Last year I built an Oscar Prediction Aggregator, which we used for NIHF’s official Academy Awards Predictions. The model proved quite formidable correctly guessing 17 out of the 24 categories. This year instead of using the tool for our official predictions we are using it to create a guide for you to use to win any Oscars Predictions Contests you may be a part of, speaking of those competitions if you haven’t yet join ours here.

Simply put our Oscar Prediction Aggregator scours the web for sites with Oscar predictions that got 50% of their guesses correct in a previous year. It then aggregates their current projections weighting those predictions according to their accuracy in past years. In this guide we will cover the categories where the winner is all but a sure thing, where there is a likely winner, but you should be cautious of spoilers, where the leader only has a slight lead, and an upset is probable, and finally where it is an actual toss-up, and they will likely decide your competition. In presenting these, I will offer the probabilities of each nominee winning according to our model along with some insight into what might happen in the category. It is worth noting that in our model there is the chance that some nominees have no chance of winning their group, in which case they will not show up.

Pick the leader or lose a free point

I don’t agree with about half of these being deserving of the award; I will however be picking each of them in their respective categories. In many of these cases if the leaders lose I will be rejoicing so do not cry to me if these cause you to lose to some filthy guesser (I welcome all guessers in my competitions and acknowledge they are just good clean friends who want to participate).

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Gary OldmanTimothee ChalametDaniel Day-LewisDaniel Kaluuya
79.31%16.57%2.87%1.15%

Despite Timmy currently being Hollywood’s sweetheart, he will not be able to wrestle the Statue from the Fat Commissioner’s hands from his stint as Churchill. Oldman will likely be getting The Darkest Hour’s only Academy Award.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Frances McDormandSaoirse RonanSally HawkinsMargot RobbieMeryl Streep
82.76%6.90%6.32%3.45%0.57%

One of the safest categories this year, Francine has it. No one comes close. That being said I learned a long time ago never to write off Streep, no one would ridicule you for predicting a win from her despite her less than a 1% chance of victory according to the model.

Best Animated Feature

CocoThe BreadwinnerLoving VincentBoss Baby
83.65%7.69%5.77%2.88%

In a category that includes Boss Baby is it any surprise that the Pixar film is going to take home the prize? The Breadwinner may be more deserving of its statement, but its political message makes too many people uncomfortable. In contrast, Loving Vincent might deserve it for its fantastical style but lacks a poignant enough message to win this year. Coco is just happy and feel-goody enough to wipe away the competition. This year Best Animated Feature will use a Preferential Voting System just like best Picture uses, so perhaps all logic should be thrown out the window.

Best Costume Design

Phantom ThreadThe Shape of WaterBeauty and the Beast
85.92%8.45%5.63%

This is the category in which our model has assigned the highest probability to a single nominee. However, this is a hard category to guess, and last year everyone was shocked when Suicide Squad swept in and stole the trophy, you read that right that DCEU (or no UE I don’t even know anymore) film is an Oscar-winning film.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Darkest HourWonderThe Shape of WaterVictoria & Abdul
79.49%8.97%6.41%5.13%
Truthfully 79.59%Truthfully 9.58%Truthfully 0.00%Truthfully 5.48%

I don’t think that both Gary and the Fat Suit should both win Oscars, but that is what the experts are saying. Despite not even receiving a nomination some of the supposed “experts” still pegged The Shape of Water to win the category, DO NOT follow their lead. Crazy as it is I think the creepy fish from the interspecies romance is more deserving but apparently that is just a bunch of blubber.

Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay

Call Me by Your NameMudboundMolly’s GameLoganThe Disaster Artist
81.30%12.20%3.25%1.63%1.63%

Superhero movie lovers cry your heart out for Logan because your tears are the only thing Logan is getting Sunday night. This category goes to an Identity Crisis.

