Last week, I did a little statistical analysis of the 30 most recent Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards, and how their other nominations might have telegraphed their success (or lack thereof) in the Big Prize. Based on that quick and dirty analysis, I had forecast that “The Social Network” would win Best Picture this year, with regrets, since I really don’t think it’s a particularly good or important movie.
Within hours of posting that piece, though, I was feeling guilty about the shabbiness and incompleteness of my analysis, both in terms of not going deeply enough (30 years out of 82 isn’t enough), nor going broadly enough (I picked the “major” awards, but there are more “minor” ones out there, and what if the real meaningful correlations took place there?) I’m a researcher, dammit, and putting half-assed work out in the public domain was not acceptable. I apologize for doing so.
To rectify this situation, I created the complete database of all Best Picture winners back to the dawn of the Academy Awards, and what other nominations they received in all of the current award categories. I then crunched numbers to develop a formula for calculating the likelihood of a Best Picture win based on what other nominations each film receives. There were, indeed, some additional trends that emerged by taking a longer view: Film Editing became almost as important as Cinematography in predicted Best Picture success, for example, while having a Best Song or Best Visual Effects nomination became even more kisses of death for wannabe Best Pictures.
I calculated that “From Here to Eternity” (1953) was the most obvious Best Picture winner in history, given the spectrum of other awards for which it was nominated. I then plugged in this year’s ten nominees, ran the numbers, and now make a revised pick for Best Picture of 2010.
“The King’s Speech” finished first of this year’s contenders for the big prize, and it did it by a good margin, with “True Grit” and “The Social Network” finishing second and third. If “The King’s Speech” wins this year, it would be the 11th “most obvious” winner, based on its other nominations, in Oscar history, putting it in good company, indeed.
Here is the complete list of all Best Picture winners from “most obvious” to “least obvious,” with this year’s ten nominees interspersed for perspective (they are in bold). The titles of the films have been abbreviated, but you can go look up the years to figure them out if they’re not obvious. Geek out, movie nerds!
|Best Pic||Rating Of Performance vs 100% Ideal Perfect Film|
|1939||Gone W Wind||85.5%|
|2010 Nom||Kings Speech||81.1%|
|1990||D W Wolves||77.4%|
|1941||How Green Vall||73.5%|
|1944||Going My Way||71.2%|
|2010 Nom||True Grit||64.0%|
|2010 Nom||Social Network||63.1%|
|1949||All King’s Men||56.4%|
|1938||Can’t Take It W/||52.5%|
|1967||Heat of Night||48.9%|
|2010 Nom||The Fighter||46.4%|
|1934||Hap One Night||38.0%|
|2010 Nom||Black Swan||36.9%|
|2010 Nom||127 Hours||35.8%|
|1952||G. Show Earth||26.7%|
|2010 Nom||Winters Bone||23.3%|
|2010 Nom||Kids All Right||17.6%|
|2010 Nom||Toy Story 3||12.2%|