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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture Too Close to Call

March 4th, 2018

Oscar Contest

Voting is now closed in our 21st Annual Predict the Academy Awards Competition, and we’re ready to announce the predicted winners in each category.

We have overwhelming favorites in virtually all of the major categories this year, with one glaring exception: Best Picture. That race is a virtual tie between Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Shape of Water. Three Billboards has a very slight edge, with 44% of the vote, while Shape of Water has 43%. Get Out is a long shot, at 6%, and Dunkirk and Lady Bird are the only other films to get a look in, with about 3% each.

With the top two films both getting less than 50% of the votes, it’s fair to say there isn’t a favorite in this race, and any of these five films seems like a conceivable winner. The winner of our contest will likely be someone who makes the right call in this category.

Things are much more clear cut in other categories…

Coco is a huge favorite to win Best Animated Feature, with 98% of the vote. Similar shoo-ins appear to be Gary Oldman for his performance as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour (94% of the vote), and Frances McDormand in Three Billboards (91%). The supporting actor favorites, Allison Janney in I, Tonya, and Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards, both have huge leads too, with 86% of the vote.

One key moment in the evening will be to see if Guillermo del Toro picks up the Best Director award. He gets 89% of the vote in our contest, miles ahead of Christopher Nolan’s 6%, and Greta Gerwig’s 3%. But any of those three are plausible winners, for one reason or another. If del Toro doesn’t pick this one up, it’s probably a bad sign for Shape of Water.

Likewise, look to the acting awards to see if there’s any weakness in support for Three Billboards. A supporting actor win for Willem Dafoe, for example, might indicate that academy members are lukewarm on Three Billboards.

One of the more interesting categories tonight will be Original Screenplay, where Jordan Peele gets 58% of our votes, ahead of Martin McDonagh’s 25%. A win for either film would improve its odds of taking home Best Picture (as, indeed, would a longshot win for Shape of Water in this category).

The mix of films up for Oscars this year means that no one movie is likely to dominate proceedings this evening. Our contest has three films each picking up three Oscars: Three Billboards, The Shape of Water, and Dunkirk. Darkest Hour, Blade Runner 2049, and Coco are favored in two categories each. If Dunkirk or Shape of Water starts piling up technical awards early in the show, that might be a harbinger of an eventual Best Picture win. If Blade Runner 2049 pulls off wins in categories like Production Design, Sound Mixing, or Sound Editing, that might be a sign that Shape of Water hasn’t won over the academy voters.

As always, there will be upsets on the night, but it’s unlikely the earlier categories will provide enough consistent results that the winner of Best Picture will seem a foregone conclusion when the envelope is opened. Let’s hope there’s no room for uncertainty after the envelope is opened this time around.

- Predicted winners in each category
- Total votes in each category
- Predicted and actual winners in each category

Bruce Nash, bruce.nash@the-numbers.com

Filed under: Gary Oldman, Willem Dafoe, Guillermo del Toro, Greta Gerwig, Allison Janney, Frances McDormand, Christopher Nolan, Sam Rockwell, Jordan Peele, Martin McDonagh
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