Why 2 Oscar experts predicted ‘Moonlight’ upset for Best Picture

Out of the 30 notable Oscar experts polled by Gold Derby, only two correctly predicted that “Moonlight” would win Best Picture over frontrunner “La La Land”: Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and Matt Atchity (Rotten Tomatoes). How did they know?

“I had a sneaking suspicion we might see a split this year between the two films,” Atchity tells  Gold Derby. “I thought the preferential voting was going to help ‘Moonlight’ and hurt ‘La La Land.’ There had been that rumbling backlash for ‘La La Land’ that I think played out in a preferential system, and we hadn’t seen that for ‘Moonlight.'”

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Stone believes that the omission of “La La Land” from the nominees for Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards was our early clue that it was vulnerable. “The film lacked the SAG ensemble stat (so did ‘Gravity,’ so did ‘The Revenant’) which meant it did not have the full support of the actors. That hurts it for Best Picture. I ran a few Facebook polls this year and ‘Moonlight’ kept coming out on top. Another poll I ran ‘Moonlight’ again came out on top. What I found with the preferential ballot was that people kept putting ‘Moonlight’ ahead on their ballots. So fans of ‘Hidden Figures,’ ‘Hell or High Water,’ ‘Fences,’ ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ all ranked ‘Moonlight’ higher than ‘La La Land,’ which tended to be a favorite among women voters. And as we know, the Academy is made up more of men. There was an urgency to push ‘Moonlight’ up the ballot and that is ultimately why it defeated ‘La La Land,’ which is a number one movie above all things.”

See our experts’ predictions here. See the leaderboard that lists all experts’ final scores.



6 thoughts on “Why 2 Oscar experts predicted ‘Moonlight’ upset for Best Picture

  1. I love Sasha’s podcast: All this & the Oscars too. I recommend it to all Gold Derby followers. I should have listened to her but 14 nominations made me think all branches were Ga Ga for La La. But that’s what makes the Oscars fun to forecast now, Best Picture is no longer as predictable as it used to be. Congrats to Matt too. He does great reviews on What the Flick on You Tube. Better luck next year to all!

  2. I’ve liked Sasha Stone since she predicted The Big Short last year. True, she didn’t guess Spotlight, but she was able to see that The Revenant was too divisive to win. Even though I may not always agree with her picks, I know that she always comes to them truthfully and thinks through the possibilities

  3. Sasha did an amazing job of sifting thru all our input, some of which became quite divisive & acrimonious. And she kept polling & repolling us to track any last minute surges after new data (like the terrific set of maps published by the New York Times showing how pockets of support for each nominee differed geographically) appeared online. Bottom Line: This gal does her homework. Brava!!!

  4. Oh please. Sasha Stone was totally predicting La La Land to win. She even said so multiple times on her blog, although she wanted Moonlight to win. And I quote (from her post on February 24th), “So I really want to predict Moonlight but I just can’t bring myself to take the chance.” She ultimately voted for La La Land to win with Moonlight as the possible spoiler. I love her blog but sometimes she’s just too much.

  5. Her Gold Derby prediction was Moonlight. This is fact. Even if she still thought she’d probably get it wrong – and I believe she said as much on the post-Oscars podcast -, if nothing else, she was far more attuned to the very real possibility of that upset happening than 95% of the population…

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