Frontrunners, Beware of Spoilers

Now we are getting to the categories that many people are claiming to be a sure thing, and I am here to tell you which ones might get spoiled and by whom. The truth is that a lot of these categories are just complicated to predict, that all being said you would have to be pretty gutsy to against the grain in too many of these categories.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Sam RockwellWillem DafoeChristopher PlummerRichard Jenkins
74.53%21.74%1.86%1.86%

Papa Goblin is rated as high as he is primarily from being a lot of people’s second up pick, so you are probably safest sticking with Sam.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Allison JanneyLaurie MetcalfLesley ManvilleMary J. Blige
70.19%26.09%2.48%1.24%

Now we’re talking about a category that could hold some surprises. Early in the awards season, Ms. Metcalf was the favorite, but in recent weeks Allison has been stealing her thunder and accolades. I don’t know which way I will go with my final predictions for this category; both women play the protective mother in their respective films quite well.

Best Director

Guillermo del ToroChristopher NolanJordan PeeleGreta Gerwig
73.56%14.94%8.05%3.45%

Guillermo will win. Nolan’s movies are too abstract for the old academy and also safe for the new academy so he probably will lose out too. Fun fact did you know the D in del Toro is not supposed to be capitalized? I didn’t.

Best Film Editing

DunkirkBaby DriverThe Shape of WaterThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
61.64%23.29%12.33%2.74%

This is where Dunkirk’s confusing timeline will finally pay off. It might be confusing, but the fact that it is in any way possible to follow is a victory of Editing. Additionally, war movies often win this category, see Hacksaw Ridge a year ago.

Best Production Design

The Shape of WaterBlade Runner 2049Beauty and the BeastDunkirkDarkest Hour
64.38%26.03%4.11%4.11%1.37%

Ah, production design, the award that is intended to go to the film that did the best job of immersing you in its world. Shapely Water has a high chance of winning, but I wouldn’t rule out the immersive and underseen future film, then again how can you see a movie that won’t come out for 31 more years.

Best Sound Editing

DunkirkBaby DriverThe Shape of WaterBlade Runner 2049Star Wars: The Last Jedi
69.86%9.59%9.59%8.22%2.74%

Disclaimer: I still don’t understand the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. I get it, but not really, and truth be told neither do most of the self-proclaimed Oscars experts. This is evidenced by the similarity in the predictions made across the two categories by the Aggregator.

Best Sound Mixing

DunkirkBaby DriverBlade Runner 2049The Shape of Water
71.23%20.55%5.48%2.74%

There are a couple of things I have picked up about the two categories over the years. First, these awards only go to the same film about half of the time. Second, war movies often win both awards. Third, Sound Editing usually goes to movies where the sound is frequently used to tell abstract parts of the story; see Arrival, Gravity, and Inception. This year I have a feeling that Baby Driver might fit that mold and beat out Dunkirk in Sound Mixing, but that isn’t what the numbers say.

Best Visual Effects

War for the Planet of the ApesBlade Runner 2049Star Wars: The Last JediGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
72.60%23.29%2.74%1.37%

The team behind the new Apes Trilogy deserves this award way more than anyone else nominated. This is my all-time favorite movie trilogy, so you won’t hear me arguing against it.

Think you can Call the Upset?

We are getting to the categories where the frontrunners are only a coin flip away from missing out on the big prize. The Academy Awards are known for surprises, but most of the categories in this section are difficult to predict, and thus surprises are expected. These will be the hardest to get right because of how likely “upsets” are to occur, so if you can get them right and predict the dark horse victories, you will be in good standing to win the night. Remember, all categories both big and small only count for one point.

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049DunkirkThe Shape of WaterMudbound
59.77%19.54%14.94%5.75%

Ah, cinematography, if done poorly it can ruin a film, and if done well it goes mostly unnoticed. It would not be surprising to see Dunkirk’s pretty shots beat Blade Runner’s lovely shots, but I don’t think it will. Nearly every review of the futuristic flick praised its cinematography or visuals in one way or another with the Visual Effect award likely going to War for the Planet of the Apes voters might have sympathy towards Replicants and vote for them here.

Best Documentary Feature

Faces PlacesLast Men in AleppoIcarusAbacus: Small Enough to JailStrong Island
50.00%19.79%17.71%7.29%5.21%

There are two types of Best Documentary Feature races: Those that have a film everyone’s heard of and those without. This year is later which makes it nigh impossible to predict. Faces Places is the favorite and is a beautiful and impactful piece of art, but after watching it, you are left wondering what the point of it was. In contrast, its most significant competition is a poignant piece about the search and rescue teams working to save lives during the Syrian Civil War. The only thing working against it is the extreme similarity to last year’s Best Documentary Short winner “The White Helmets.” Even Icarus after that covers more meaningful subject matter.

