Every year since 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized outstanding achievement in film with their prestigious Academy Award, or Oscar. Before the winners in various categories are announced, there is intense media and public interest in predicting who will come away from the awards ceremony with an Oscar statuette. There are no end of theories about which nominees are most likely to win, yet despite this, there continue to be major surprises when the winners are announced. This research frames the question of predicting the four major awards - picture, director, actor in a leading role, actress in a leading role - as a discrete choice problem. It is then possible to predict the winners in these four categories with a reasonable degree of success. The analysis also reveals which past results might be considered truly surprising - nominees with low estimated probability of winning who have overcome nominees who were strongly favored to win.
Over the period 1939-2022, the model correctly predicted 237 out of 336 awards (71%). (There was only sufficient data for the model to be able to predict from 1939 onwards.) Broken down by category, correct predictions were 69% for Best Picture, 83% for Director, 71% for Lead Actor, and 58% for Lead Actress. Until recently, predicting has become easier over time. For example, over the last 47 years (1976-2022), the model correctly predicted 149 out of 188 awards (79%). Broken down by category, correct predictions for this period were 68% for Best Picture, 91% for Director, 81% for Lead Actor, and 77% for Lead Actress. Over the last 17 years (2006-2022), the model correctly predicted 52 out of 68 awards (76%).
- Latest predictions: 2023 (Awards ceremony Mar 12, 2023)
- Previous published predictions (76% accuracy):
- Full research article - co-authored with Dean K. Simonton, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society) 171(2), 375-394, 2008.
- Updated abridged version - Significance 4(4), 168-173, 2007.
- Original abridged version - Chance 18(4), 32-39, 2005.
- Complete Results - ordered by year, 1939-2021.
- Best Picture - ordered from most to least surprising.
- Director - ordered from most to least surprising.
- Lead Actor - ordered from most to least surprising.
- Lead Actress - ordered from most to least surprising.
- Iain Pardoe's research page (data and code for making the predictions are available here).
- Dean K. Simonton's home page.
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