Predicting the Oscars (2003)

Hey everyone, this year I've decided to share with you all my fool-proof method of predicting the Oscars. Well that may be pushing it a little bit, nobody has a foolproof method, but I did get more right the last 2 years than Entertainment Weekly and the New York Times. Anyway, I've noticed (as have others) that certain types of movies and stars win year after year. So here are a few tips to help you win your office Oscar pool.

Editor's Note: This is presented as written in 2003. Much of this logic holds up, but some trends have changed.

Best Picture

First of all, there are several factors that help predict the Best Picture winner:

  • Genre: Since 1927, 39% of the Best Picture winners have been Dramas, only 17% have been comedies. Only three Westerns has ever won Best Picture, and only a handful of musicals.
  • Another thing: The Academy loves period pieces (think: Ben-Hur, Ghandi, Titanic, and Gladiator)
  • Popularity: About 7 out of 10 times the most popular movie wins: Titanic, Gladiator. This works better in recent years. In the old days, movies like Star Wars and E.T.:The Extra Terrestrial were hindered by their box-office success.
  • Length: The longest nominated film wins almost 50% of the time.
  • The Director: Never bet on a movie winning Best Picture if it's Director isn't nominated. Only three times in history has a movie won without it's director being nominated.
  • Nominations: The movie with the most other nominations often takes home the gold.

Best Director

This is part of the key in picking Best Picture as well. Only about 20 times has the Best Director award not gone to the Best Picture. (though it has happened more recently). The key to picking this award lies in the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild Award. Almost 90% of the time, whoever takes home the DGA will win the Oscar. Add to that the fact that no one has ever won the DGA and the Golden Globe for Directing and gone on to lose for Best Director. Of course this seems too good to last, but for now it hold's true.

Best Actor/Actress

In this category, it's all about the character you play:

  • Real people: Geoffrey Rush, Sissy Spacek, Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Muni, F. Murray Abraham, Susan Sarandon and many others have won for portraying real people.
  • Insane (or mentally unstable) characters: Anthony Hopkins in Silence Of The Lambs, Kathy Bates in Misery, Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and As Good As It Gets, Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, Anjelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted
  • Characters with disabilities (especially mental disabilities): Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman and Marlee Matlin in Children Of A Lesser God are perfect examples of this.
  • Look for very old actors, especially well established (or veteran) actors who've never won before.
  • Also, be on the look-out for big name actors nominated for supporting roles.

Best Screenplay

Again, several key factors:

  • Best Picture: Only once between 1979 and 1994 did the Best picture winner not take home the Best Screenplay award. That movie was Patton. However, since 1994, Braveheart, The English Patient, Titanic and Gladiator have lost Best Screenplay.
  • Actors: A recent trend, actors who write screenplays take home the award. Billy Bob Thornton for Slingblade, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting and Emma Thompson for Sense and Sensability are examples of this recent trend.
  • Finally, Independent films have done very well in this category in recent years

Best Foreign Language Film

In this category, the most popular film usually wins. If it has been widely released in the United States or is nominated for any other awards (especially screenplay or Best Picture) it almost always wins. Just look at the last few years, the awards have all gone to films that were widely released in the U.S. and/or had other nominations. (Life Is Beautiful, All About My Mother and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

Best Original Song

Oh Hell, just pick the latest Disney song!!!

Best Documentary

The key here is to pick the film directed by the person who has the hardest name to pronounce. Actually films about World War Two or show business usually fare pretty well.

Best Makeup

This award almst always goes to some sort of Science Fiction movie (The Fly, Harry And The Hendersons, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Men In Black, and Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring are just a few examples)

Best Animated Short

Pixar pretty much wins this one ever year these days.

Best Costume Design

Ths generally goes to either period peices with complex costumes or Fantasy with complex costumes. Look for the movie with the most eye-catching costumes that still seem realistic.