Our Top 24 Users in our Oscar forecasts got the highest scores predicting last year’s nominations out of more than 12,000 Gold Derby users who placed their bets. Meanwhile, our All-Star Top 24 had the best prediction scores when you combine nomination results from the last couple of years. You’d think those two elite groups would have a lot in common, but as of this writing they have markedly different consensus choices for who will win the Best Picture Oscar.
Most of the Top 24 are betting on “Nomadland,” Chloe Zhao‘s drama about a woman (Frances McDormand) living out of her van and looking for work in the American West. The film is backed by 14 of those leading prognosticators, including Connor from Canada, who had the very best predictions score last year. Eight others are betting on “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Aaron Sorkin‘s docudrama about protestors railroaded by the justice system; that includes Vektor, who had the second best score predicting last year’s nominations.
But the race is flipped when you look at our All-Stars: 16 of them are predicting “Trial” compared to eight currently putting their money on “Nomadland.” On paper, “Trial” looks like the more likely winner: it tells a heroic true story about men (Oscar voters usually pick stories about men) like recent champs “The King’s Speech” (2010), “Argo” (2012), “12 Years a Slave” (2013) and “Spotlight” (2015).
But while an intimate, contemplative, character-driven indie like “Nomadland” doesn’t fit the usual mold of a Best Picture winner, that mold has been changing in recent years as the motion picture academy has expanded and diversified its membership. Voters picked another intimate, contemplative, character-driven indie just a few years ago, “Moonlight” (2016). Then they went for a fairy-tale love story between a woman and an amphibian with “The Shape of Water” (2017) and an edgy foreign-language thriller about class inequality with “Parasite” (2019).
So the truth is we don’t know exactly what a “typical” Oscar movie is anymore, especially in a pandemic year that has drastically changed how audiences and voters have engaged with films. Both “Nomadland” and “Trial” have done well during the awards season so far with recognition from the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and SAG Awards. We’ll learn even more as industry groups chime in like the BAFTAs, Directors Guild and Producers Guild. Will this remain a two-way race as our savviest users predict, or will another film rise up to challenge them?
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