The live ABC Television Network broadcast of the 84th Annual Academy Awards® from the Hollywood and Highland Center, in Hollywood, CA, Sunday, February 26, 2012.

Handicapping the 2016 Oscars

Handicapping the 2016 Oscars (With Way More Data Than You Could Possibly Ever Want)

Some people love fantasy football, fantasy baseball, fantasy basketweaving… I love fantasy oscars. (Is there such a thing? I should flipping create it!!) I love the politics of it, the chaos of it, the snubs, the surprises, it’s a fantastic time of year.

I have actively spoken, several times now, about how the Revenant is going to clean house at the Oscars this year. I came to this opinion well before nominations came out, and even before there was even any indication that it would be nominated for anything at all. So, at the start of this analysis I’m putting all my cards on the table and letting you know where I am coming from. But heck, the data could prove me wrong… (cough – not happening – cough).

With that said, much hay is being made in the media about Revenant’s twelve nominations and Mad Max’s 10. And rightfully so, because being nominated twelve times is a key signal of how the motion picture will do come the night of the awards ceremony.  So, I hear you asking, “but historically, how have talkies done when they’ve received twelve nominations?” I’m so glad you asked… let’s talk about that.

What Happens When A Film is Nominated 12 Times?

In the history of the Oscars, 15 films have been nominated for 12 awards. And if you are interested, 13 films have been nominated for 13 or 14 awards. Fourteen being the max awards nominated. And that prestigious number of nominations went to All About Eve (a movie I’ve never seen – need to fix that), and Titanic. Eve came away with six awards. And Titanic walked away with eleven awards given, which is the most number of awards ever given. Ben-Hur and Lord of the Rings, both received eleven awards as well, though they were nominated less times than Titanic. And Titanic pulled off eleven wins without a nod to Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet – it should be noted.


Best Picture?

So how do we handicap Revenant’s chances for winning Best Film of the year? Maybe we should look at all the movies that have been nominated for 12 awards in the history of the Oscars and see what we can see.

Mrs. Miniver, 1942 (6 awards, including best picture)

The Song of Bernadette, 1943 (4 awards, not best picture)

Johnny Belinda, 1948 (1 award, not best picture)

A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951 (4 awards, not best picture)

On the Waterfront, 1954 (8 awards, including best picture)

Ben-Hur, 1959 (11 awards, including best picture)

Becket, 1964 (1 award, not best picture)

My Fair Lady, 1964 (8 awards, including best picture)

Reds, 1981 (3 awards, not best picture)

Dances With Wolves, 1990 (7 awards, including best picture)

Schindler’s List, 1993 (7 awards, including best picture)

The English Patient, 1996 (9 awards, including best picture)

Gladiator, 2000 (5 awards, including best picture)

The King’s Speech, 2010 (4 awards, including best picture)

Lincoln, 2012 (2 awards, not best picture)

So out of the 15 times that a movie has been nominated 12 times, nine times the movie has won Best Picture, which is 60% of the time. And one year (1964) two different movies were nominated for 12 awards. And it’s impossible for two movies to win best picture – so you really have to drop one of those from the data. And that gives you a solid 64% chance at winning best picture. But there are other trends in this data above that we would do well to look at. In the first forty years or so of the Academy, of the eight times this occurred, Best Picture was given 50% of the time. In the fifty years since it’s been awarded 71% of the time, making it a near lock for 12 time nominations. Better yet? In the last 25 years or so since 1990? That percentage sky rockets to 83%, with the only twelve time nominee losing in 2012 (for Lincoln… which really no one thought would win… no offense Daniel Day-Lewis)

So, the long and short of that bit of excel work is that the Revenant has something close to an 83% chance of winning the Best Movie of the Year. Just pen it into your Oscar brackets now. The Revenant is going to win.


But What About Best Actor?!

Leonardo DiCaprio, oh Leonardo. In our previous data set of 12 award nominees the films won for Best Actor 47% of the time. So, at first blush Leonardo has basically a coin flip of a chance. Which is pretty good, considering. Another trend I saw in the data is that of the 15 different 12 nomination movies, the movies picked up an award for Best Actor or Best Actress 12 out of the 15 times (80%). The only times this failed was in 1981 (Reds), 1990 (Dances Without Costner), and 1993 (Schindler’s). And with there not even being a nominated woman as Best Actress (was there even a single woman in the Revenant? Oh yeah, his wife… in a dream… who never speaks…) So, even though Leonardo is world famous for getting snubbed by the Academy, I guarantee you Leonardo will walk with a trophy this year. He has been passed over enough to really start to garner some sympathy love and stick with the voters. This acting job is completely different than anything we’ve seen from him before. Put it in your brackets in pen. It’s in the bag.

How Many Oscars will Revenant Win?

The Revenant has been nominated for a ton of very winnable awards; Best Movie, Best Actor, Best Actor Supporting Role, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Makeup Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, & Visual Effects. But what does the data tell us? Of the 15 movies in the history of the Oscars the average wins has been 5.6 awards won. But what about when the movie wins for best movie? The number of awards jumps to over 7, almost 7.5. And as I’ve already told you that the Revenant is a lock for Best Movie (hahaha), so since that is the case, we are probably looking at somewhere around seven wins for the Revenant this year. Sure, it could spike to eleven wins like Ben-Hur did. But the Revenant is no Ben-Hur. But let’s play out a straw-man ballot from top to bottom and see where this 7 wins idea for Revenant could go in the toilet.

Revenant – Best Picture – covered this already, but I will add, if you are reading my post and running to Vegas to bet, be very careful, as they have Spotlight at 6 to 5 odds, and Revenant at 4 to 5. (But they are smoking crack is all I have to say. If I were a betting man, and I am totally not, I would RUN with those odds for Revenant.)