Best Documentary Short

Edith+EddieHeroin(e)Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405Traffic StopKnife Skills
52.05%27.40%12.33%5.48%2.74%

Every film in this category is a topical heavy hitter making it difficult to offer further insight into which will take home the gold. Edith+Eddie has the numbers and is the most personable making it a relatively safe bet.

Best Foreign Language Film

A Fantastic WomanThe SquareLovelessThe InsultToni Erdmann
55.88%21.57%9.80%6.86%5.21%

The Academy loves making a Statement with this category, the top film here does just that.

Best Original Music Score

The Shape of WaterPhantom ThreadDunkirkStar Wars: The Last Jedi
59.14%26.88%9.68%4.30%

Ignite those lightsabers and use them as batons to lead the orchestra in playing through the scores of the other nominees because one of them will be getting the little gold man. Fret not though, John Williams holds the record for the most Oscar nominations with 51; he has taken home 4.

Best Original Song

Remember MeThis Is MeMystery of LoveMighty RiverStand up for Something
56.16%35.62%5.48%1.37%1.37%

The experts pining for Coco’s “Remember Me” talk about it like it is a sure thing, but in reality, this is one of the closest categories with only a 20.54% difference between it and “This Is Me.”

Best Animated Short Film

Dear BasketballLouNegative SpaceGarden PartyRevolting Rhymes
45.21%24.66%19.18%8.22%2.74%

There are three very strong contenders in this category, and all three of them go for the feels. You have Kobe’s love story VS a Monster’s Inc. spin-off VS a father-son classic. This is one of the most challenging categories to call this year, your guess between those three is as good as mine.

Best Writing for an Original Screenplay

Get OutThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriLady BirdThe Big SickThe Shape of Water
51.94%27.13%18.60%1.55%0.78%

At first, I was sure this category was going to go to Get Out and be the film and Jordan Peele’s big win for the night, but both Three Billboards and Lady Bird have good chances of winning this award. Interestingly enough, these three films each have a good chance of spoiling Best Picture for The Shape of Water. I am inclined to believe the experts and give Get Out edge, but it’s anybody’s guess.

Deciding Category Here’s Where You Win or Lose

These final two categories are so uncertain they very likely will give the deciding points in any Oscars competition you are taking part of. One of these categories is usually easy to call while the other is often quite difficult. I think I have the magic answer for the typically more difficult one of the two.

Best Picture

The Shape of WaterThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriGet OutLady BirdDunkirkCall Me by Your Name
40.22%32.96%16.76%6.70%2.23%1.12%

Usually, the best picture race has a very clear frontrunner going into voting, but I’m afraid after the last couple years of predictions generally being very off (especially with EVERYONE wrongly pegging La La Land a year ago) predictors are over-correcting with their guesses this year leading to the mixed bag you see here. Conventional wisdom suggests either Wet Love or 3 Signs will win the big one, but conventional wisdom has often been wrong since Preferential Voting was put into place in 2008. I’d take a look at James England’s Model to see who should win (https://jameseng.land/Oscars-2018). He has correctly predicted Best Picture since he began publishing his predictions in 2015, that is the best record I know of.

Best Live Action Short Film

DeKalb ElementaryThe Silent ChildMy Nephew EmmettThe Eleven o’ClockWatu Wote: All of Us
39.51%29.63%14.81%8.64%7.41%

Typically, this is one of the most difficult categories to predict and this year appears to be the same. That said trust me when I tell you to go with the frontrunner DeKalb Elementary. After the tragedy in Parkland Florida, the subject matter of this short film is too relevant and too important for the filmmakers not to win the prize and get the chance to dedicate the award to the recent victims.

Good Luck!

I wish you the best in all of your Academy Award Prediction competitions. Unless you join ours in which case I want to you slightly less luck as I will compete. I won’t be following the script I laid out for you precisely this year, so hopefully, I go off script in the right places, and you do too.

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