Our 3 best Oscar predictors reveal their secrets

Among the 3,200 people who made Oscar predictions at Gold Derby, three guys had top scores but weren’t eligible to win the $1,000 prize because they aren’t U.S. citizens, as required by our contest rules. Therefore, the sum went to Oliver Davidson, a resident of Houston, Texas, who landed in sixth place in our leaderboards. See our profile of him here.

Why was Jack Mathews so sure ‘Birdman’ would win the Oscar for Best Picture?

Two other high-ranked participants were also declared ineligible because they’re part of the Gold Derby editorial team: first place Daniel Montgomery and third-ranked Riley Chow (“thedemonhog”).

All six of our top-ranked players had impressive scores. See leaderboard at right or click here.

How did they do it?

Jeremy Parilla (screen name “Jeremy”), age 28, is a copyeditor/proofreader for Metro Manila in the Philippines. He tied Montgomery for highest rate of accuracy: 96%. The only category out of 24 that Parilla got wrong was Best Original Screenplay. He opted for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” over winner “Birdman.” See Parilla’s full predictions.

“I’d always predicted ‘Birdman’ for Best Picture and Director because it’s about the industry and it’s an acting and technical showcase, which I thought would make the movie relatable and ‘award-worthy’ across the branches. Plus, ‘Birdman’ has a single person/character (Michael Keaton and/or Riggan) members would be rooting for when they voted. ‘Boyhood‘ just doesn’t have these.

Parilla picked “Whiplash” for Best Editing because “It’s an editing showcase (vs. ‘Boyhood’) and I thought it had more support across the board.” He went with Alexandre Desplat (“Grand Budapest”) for Best Score because “Desplat was nominated for a movie well-loved across the branches and was ‘overdue.’ Not sure we could say the same for Johann Johannsson.” And he went with “Big Hero 6” for Best Animated Feature because of “Baymax! He’s a character voters would root for.”

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Louis-Francois Archambault-Therrien (screen name “Louis”), age 21, is a film student from Montreal, Quebec. He scored 92% accuracy, meaning he only missed two of the 24 categories. For Best Score, he went with “The Theory of Everything” instead of “Grand Budapest,” while for Best Animated Feature, he agreed with the consensus and thought “How to Train Your Dragon 2” would win instead of “Big Hero 6.” See Archambault-Therrien’s full predictions.

“It was a big surprise for me to have had a good score in my predictions,” admits Archambault-Therrien. “How did I make my predictions for the Oscars? I followed the various ceremonies during the race, especially the Guilds. The two favorites were ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Birdman,’ but Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was the favorite in the Guilds, so I felt he had the momentum for the big night. I hesitated to predict [a split] for Best Picture and Best Director, but I decided to keep ‘Birdman’ as winners of both.

“I saw most of the films nominated for the ceremony, so I could see the qualities of the films, and it helped me to see predictions of other Experts. For example, in Best Film Editing, ‘Boyhood’ seemed to be the favorite, but I thought the editing was more impressive for ‘Whiplash.’ Ultimately, I think I was very lucky to have managed such a score, especially as the race was relatively close in certain categories, including the most important.”

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Liam Gadd (screen name “Gaddinator”) is a student living in Dublin, Ireland. He also had 92% accuracy, missing only Best Animated Feature (he predicted “Dragon”) and Best Live Action Short (he predicted “Boogaloo and Graham”). See Gadd’s full predictions.

“In truth, I’m still in shock that I did so well,” notes Gadd. “I took a number of risks, which I thought was appropriate considering how open of a year it was. I made two last minute switches, both in the Screenplay categories. I initially had ‘Whiplash’ in Adapted and ‘Grand Budapest’ in Original. With the former, I switched to ‘The Imitation Game’ due to the Weinstein factor and the guild support. With the latter, I had already predicted ‘Birdman’ and Inarritu, and considering only once since 2004 had a Best Picture winner failed to win a Screenplay award, I had to go with ‘Birdman’ in that category.

“‘Whiplash’ in Editing was just a cheeky wildcard pick. I had a feeling that ‘Boyhood’ was more vulnerable than many expected and that ‘Whiplash’ was going to win more than two Oscars due to its strong support. Of the two that I got wrong, Best Animated Feature was a case of personal bias towards ‘HTTYD2’ and its previous award wins. I was too risky when it came to Live-Action Short.”

Make your own Emmys picks now — click here — or scroll down to predict the Best Drama Series winner using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Best predictions will win $1,000. And the 24 Users with the best scores advance to a team to compete against our Experts and Editors next year. Meet the guy who won our contest to predict the Emmys last year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar. Register/log in to your account so you can also compete to predict “The Walking Dead,” “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” and more.

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