Were you shocked that “Moonlight” defeated the overwhelming frontrunner “La La Land” for Best Picture? Steve Hill wasn’t. Despite a year with multiple upsets he dominated our predictions contest with 83.33% correct — that’s 20 out of 24 categories in which he picked the winner, including Best Picture, where he was one of the few to foresee the “Moonlight” upset (see the complete Oscar predictions leaderboard here). How did he know that would happen?
To him this felt like an Oscar contest from 11 years ago. “I was thinking in terms of when ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was predicted to win everything, and it won Best Director, but it didn’t win Best Picture — ‘Crash’ won that year,” Hill explains. “And it just looked like ‘La La Land’ was going to sweep the board, and I thought it’s going to be one of those occasions where it’s not going to get Best Picture, and everything seemed like ‘Moonlight’ was coming up, so that’s why he chose that one in the end.”
Hill defeated every single one of Gold Derby’s Experts, Editors, Top 24 Users (who got the highest scores predicting last year’s winners), All Star Top 24 (who did the best when you combine the last two years) and thousands of total Users, but in such a confounding year even Hill had his notable blind spots. He thought Denzel Washington (“Fences”) was a “shoo-in” for Best Actor, but that award went to Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”). He also missed Best Production Design, picking “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” instead of the ultimate winner “La La Land.” He also missed Best Documentary Feature (“Fire at Sea” instead of “O.J.: Made in America”) and Best Live Action Short (“Timecode” instead of “Sing”).
But he did manage to figure out the unusual split in the sound categories where “Arrival” won Sound Editing while “Hacksaw Ridge” claimed Sound Mixing. Not bad for a predictor who hasn’t seen any of the Best Picture nominees. “I’ve seen very few of these films,” he admits. “I’ve seen two all the way through: ‘Rogue One’ and ‘Moana’ because I have a seven-year-old daughter … I haven’t actually seen any of the Best Picture nominees.”
Our 2016 Oscar predictions contest winner also made most of her predictions before having seen the films. So it goes to show that sometimes the biggest pitfall of Oscar predicting is having a vested interest in the outcomes. Did the rest of us put too much stock in our favorites? Or did we perhaps cynically assume the academy wouldn’t like the same films we did? Watch our complete chat with Hill above, and discuss this and more in our forums.