There’s no way to ask the 7,000 Academy members what they’re thinking. (Obviously not about diversity… ahem.) But 538.com still tries to predict who will win Sunday’s Academy Awards. Here’s the gist of their methodology. Oscar nominees get points for being nominated for or winning other awards that historically predict the Oscars. The better a historical predictor a given award is, the more points it’s worth. Here’s the state of the race for the top six Oscar categories as predicted by FiveThreeEight.com with their reasoning below:
This is one of the most interesting categories, with 90 percent of the points coming from four award shows: the Golden Globes, the Critics’ Choice Awards, the BAFTAs and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Alicia Vikander — whose performance in “Ex Machina” was also considered an Oscar contender — was an early favorite of oddsmakers. But anything can happen, and veteran performers like Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams can’t be counted out.
Did anyone walk out of “Creed” muttering to herself, “My god, Sylvester Stallone is the best actor this year!” No? Well, he’s somehow in the running. Outstanding performances by other nominees – restless fact finders played by Mark Ruffalo and Christian Bale, levelheaded competence by Mark Rylance and backwoods sociopathy by Tom Hardy – make this a profoundly tough category in which to pick a winner.
Based on the early nominations buzz, this was supposed to be a three-way race between Cate Blanchett, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, but Larson cleaned up at the early award shows. While apparently getting kind of lost in the woods is enough to take a big lead in the best actor category, it turns out that for actresses, getting locked in a room by a monster for years was just the ticket.
The Academy is weighing five legendary performances on which to bestow the best actor award: Leonardo DiCaprio in the first fifth of “The Revenant,” Leonardo DiCaprio in the scene with the bear, Leonardo DiCaprio toward the end of “The Revenant,” the part in “The Revenant” with Leonardo DiCaprio and the bison liver, and Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Departed.” I can’t wait to see who wins this category.
This group of directors made a wide array of stylistic choices: We had the understatement of Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight,” the spectacle of RIDING INTO VALHALLA, SHINY AND CHROME! from George Miller, the method-to-the-point-of-madness of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” and the snark of Adam McKay‘s “The Big Short.” Whoever wins top prize at the Directors Guild Awards has typically gone on to win the Oscar, but we also live in a world where McKay, the guy who made “Anchorman,” was nominated for an Academy Award; anything is possible.
This batch of nominees is weird, with the potential for a legitimately tight race. There are three period pieces, two psychological interrogations of solitude, two films highlighting an investigation into systemic wrongdoing, and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Historically, the rule has been never to bet against the film with an explosive guitar player riding on a war machine, but I may be misremembering the plot of “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”