Oscar flashback: Which precursor prizes are key to winning Best Picture?

This year, we have seen key precursor prizes award Best Picture (or its equivalent) to three different films. The Critics’ Choice and SAG went for for “Spotlight,” the Golden Globes and DGA opted for “The Revenant” and the PGA picked “The Big Short.” This is all terribly exciting but if you’re an Oscar pundit, it’s a dangerous time.

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Although I find it endlessly fascinating, the idea of predicting based on notions such as “Oh, Inarritu won three Oscars last year, so that counts against him and his film, ‘The Revenant,’ this year,” I am unconvinced that this is a fool-proof method. Therefore, to save myself from this (or at least to give me something to blame if I do go wrong), I have used math, science and history to come up with an algorithm of sorts to predict which of the eight nominees will win Best Picture.

In essence, I’ve gone all Christian Bale-in-“The-Big-Short” on the Oscars. I compiled a list of all the precursor awards at which a Best Picture candidate would be expected to contend. However, I didn’t just say ‘Golden Globe for Best Director’; instead I have ‘Golden Globe for Best Director – NOMINATION’ and ‘Golden Globe For Best Director – WIN.’ I did this double-up technique for everything. There is a nomination box to tick and a win box to tick. Furthermore, I don’t specify ‘Lead Actor’ or ‘Supporting Actress,’ I just have ‘Acting Nomination’ or ‘Acting Win’ as that is much more appropriate. The complete list can be found below:

SAG = Screen Actors Guild
WGA = Writers Guild of America
PGA = Producers Guild of America
DGA = Directors Guild of America
ACE = Editors Guild

1) Golden Globe, Best Picture – NOMINATION (comedy/musical or drama)
2) Golden Globe, Best Picture – WIN (comedy/musical or drama)
3) Golden Globe, Directing – NOMINATION
4) Golden Globe, Directing – WIN
5) Golden Globe, Acting – NOMINATION
6) Golden Globe, Acting – WIN
7) Golden Globe, Writing – NOMINATION
8) Golden Globe, Writing – WIN
9) SAG, singular performance – NOMINATION
10) SAG, singular performance – WIN
11) SAG, Ensemble Cast – NOMINATION
12) SAG, Ensemble Cast – WIN
14) WGA – WIN
16) DGA – WIN
18) PGA – WIN
19) Critics Choice, Best Picture – NOMINATION
20) Critics Choice, Best Picture – WIN
22) ACE – WIN
23) BAFTA, Best Picture – NOMINATION
24) BAFTA, Best Picture – WIN
25) BAFTA, Directing – NOMINATION
26) BAFTA, Directing – WIN
28) BAFTA, Acting – WIN
30) BAFTA, Writing – WIN
31) Oscar Nomination for Directing
32) Oscar Nomination for Acting
33) Oscar Nomination for Writing
34) Oscar Nomination for Editing
35) Love across the board? (over five Oscar nominations in total)

One could shrink this list down to only 10 or 20, but having this large compilation of different boxes to check gives us a much more extensive look at what wins and nominations a contender needs in order to take Best Picture at the Oscars.

I included the four key Oscar nominations that a film usually needs to have to win Best Picture. And the final box (love across the board) is also important as most of the time a film must have more than five nominations overall to win Best Picture. There are exceptions, like “The Departed,” but it remains a key asset to have in the race.

I then created the charts below whereby I took the last 10 Oscar Best Picture winners and saw how many of the 35 boxes each of them filled.

NOM = nomination B/P = Best Picture

As you can see, the lowest scoring were “Birdman” and “Crash” with 23 of 35 boxes ticked and the highest were “The Artist,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country For Old Men” at 30 each. The average number of boxes ticked for these ten films works out at 26.8, which I’ve rounded up to 27.

Up next, determining which of the eight nominated films for Best Picture this year comes closest to 27 boxes ticked. 

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 Photo credits: BFCA, SAG, HFPA, AMPAS

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