Road has a better shot to win at the DGAs which means its odds to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards is that much better than most films.

2) The Big Short

It was tough to see The Big Short win Best Picture at the Oscars even four weeks ago, but frankly all of the makings are there for its win. It has a directing, writing, acting, and editing Oscar nomination, its director Adam McKay has a DGA nomination this year, the film has a SAG nomination for "Best Picture", and best of all, The Big Short won Best Picture at the Producer's Guild of America (PGA) awards. I personally don't put AS big of stock into the PGAs as everybody else seems to do, but its PGA win is a huge boost for the film's Best Picture chances. There's also a "this film was tough to make" narrative around it which helps its DGA chances. Frankly, at this point in time, the two main things holding The Big Short back is that it's a comedy (there hasn't been a comedy to win Best Picture since Annie Hall back in 1977), as well as...

1) The Revenant

The Revenant has been anointed as The Favorite, and more often than not, if you're The Favorite this deep into the Oscar race, you're going to win. Further, everything said about the other films holds true for The Revenant. It has a directing, acting, writing, and editing Oscar nomination, a buttload of other technical awards that it will probably win like Best Cinematography and Best Production Design, and it has a DGA nomination. Further, it would be a shock if its director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, didn't win it all at the DGAs this year. The "hard shoot" narrative along with the showiness of the entire production are both factors the DGAs love. It's what helped Inarritu win last year at the DGAs for Birdman. Also working in The Revenant's favor is that it already won The Golden Globe for Best Picture and Best Director. Its loss at the PGAs means that the film isn't a lock, but there's a reason it's currently The Favorite and #1 on this list.



If you would like to comment on this post, please visit our Facebook page