When the BAFTA Awards air this Sunday, February 12 no category will be more crucial to watch than Best Actress, as that could help determine which leading lady will go on to prevail at the Oscars. While Emma Stone seems to be enjoying an easy ride on the “La La Land” victory wave, Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) and Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) should not be counted out for an Oscar upset (though Huppert’s film was not eligible at BAFTAs). Let’s crunch the numbers and look at what needs to happen, statistically, for an upset to occur on Oscar night.
On the path to Best Actress glory, no win is more important than the SAG Award. Fifteen of the last 20 SAG winners (75%) have gone on to win the Oscar. This statistic is the most powerful for Stone and the reason she’s the current frontrunner. But while it was an important win over Portman, Huppert wasn’t even nominated here.
The second best precursor, the Critics’ Choice Award, went to Portman. With 12 of the last Critics’ Choice winners (60%) eventually claiming the Oscar, Portman enjoys a nice surge in momentum here. It doesn’t hurt that she defeated both Huppert and Stone with this victory.
Next we have the Golden Globes. While Huppert and Portman faced off in the drama category, Stone was competing in comedy/musical. Historically, winning Best Drama Actress has proven the most beneficial, with 12 of the last 20 winners (60%) holding on to take the Oscar. This is the most significant boost for Huppert, the only contender from a foreign language film this year.
Stone’s win in the comedy/musical category follows in the footsteps of just five of the last 20 Oscar winners (25%), which isn’t great news for her but it could be worse. Only one woman, Frances McDormand (“Fargo” in 1996), has been nominated at the Globes for Best Comedy Actress, lost, and rebounded to win the Oscar. So although it is a seemingly less prestigious prize, it matters that she won.
Now, BAFTA is where things get really interesting. With Portman winning Critics’ Choice and Stone taking SAG, this award could actually sway the statistics. While only 11 of the last 20 BAFTA winners (55%) have become eventual Oscar champs, that percentage, factored in with everything else, could sway the ranks. Let’s take a look at how the entire Best Actress race matches up, statistically, without BAFTA:
1. Emma Stone (“La La Land”) – SAG win, Golden Globe Comedy/Musical win, Critics’ Choice nomination
2. Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) – Critics’ Choice win, SAG nomination, Golden Globe Drama nomination
3. Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) – Golden Globe Drama win, Critics’ Choice nomination
4. Meryl Streep (“Florence Foster Jenkins”) – SAG nomination, Golden Globe Comedy/Musical nomination
5. Ruth Negga (“Loving”) – Critics’ Choice nomination, Golden Globe Drama nomination
Regardless of what happens at BAFTA, neither Streep nor Negga factor in based on stats. However, if Portman were to pull off an upset here, it would be enough for her to move ahead of Stone, based purely on the data. If Portman loses, you can forget about her along with Streep and Negga. That is how important this is for Portman!
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