It can be a little daunting to find yourself confronted with a list of nominees in twenty-four Oscar categories, especially if you’re a casual moviegoer. Half the names are people you’ve never heard of in movies you don’t recognize. But armed with these tips, you can feel confident writing your acceptance speech as top Oscar Forecaster before the show ever starts.
1) Consider the Precedents:
Think of the Academy Awards as the championship game in a long series of awards contests held throughout the winner. Yes, there are anywhere from three to ten nominees in each category, but by the time the Oscars roll around many have already proven themselves (or eliminated themselves) with telling showings in previous award shows. Before you fill out your Oscar picks, research which movies, actors, and filmmakers have been cleaning up all winter. There will be some surprises on Oscar night, but there will also be plenty of repeats.
2) Some Precedents Matter, Some Don’t
When it comes to predicting the eventual Academy Award winners, some awards shows matter more than others. Concentrate on Guild Awards (Screen Actors Guild Awards, Director’s Guild Awards, Producer’s Guild Awards, etc), as these groups are made up of many of the same people who vote for the Academy Awards. For example, in the 18-year history of the SAG Awards, the actors have failed to award the future Academy Award Winner for Best Actor just four times.
In contrast, ignore the awards that do not share voters with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Golden Globes is one example of a highly-overrated Oscar Predictor. The Hollywood Foreign Press, who votes on the Golden Globes, has virtually no legitimate clout in Hollywood. Despite awarding two Best Picture Awards– one for comedy and one for drama– the Golden Globes have only managed to predict the Best Picture winner at the Oscars only four times in the last ten years. The Director’s Guild, which shares Academy Voters, has picked nine of the last ten!
3) Side with the Actors
In closely contested categories where there is no key favorite, my technique is to side with the Actors. Actors make up 20% of the Academy Votership, the most heavily represented trade by a wide margin. If two movies are otherwise equally well regarded, whether for Best Picture or Costume Design, but only one has a standout performance by a well-liked actor, you can bet it will take home the prize. More Oscar voters will have seen and appreciated this movie because more of them are actors.
4) Picking the Obscure Categories
If your Oscar Pool goes all the way to the bottom of the show, picking Awards like best Documentary Short, then you are in for some tough choices. These categories will likely be made up of movies you’ve never heard of, let alone had a chance to see. Some people at your party may resort to coin flipping or random guessing– and that’s not a terrible idea. But consider clicking over to industry-insider site Gold Derby. At this site highly connected industry experts make a sport out of picking the eventual Oscar winners. And while its notoriously difficult to pick these obscure categories, I can guarantee they’ll have a better guess than your lucky quarter.
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