The Education Behind My Oscar Guesses

This past Thursday I shared my Oscar picks for the top six categories. Since this is the first time I’ve made a concerted effort to pick winners at the Academy Awards, I thought it would be fun to show the data behind my picks. Seeing as this is a post of first, I’ve included a couple of infographcis (which represent the second and third inforgraphics I’ve ever produced. The first is too horrible to share.) as well.

A quick recap of my picks:

Best Picture: Boyhood
Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne
Best Actress: Julianne Moore
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette

I should note that the majority of my data is focused on the first three categories as it seems as if Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons, and Patricia Arquette are simply waiting to collect their statues. The awards for Picture, Director, and Actor are far closer, however.

First, I looked at some of the biggest indicators of past Oscar success: wins at the other major awards shows. These included most of the Guilds (Producers, Directors, and Screen Actors) as well as the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice, and the BAFTAs.

For the Best Actor award, Eddie Redmayne has won both the SAG and Golden Globes (for Drama), both of which are the strongest indicators for an Oscar win. The fact that he also napped a BAFTA certainly doesn’t hurt.

Best Director gets a bit tricky, but it came down to not only the Directors Guild award (which Iñárritu), but two other factors as well: total number of nominations as number of previous nominations for the directing category. In all the years that the Oscars have been given out, the median number of total nominations for Best Director is nine. In addition, the chances of winning increase if the director had been nominated (but not won) in previous years (Babel in 2006).

Now, Best Picture is the doozy. Birdman seems like the clear winner seeing as it has a total of nine nominations, it’s won at both the Producers and SAG awards, and it’s director (Iñárritu) won at the Directors Guild. The last time a film won those three and then didn’t win the Oscar was Apollo 13 way back in 1996.  So, Birdman, right?


In all those nominations that Birdman has notched up, one that’s missing is for Best Editing. You’d have to go back to 1981 and Ordinary People to find a movie winning Best Picture that wasn’t nominated for Best Editing. It’s for that reason that I’m going with Boyhood for the win.

And that wraps up the thinking behind my picks. While I was putting all this together I also thought it would be fun to look at some different ways of visualizing all the data. Since infographics are so hot right now, I tried my hand at a couple of different versions, the results of which are below.

Oscar data V3


Oscar Data V2 a resize

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