Data Driven Oscar Predictions 2017

Oscars 2017

I am back to try to predict the unpredictable. Can I guess tonight’s Oscar winners using just an Excel spreadsheet, some questionable mathematics, and seventeen years of award winners? In the past I vary from getting just over half right to getting nearly all predictions right. With that kind of accuracy it’s no wonder I haven’t yet made a fortune at the bookies.

For anyone with no more time to spare my predictions are below and for people who like the nitty-gritty I go into more detail afterwards.

Predicted Winner
La La Land
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Viola Davis – Fences
Manchester by the Sea
Toni Erdmann
OJ Made in America

To make my predictions I will be using 14 other awards ceremonies and looking back at how often the winners they chose have overlapped with the eventual Oscar winners since the year 2000. Using this I can see which awards are good at predicting the Oscars in which category and using the award winners so far this year I can see who will win on Sunday night.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve tried this three times before getting 10/11 right the first time, 6/11 the second, and 8/11 right the third; place your bets accordingly.

Best Picture

La La Land

Often a tricky one to predict with so many contenders in the race, this year the task isn’t so hard. La La Land has won a massive six predictor awards including the Producers’ Guild Award which has the highest accuracy at 59%. Moonlight is a distant second.

Chance of winning: 13%
Runner up: Moonlight (14%)

Best Director

Damien Chazelle
La La Land

The race for best director was a lot closer before I noticed a mistake in my spreadsheet. Now I see hat Damien Chazelle is well in the lead with Moonlight‘s Barry Jenkins again taking silver. The Directors’ Guold award is right 81% of the time and it went to Chazelle this year.

Chance of winning: 50%
Runner up: Barry Jenkins – Moonlight(30%)

Actor in a Leading Role

Casey Affleck
Manchester by the Sea

The most predictable award of the evening goes to the younger Affleck brother. He’s won 8 of my predictor awards including three strong predictors. Nobody else is getting a look in.

Chance of winning: 79%
Runner up: Denzel Washington – Fences (8%)

Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert

It all comes down to the Golden Globes. Huppert and Emma Stone both won best actress but Huppert won for drama and Stone for comedy. Drama lines up with the Oscar winner 69% of the time, and comedy just 19%. That said, I will be surprised if this prediction is right.

Chance of winning: 41%
Runner up: Emma Stone – La La Land (29%)

Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali

A much safer bet her for supporting actor. Mahershala Ali has won a handful of strong predictor award while two of his rivals have won one award each, and the remaining two have nothing.

Chance of winning: 61%
Runner up: Dev Patel – Lion (30%)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis

I got this wrong last year but am convinced that Davis’ four wins at strong predictor ceremonies gives her a strong lead. He main contender is Naomie Harris who only has two wins and neither of those are strong predictors.

Chance of winning: 59%
Runner up: Naomie Harris – Moonlight (13%)

Original Screenplay

Manchester by the Sea

With six awards already above the fire I think the drama about grief will beat out the musical about love. None of the six awards are particularly predictive by their combined weight give this script the edge.

Chance of winning: 44%
Runner up: La La Land (22%)

Adapted Screenplay


This is a bit of a guess more than anything as lots of award ceremonies only have one screenplay award and they gave their prize to Manchester by the Sea. Essentially I am lacking in data. That said Arrival did win the Writers’ Guild award which is right 75% of the time.

Chance of winning: 33%
Runner up: Lion (21%)

Animated Feature


A year with no Pixar nominee opens up this race a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. Zootopia has won five predictor awards putting it in first place but did not win the most predictive award of all; the BAFTA. Kubo and the Two Strings won the BAFTA and that is right 90% of the time.

Chance of winning: 65%
Runner up: Kubo and the Two Strings (18%)

Foreign Film

Toni Erdmann

Until last night this was almost too close to call but a win at the Spirit Awards has allowed Toni Erdmann to pull into a more confident first place.

Chance of Winning: 30%
Runner up: The Salesman (21%)


OJ Made in America

This eight hour documentary about an American hero turned accused killer is set to take home a golden statue thanks to five predictor award wins. If you have the stamina this epic is available now on BBC iPlayer.

Chance of winning: 37%
Runner up: 13th (19%)