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Oscar Pro Tips

Academy Awards ballot prediction nerd madness.


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Pro tip: When picking the Academy Awards winners: Don't let your emotions come into play. Prediction is an act of science. The only thing better than dispassion is if/when you get your mind to the nirvanic plane where you're making good, intuitive picks based on a gut feeling, which is emotional sensitivity mixed with scientific observation.

Pro tip: Enter as many contests as you can with my ballot if you want to be lavished with prizes and acclaim. I have developed a hard-core spreadsheet with #data on it dating back years and years. I have algorithms and mathematics and statistical F-15s in my arsenal as I shoot down my opponents.

Pro tip: One contest I'm participating in is in conjunction with MemphiSport Live (MSL), the radio show on Sports 56 and 87.7 FM. (I appear on the show the last Saturday of every month to talk movies and TV and whatnot.) For the MSL contest, if you can outguess me and show host Kevin Cerrito, you can win all manner of good stuff. For more info, go to the Flyer's entertainment blog, Sing All Kinds, at

Best Picture

Will Win: 12 Years a Slave

This year, there was an unprecedented tie for the Producers Guild Award between Gravity and Slave, but the latter also picked up the Golden Globe and BAFTA.

Should Win: 12 Years a Slave

Got Robbed: Fruitvale Station

Best Director

Will Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Cuarón has swept this awards season, though that doesn't necessarily mean he's a lock. (See: Ang Lee for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)

Should Win: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity

Got Robbed: Asghar Farhadi, The Past

Best Actor

Will Win: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

The trend in this category over the last decade is consensus between the Oscars and the big pre-Oscar awards, the Golden Globes, BAFTA, and SAG. McConaughey won the Globe and SAG. Even though Chiwetel Ejiofor won the BAFTA, that seems more like an outlier than an indicative trend. Plus, beyond his work in Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey is memorable in The Wolf of Wall Street, he starred in the well-received Mud, and he is dominating Twitter feeds with his HBO show, True Detective.

Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Got Robbed: Michael B. Jordan, Fruitvale Station

Best Actress

Will Win: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Almost always (15 of the last 18 years) the Golden Globe winner takes the Oscar. Blanchett and Amy Adams took Globes home, which is why this is a presumptive two-way race. But Blanchett secured the BAFTA and SAG as well.

Should Win: Amy Adams, American Hustle

Got Robbed: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said

Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

Nyong'o received the SAG but Jennifer Lawrence won the Globe and BAFTA. I don't feel great about my pick of Nyong'o, but I'm expecting that voters will spread the love around since Lawrence won an Oscar last year for another David O. Russell film, Silver Linings Playbook. If Lawrence wins the Oscar, this year will rhyme with 2002, when Jennifer Connelly won the Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar but not the SAG.

Should Win: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave

Got Robbed: Melonie Diaz, Fruitvale Station

Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Traditionally, this is the category where the Academy likes to break from what the other awards are doing. However, since 2008 (roughly speaking, the Twitter age), this category has gone chalk, with the Globe winner going 6 for 6, and the SAG and BAFTA winners 5 for 6 each. I don't expect Barkhad Abdi's BAFTA to hold up.

Should Win: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Got Robbed: Sam Rockwell, The Way Way Back

Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: Spike Jonze, Her

Presumably, this is tight between Her and American Hustle. However, Her has one strange stat on its side: Since 1996, only five original scripts have won the Golden Globe for screenplay. (The Globes like to combine original and adapted screenplays into one supergroup.) And every one of those original screenplays went on to win the Oscar. Her won the Globe this year, so ...

Should Win: Spike Jonze, Her

Got Robbed: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, The Way Way Back

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave hasn't won anything this season, with Captain Phillips getting the Writers Guild Award and Philomena with the BAFTA. That said, the Best Picture winner has won the Adapted Screenplay 70 percent of the time when it's nominated in this category. This is presuming 12 Years a Slave even wins Best Picture. If it doesn't, well, I'll have to formulate some kind of metric for what that means.

Should Win: John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave

Got Robbed: Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

More Picks:

Best Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity

Best Editing

Christopher Rouse,

Captain Phillips

Best Foreign Language Film

The Great Beauty

Best Animated Feature


Best Documentary Feature

The Act of Killing

Best Original Score

Steve Price, Gravity

Best Original Song

"Ordinary Love," Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Best Production Design

The Great Gatsby

Best Costume Design

American Hustle

Best Makeup and


Dallas Buyers Club

Best Sound Mixing


Best Sound Editing


Best Visual Effects


Best Documentary Short

The Lady in Number 6

Best Animated Short

Get a Horse!

Best Live Action Short

The Voorman Problem

The Oscars

Sunday, March 2nd, 7 p.m.


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