The Academy Awards are on ABC Sunday night, and Nate Silver has applied his statistical divination skills to predict winners in six Oscar categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
Silver first gained attention after developing a system for forecasting the performance of Major League Baseball players. In 2012, he successfully predicted the Presidential election in all 50 states and the US Senate races in 31 of 33 states.
Nate was unhappy with the method he used when he tried to predict winners in 2009 and 2011. He got 9 out of 12 predictions right, but this year he hopes to do better by focusing on winners of awards that have preceded the Academy Awards.
In his FiveThirtyEight column, Nate explains that different awards are given more or less weight based on who is voting. Since the SAG Awards are voted upon by Academy members, those awards have historically been a better predictor than the Golden Globes, which are voted upon by journalists.
Best Picture: Argo
Zero Dark Thirty is the critic’s pick for best picture, but, since they don’t vote for the Oscars, Nate predicts Argo will win. It’s won top awards given out by directors, producer, actors, writers, and editors.
Best Director: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Often the winner of Best Director is the director of the Best Picture winner, but Argo Director Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated in this category. Silver’s stats give Spielberg the win, but his number have Spielberg just slightly ahead of Ang Lee for Life of Pi.
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
The Best Actor stats aren’t even close. Daniel Day-Lewis has one all but two of the Awards used to make the predictions.
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
The Best Actress category is more competitive than Best Actor. Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook is only a little ahead of Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty.
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Nate Silver calls Best Supporting Actor the most competitive category because there are sentimental reasons the Academy might give the award to another actor. For example, Robert De Niro hasn’t won since 1981 for his role in Raging Bull. According to the numbers, though, Tommy Lee will win.
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables
Anne Hathaway is so far ahead of the competition in the Best Supporting Actress category that Silver says, if she doesn’t win, he should retire from making Oscar Predictions.
According to The Hollywood Report, Nate Silver has done statistical work for a movie studio in the past working on box-office predictions, and he’s interested in doing more. If his Oscar predictions are right, he may start to get the same kind of attention from Hollywood that he gets from Washington, D.C.
Do you agree with Nate Silver? What are your Academy Awards predictions for 2013?