There’s an old adage that the Oscars give awards to the oldest actor, the youngest actress, and the director who has been around the longest, earning the most prestige. That would mean we could expect Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Amy Adams (American Hustle) and Martin Scorsese (Wolf of Wall Street) to win Oscars this year.
If you enter a betting pool for the Academy Awards, you won’t win with that strategy.
The best way to triumph in your 2014 predictions for the Oscars, either winning some money, impressing others, or at least getting to tell someone “I told you so,” is to look at who has won in the past.
Over the last three years, the oldest actor among the nominees has not won an Oscar for best actor. Otherwise, we would have seen Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), and Denzel Washington (Flight) win in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Ditto the “youngest actress” among the best actress nominees. Otherwise Jennifer Lawrence would have won for Winter’s Bone in 2011. Rooney Mara would have won for Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Quvenzhane Wallis would have won for Beasts of the Southern Wild. But none of them did.
What five of the six winners of the best actor and best actress categories since 2011 has been which film has won the most Academy Awards nominations. In 2011, Colin Firth’s King’s Speech garnered 12, and he prevailed. The same could be said of 2012 when Jean Dujardin won for his role in The Artist. Finally, Daniel Day Lewis prevailed for Lincoln, which had the most nominations in 2013.
For the women, Natalie Portman took the Best Actress category, and Black Swan had more nominations than any other film among those nominated in that category. Meryl Streep was the exception in 2012, as the Iron Lady did not have the most nominations (Mara would have won it). But the Iron Lady was a much better film. Finally, Jennifer Lawrence finally broke through for Silver Linings Playbook. No other actress in the category was in a film that received as many nominations.
So following that rule, we should see Christian Bale prevail in the Best Actor category for his role in American Hustle. He would beat out Dern, Leonardo Di Caprio (Wolf of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyer’s Club).
It’s a tougher pick for the women, as Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock both had their films (American Hustle and Gravity) garner ten nominations. Look for Bullock to win over Adams, Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Judy Dench (Philomena) and Meryl Streep (August: Osage County).
Directors are a little tougher to figure. For two of the last three years, the Academy Awards have bestowed honors on Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), Michel Hazanvicius (The Artist), and Ang Lee (Life of Pi). Only one directed the film with the most nominations. In two of those three cases, however, the Best Director was one from the film to receive the second most nominations.
If we follow that logic, it means Steve McQueen would take home the Best Director Award for 12 Years a Slave, as he is second to David O. Russell (American Hustle) and Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), with Alexander Payne’s Nebraska at the bottom.
Whatever you choose for other categories in your Oscar betting pool, you should look at recent trends, not old adages. Play the Mythbuster by doing a little homework, and you’re more likely to come out on top.