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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Art of Predicting the Oscars


Today Variety published the Ultimate Awards Guide and perhaps the most interesting news are the facts and factoids about the Academy's members and its history. If you wish to read/browse the full publication go here, is free and open to everyone. How do you use the following data perhaps will help you to obtain better Oscar prediction skills to win your office pool or any of the many prediction games that Oscar generates.

The following are some curious Oscar data; it includes data from the 2012 LA Times survey.

Academy Membership Profile
94% White
2% Black
2% Latino
2% Other

77% Male
23% Female

14% are younger than 50 years old
86% are 50 or older
Median age: 62 years

Members live in
Los Angeles 89%
New York 7%
London 3%
Santa Barbara 0.8%
San Francisco 0.5%

The profile tells us that Academy members probably does NOT look like you and me; it is safe to assume that also we tend to like different things in our movies.  So when predicting their behavior we should not think about what we like but about what they most likely prefer in their movies.

AMPAS' 2012 Branch Count
Branch
Active
Actors
1,178
Art Directors
370
Cinematographers
212
Directors
371
Documentary
173
Executives
447
Film Editors
227
Makeup/Hair
124
Music
231
Producers
462
Public Relations
371
Shorts/Feature Animation
354
Sound
402
Visual Effects
302
Writers
377
Members-at-large
255
TOTAL VOTING MEMBERS
5,856
Associates (non-voting)
158

As we already know or suspected, the Actors Branch has the largest amount of active voters (1,178), followed by Producers (462), Sound (402), Writers (377), Directors (371), Art Directors (370), Visual Effects (302), Film Editors (227), and others that also have Guilds or associations that give yearly awards; but besides Actors, Guilds/Associations yearly winners tell us not that much about possible Oscar winners as each group has not a significant number of Academy members and each group has many more members that are NOT Academy members. Also there are more voting Academy members (1,600) that do not belong to any workers union but they vote to decide winners.

That is why guessing the Best Picture category can sometimes be not that easy, like for example when The King's Speech won when everyone was expecting the more popular (with younger audience profile) The Social Network to be the top winner. Definitively the first is a good movie that better fits the Academy members profile, even when some branches suggested slightly different.

More curious data.

28 Actors have been nominated for playing royalty, 7 won.
8 Actors have been nominated for playing USA President, 0 won.

The 85th edition has in the Best Actor category Daniel Day-Lewis for his performance in Lincoln as the favorite and IF he wins, will be the FIRST time an actor playing US President wins.

No more interesting data, what follows are instructions on how to vote (we thank Variety for helping the majority of Academy members that probably are not much tech savvy), contenders profiles with suggestions and people praising other people.  Indeed magazine seems more addressed to the industry than to us, but it's kind of especial to be able to browse what Industry and Academy members are exposed to.

From all articles, that look more "For Your Consideration" than anything else, perhaps this one is the best because who wrote it and the subject of her comments.

CATE BLANCHETT ON MARION COTILLARD
in ‘Rust and Bone’

A woman loses her legs in freak accident with killer whale after forming a bond with a drifter-bouncer who rescues her dignity from a nightclub brawl. A cinematic miracle has taken place in “Rust and Bone.” Not only has such a rare and high-stakes situation been rendered plausible but also electrifying.That this bizarre set of circumstances has resulted in a film of such revelatory emotional depth is surely because the soul-searching buoyancy of Marion Cotillard has collided with the unhinged Matthias Schoenaerts. To say the performances are hypnotic is an understatement. Marion has created a unique and groundbreaking combination of the erotic, the banal and incendiary. In “Rust and Bone,” she once again reminds us she is a master of unflinching psychological complexity delivered with a featherweight touch. She allows us in only long enough to reflect our deepest fears back on ourselves. This film surely crowns her as an actress with little regard for the power of her cinematic beauty, except when she can harness it to reveal the hidden depth to her character and her existential melancholy: a yearning that is simultaneously so open and generous, so closed and defended that we weep for her. She is, in a breath, simply astonishing. Yet again.

So the art of predicting the Oscars has something to do with analyzing numbers from the past and then predict future, but also has much to do about guessing true influencers, those that generate buzz that will touch Academy members and move them to do a specific action. The second work is done by many in the Industry, but we "normal" beings have access only to the critics.

Ah! and now for the first time we have Variety open to everyone. Cheers!

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