Written by Hannah Dunleavy


A sort of scientific guide to predicting who’ll win at the Oscars

Everyone from critics to film stars to bookmakers have had their say on who they think will pick up an Oscar on February 22. But Hannah Dunleavy thinks she’s already picked the winners.

Birdman, nominated in the best film category. It won’t win.

Best Film

It’s probably best to make it clear from the outset: Oscars – like lottery wins – very rarely go to the people who most deserve them. The biggest travesties usually occur in the Best Film category. Take 2005, for example, when the Academy experienced some sort of collective madness and decided that Crash was a better film than Brokeback Mountain. Or Goodnight and Good Luck. Or Capote. Or Munich. There are CCTV cameras in scarcely-used underpasses in Bracknell that have made better films than Crash.

And let’s not forget, past winners have also included Chicago (what?), Driving Miss Daisy (seriously?) and Shakespeare in Love (*smashes self in face with copy of The Tempest*).

In 2009, the number of nominees in each category was upped from five to a maximum of 10 – presumably to allow more injustices to occur. This year there are eight films in the running. That’s right, the Academy chose to leave a blank space rather than nominate Nightcrawler (*sighs*).

If you’re heading to the bookmakers, you can discount civil rights epic Selma, almost immediately as it has received no other nominations in the “big” categories: acting, writing or directing. (Presumably it just materialised, fully formed, as if left on the Academy’s doorstep by fairies.) It’s rare for this to happen and SPOLIER ALERT, when it does, the film never wins.

Which means the winner is: The film you think least deserves it. For me, that’s The Theory Of Everything.

Steve Carrell. Will win it by a nose *self-congratulatory laugh*

Best Actor
There’s no denying Oscar loves an inspirational story of a triumph over illness or disability. (Not so much actual disabled actors, but there you have it.) In fact, in the last 25 years, the Best Actor prize has been won by 11 dudes playing characters who were either; suffering from mental illness, blind, a wheelchair user, dying of Aids, an alcoholic or someone with learning difficulties. The Academy also likes a “true” story – 11 of the last 25 men to pick up the award did so for playing a real person.

All of which looks very good for Eddie Redmayne, although it’s worth noting that the only one of this year’s nominees not playing a real person is, ironically, the bookie’s favourite, Michael Keaton, who’s playing someone who, to all extents and purposes, is himself. Headfuck.

All of that said, what we haven’t considered is the prosthetic nose effect. While wearing a fake hooter isn’t a guarantee of a nomination, being nominated while wearing one always leads to a win. (See De Niro in Raging Bull, Kidman in The Hours, Streep in The Iron Lady and Marvin in Cat Balou.) I rest my case.

Which means the winner is: Steve Carrell.

Will Reese Witherspoon win? The statistics say no

Best Actress
British women are the bridesmaids of the Best Actress category. There’s only been six occasions since 1992 when there hasn’t been a single Brit among the nominees, and several times there’s been more than one. And yet, in that time, only Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet have picked up awards. In 1997, four of the five nominees were British, meaning the Academy was reduced to giving an Oscar to Helen Hunt rather than see it shipped overseas. That means, in all likelihood, Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones and French nominee Marion Cotillard are just making up the numbers. So, in a two-horse race between Reese Witherspoon and Julianne Moore, you only have to check the statistics to find your winner. Witherspoon’s already got an Oscar, which puts her chances of winning a second at just 19%.

Julianne Moore won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors’ Guild Award and the Critics’ Choice Award, and in the previous years this has happened, the actress has gone on to win the Oscar almost 90% of the time.

Which means the winner is: Julianne Moore

JK Simmons. Shouty head and shoulders above the competition.

Best Supporting Actor
Given the number of supporting actor performance eligible every year, this is undoubtedly the toughest category to get nominated in and the one people are least agitated about, as almost everyone probably deserves a win. Robert Duvall who’s one of the finest actors Hollywood’s ever produced has been nominated for this award without winning it four times. Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton and Ethan Hawke are both on their second nomination. But those statistics, Martin Scorsese will tell you, mean nothing.

While I can never quite understand what possesses bookmakers to get involved in something that’s essentially decided on a whim, it’s worth pointing out that, although they are often battered by surprise results, it’s rarely in this category. In the last decade the Best Supporting Actor Oscar has always been picked up by one of the two guys with the shortest odds, making this year a straight race between JK Simmons and Edward Norton.

This category has the highest average winning age – 50 – and is generally won by either the oldest, the youngest or the person closest to the average age of that year’s nominees. None of which are Edward Norton.

Which means the winner is: JK Simmons

Keira Knightley. Not likely.

Best Supporting Actress

The category where the Academy traditionally corrals people it doesn’t usually feel comfortable giving Oscars to; the very young, foreigners, comedians and African Americans. It’s also the place where the most leftfield wins have come from: Judi Dench picked up one for a performance that lasted eight minutes and Marisa Tomei won one for My Cousin Vinny.

In the absence of a completely crackers candidate (except perhaps Keira Knightley), or anyone from a Woody Allen film, the field should be wide open. Except…

Patricia Arquette has already won three of the five main awards for the awards season and even if she fails to pick up the BAFTA on Sunday night, she’s unlikely to be seen as anything other than the Usain Bolt of the Supporting Actress category.

But if you’re looking for a reason to put some cash on someone else, the average age of a winner in this category is 40 making the most likely winner Patricia… Shit. OK, have you heard that theory about the mirrored umbrella, which means that England is going to win the World Cup “any minute now”? Well, if you look at the pattern of Meryl Streep’s wins and nominations… Yeah, I’m done.

Which means the winner is: Patricia Arquette


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Written by Hannah Dunleavy

Hannah Dunleavy is the deputy editor of Standard Issue. She likes whisky and not having to run anywhere.