Leonardo DiCaprio – Actor in a Leading Role – covered this as well, but if we were to look at the other actors in this list it’s also a lock. Not that this should assuage your concerns, but Vegas’ odds show Leonardo also beating out the rest of the field with a  1 to 5 verses a Fassbender 5 to 1. Personally don’t see ‘Steve Jobs’ as walking away with much at all. But that’s just me.

Brie Larson – Actress in a Leading Role – Personally adored Brie Larson in Room, havn’t talked much about the globes here. But I do think the Academy will fall in line on this category. Never mind the fact that Vegas has her at 3 to 1 odds on favorite. Kinda seems like a slam dunk here. But kudos to Jennifer Lawrence for her fourth nomination. She’s the youngest person to be nominated four times I do believe. But yeah, no she won’t win for Joy. Quote me on that.


Tom Hardy – Best Actor Supporting Role – Now, this is where my heart gets me into all kinds of trouble. I am a mad Tom Hardy fan. I think Bane, Inception, Mad Max, Locke, Child 44 are all absolutely brilliant. Tom Hardy is about as versatile an actor as they come. (Oh, did I also mention that I’m stoked he’ll be back together with Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk as well?) But look at the guys he’s up against?! Christian Bale in the Big Short (which was phenomenal – you have to see it if you haven’t.) And Christian is at a 12 to 1 odds by the bookies? Hardy is currently sitting in the middle of the pack with 8 to 1 odds. Sly is actually destroying the odds for this category with a 4 to 5 play. Personally think that Vegas went and got all sentimental in this category, I think it’s an honor he was even nominated… but win?!? The only other actor between Hardy and the win is Mark Rylance… sure he was good, but was he memorable? Was The Bridge of Spies even memorable? I saw it the first week it was out and I absolutely couldn’t tell you what happened in that movie. Yeah, I’m going with Tom Hardy in this category.

Kate Winslet – Best Actress Supporting Role – Alright, another sentimental vote from me. I’d personally love to see Kate win the same year that Leonardo DiCaprio wins after they were both snubbed for Oscars for Titanic (but won everything else.) But personally, if I’m being honest with myself… Rooney Mara will win for “Carol” (She’s also the Vegas odds on favorite too I might add.)

Inside Out – Animated Feature Film – Is America ready for an Oscar Winner that isn’t a Disney/Pixar Film? Better yet, is America ready for an animated oscar winner with nudity in it? Personally think Anomalisa deserves to win. It was won of the best scripts of 2015. Reminded me of Before Sunset in it’s gritty feel and grappling with the hard things of life. But it’s way way too gritty for our sanitary Animated Feature Category. It won’t win, not even by a long shot. Oh. So that means Inside Out wins. Duh.


The Revenant – Cinematography – So let me break this down for you. Emmanuel Lubezki. He will win his third Oscar in a row. I promise you. This another lock. He is the greatest cinematographer in all of Hollywood right now. He won with Gravity in 2014 (highly deserved – gorgeous gorgeous movie. Innovative design and shooting.) He won in 2015 with Birdman (and his controversial single cut movie idea and technique – but another highly deserved win.) And he’ll win in 2016 with the Revenant. I’ve never seen a more beautifully shot film. He’ll win. I liked the look of Sicario and Mad Max, heck even the failed Hateful Eight. But those movies held zero candle to Revenant from a look and shooting standpoint.

Revenant – Costume Design – The Academy does love it’s period pieces in this space. But not just period pieces, but preferably your Elizabethan Period pieces, with tea, and crumpets on the side, thank you very much. Cinderella has an Elizabethan flare to it, but usually the Academy doesn’t give the nod to fictional pieces. Which is a similar reason to exclude Mad Max (though the Costume Design in that movie was off the hook.) Carol and The Danish Girl are period pieces, but are fictional (mainly anyway, it is true that The Danish Girl is loosely based in fact, but by and large). Revenant is a period piece set in the 1820’s, though it is DECIDEDLY missing the tea and crumpets… and the women. And the dresses. And any sort of civilization at all whatsoever. But man is it lifelike for what I would imagine from an 1820’s period piece with bears and Indians, and the like.

Alejandro González Iñárritu – Revenant – Directing – There a couple movies that were just stellar in this space. The Big Short and Mad Max (WITNESS ME!!!) being my own personal favorites. Obviously The Big Short won’t win. But what about Mad Max? Vegas has Iñárritu as the odds on favorite and I would whole heartedly agree. This was one of the hardest shoots ever conducted. The six month shoot turned into a nine month shoot in the cold wilds of Canada. Ińárritu was hellbent on shooting in natural light, which meant really small windows of time. No other director went as far to get their movie captured than Iñárritu.

Revenant – Film Editing – For similar reasons above I believe Revenant will win. This movie has amazing cinematography, fantastic direction, great cuts and story telling. But I’ve emotionally run out of steam at the 2,000 word count point. Done. Stick a fork in me. But yeah, they’ll win in Editing as well.

If we count up the wins so far – we are already at seven. The only big question out there is Best Film and supporting actor. Vegas and I disagree on those, so chalk them up as losses, and that puts at five.  But that still leaves us with Makeup, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual effects that it is still nominated for. Definitely think Revenant is a shoe-in for Production design and has a chance at sound and visual effects. Personally think that Hollywood will always go with the OBVIOUS visual effects over the ones that blend well. (Which seems contrary, but whatever) and so usually the Star Wars movie play well down on this end of the spectrum.

Which puts Revenants haul anywhere from five Oscars to nine by my math. But I am going to go out on an emotional limb, and say that the Revenant has the emotional momentum and the marketing drive right now to walk away with nine, and to leave Star Wars standing jilted at the altar. Should be a fun awards night.