Tom O'Neil's Inside Track

Jack Mathews talks Oscar predictions + 40 wild years of tracking the derby [Podcast]

Jack Mathews is the beloved, reigning king of Oscar pundits. As a journalist for major media, he’s been covering the track longer than anyone else (40 years!) and he’s earned the reputation along the way as our smartest bookie and horse whisperer. Jack’s the guy we Oscar pundits trust the most to give us the inside track and we regard Jack, frankly, all of us, with awe.

Now listen to our podcast chat (at the bottom of this post) while Jack discusses his current Oscar predictions and tattles on what he’s seen behind the scenes over four decades.

What’s changed the most over the years?

“There were only a handful of us” journalists covering the Oscars in the old days, he notes. “I’d be able to go directly to the foreign-language branch or the shorts branch and talk to the people on those committees and I had a pretty good idea of how the whole academy was going to vote. But that’s all changed now. Very different.

“I started to cover the Oscars in 1979 when I moved from Detroit to Los Angeles while covering Hollywood for the Detroit Free Press. Then I went to USA Today, the L.A. Times – all in Los Angeles covering the Oscars intimately. Then I moved to New York to work for Newsday, then the New York Daily News and I continued to cover the Oscars closely on the ground. Back when I was working in Hollywood, I had so many sources inside the academy! It was a lot more informative then. There weren’t all of these other awards. There weren’t other people interviewing those people.”