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Oscar Predictions: Boyhood and Birdman Neck and Neck for Top Two Awards

February 22nd, 2015

The polls are closed in our 18th annual Predict the Academy Awards contest, and it has turned out to be the most exciting two-horse race in the history of the contest.

After weeks of intense debate among our voters, we have a virtual tie in the biggest categories of all: Best Picture and Best Director. The predicted Best Picture winner is, in fact, a statistical dead heat. Boyhood garnered 47% of the total vote, and Birdman 46%, giving the Linklater epic the tiniest of edges.

Best Director is a clearer contest, but still close, and still a bout between Boyhood and Birdman. Richard Linklater is favorite to win Best Director, perhaps in part because he’s more “due” for the award than Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. As noted, though, “favorite” is strong, given the closeness of this category, with Linklater getting 55% of the votes and Inarritu taking a 46% share.

The other big story about this year’s contest is just how much of a two-horse contest it really is. With 93% of the Best Picture vote going to Birdman and Boyhood, the remaining nominees were left to split the other 7% of the vote. American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything each gathered a handful of votes from The Numbers readers, and Selma and Whiplash are given virtually no chance at all.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is strongly favored to win Best Animated Feature, with 73% of the votes. Big Hero 6 could pull off a surprise though, according to 21% of voters.

The acting categories have three overwhelming favorites: Julianne Moore for Best Actress, Patricia Arquette for Supporting Actress, and J.K. Simmons for Supporting Actor. Best Actor looks like another two-horse race, with Eddie Redmayne favored by 60% of voters and Michael Keaton getting a 37% vote share.

Surprisingly, neither Birdman nor Boyhood are favored for best screenplay awards. Wes Anderson is widely expected to get a consolation prize with Best Original Screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Meanwhile, Graham Moore is expected to win Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game.

As far as total Oscars is concerned, that’s a tough one, given the closeness of the Best Picture and Best Director races. Going straight off of totals, and ignoring statistical ties, Boyhood is predicted to win, ending up with four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress and Achievement in Film Editing), while Birdman is projected to go home with only one: for Best Cinematography. Incredibly, there’s a reasonable chance Birdman could go home with the Best Picture Oscar while failing to win in a single other category.

The other films predicted to win multiple Oscars are The Grand Budapest Hotel, tying Boyhood with four wins (Best Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Make-up and Hairstyling, and Production Design), Whiplash with two (Supporting Actor, Sound Mixing), and The Theory of Everything, also with two wins (Actor and Original Score).

A measure of how competitive the awards are this year is that there are several scenarios under which a film virtually no-one thinks will win Best Picture, The Grand Budapest Hotel, ends up with the most Oscars, and the Best Picture winner, Birdman, loses in every other category.

- Predicted winners in each category
- Predicted and actual winners in each category
- Complete vote tallies in each category

Filed under: Awards Season, Analysis, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Selma, Big Hero 6, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Theory of Everything, Whiplash, The Imitation Game, American Sniper, Patricia Arquette, Wes Anderson, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Michael Keaton, Richard Linklater, Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, J.K. Simmons, Graham Moore