Oscars! Statistics! Predicting the Winners with Maths!

The Oscars 2014 Data
UPDATE: Stats have been updated after the BAFTAs and can be found here.

Last year statistical wizard Nate Silver had a go at predicting the Oscar winners using the various other award ceremonies as indicators. With my love for both films and data this year I decided to give it a go myself. Taking a leaf out of Nate’s book I will be using twelve other award ceremonies to give me my predictions. I will not be using anything other that cold, hard statistics and will not let my emotions or film knowledge sway my opinion.

To begin with I looked at how often these twelve awards have agreed with the Oscar selections across 11 awards categories since the year 2000. For example; the Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor have gone to the same recipient as one another 11 times out of the past 13 years and so in this category the Golden Globes have a predictive accuracy of 85%. As the ceremonies take place for this year’s events I am looking at all the awards the Oscar nominees are winning, calculating their chance of winning the Oscar based on their combined precursor awards’ predictive accuracy, and comparing that score with their rivals.

So far nine of my twelve precursor ceremonies have taken place, and some categories won’t settle down until after the BAFTAs in mid-February, but my interim analysis certainly shows some dominant nominees. Have a look at the charts below and see what you think. The drop down menu will allow you to toggle between Oscar categories, the bar chart to the left shows how the nominees stack up against one another so far, and the table to the right shows how often the other awards correspond with the Oscar winner.


Mild Concern Oscar Predictions 2014

Best Picture
12 Years a Slave

The strongest predictors for Best Picture are the Producers Guild Award and the Critic’s Choice Movie Award, both of which were won by 12 Years a Slave. The only significant award yet to be announced is the BAFTA but even if Gravity takes the title it will have to literally beat the odds if it hopes to win the Oscar.


It is completely the opposite story for the Best Director Oscar with Alfonso Cuarón and Gravity having won the big hitters in the form of the Directors Guild Award and the Critic’s Choice Movie Award. 12 Years a Slave is so far behind that a BAFTA win would make little difference.

Actor in a Leading Role
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

The Critic’s Choice Movie Award again dominates the field followed closely by the Screen Actors Guild Award, both sitting on the mantelpiece of Matthew McConaughey. The power lies in London now as both the London Film Critics Circle and BAFTA awards have yet to be decided and both hold some sway over the category.

Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine

By far and away the most distinctive category at this stage in the race as Cate Blanchett leaves all rivals in the dust. Her’s is the only Oscar nominated performance to have won any precursor award apart from Amy Adams who won a mostly inaccurate Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. This really is Blanchett’s award to lose.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

Almost as strong a predicted winner as Blanchett, Leto is way out in the lead having won all but three of the precursor awards to this point. The only other actors to have won awards in this category aren’t even nomination for the Oscar so won’t be troubling Leto when March roles round. No competition… yet.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave

Lupita Nyong’o and Jennifer Lawrence have won three precursor awards each with Nyong’o taking the lead by winning awards of slightly more importance than Lawrence. Too close to call yet especially with the most accurate BAFTA looming in a few weeks.

Original Screenplay
Spike Jonze for Her

Let’s take this prediction with a huge pinch of salt right now as the only awards with any predictive power here, the BAFTA and the Writer’s Guild of America Award, lie in the future and could easily change the rankings completely.

Adapted Screenplay
Terence Winter for The Wolf of Wall Street

The BAFTA isn’t as important for this award but the WGA award certainly is. No nominee has won more than one precursor award so far so we may never have a good grip on the winner before the Oscar itself is awarded.

20 Feet from Stardom

This is a very difficult category to predict as none of the precursor awards are particularly accurate predictors. 20 Feet from Stardom takes the lead having only won the Critics’ Choice Movie Award with all other awards to date going to Stories We Tell which has not been nominated.

Animated Film

Way out in the lead is Frozen with the mightily accurate Critics’ Choice Movie Award under its belt. That said the BAFTA for this category has yet to be awarded and thus far it has an unprecedented 100% predictive accuracy.

Foreign Film
The Great Beauty

It all falls apart here as one film is absolutely dominating this category across the precursor awards and that is Blue is the Warmest Colour. Tragically the film is not eligible for the Oscars this year so we only have The Great Beauty‘s win at the Golden Globes to go by.

We’ll have another look at how things stand after the BAFTAs on 15th February when we will have four more ceremonies contributing to the stats and I will be making my way to the bookies.

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