Oscars 2023: Oscar Nominations Using Just Math–Per Ben Zauzmer

Oscar Nominations Using Just Math

Five top contenders are a mathematical lock for the best picture category, according to a formula that factors in awards season data and historical trends.

 

Math may one day calculate the number of universes in the multiverse of Everything Everywhere All at Once, but it can’t comprehend how the relationship between a mother and daughter in just one of those universes can impact all the others. Math can measure the frames per second in Spielberg’s camera, but it can’t inspire the budding filmmaker at the center of The Fabelmans.
Every year I publish mathematical Oscar predictions, starting with the nominee predictions found in this article, using all of this year’s awards season data and historical trends to calculate the probability that each contender hears their name called.

Sometimes, my model’s favorites do well, like last year’s Academy Awards when 19 out of 20 frontrunners went on to win their races. Sometimes, there are plenty of upsets.

ELVIS and EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE

But math can only tell us who is most likely to win, not why those films deserve the recognition they receive. That’s a beautiful thing – it allows us to debate and debate and debate who the rightful winners are. But first, let’s use statistics to get a sneak peek at who those winners might be.

Best Picture

Five films are virtual locks to hear their names called for the top category: Everything Everywhere All at OnceThe Banshees of InisherinTárThe Fabelmans, and Top Gun: Maverick. These nominee predictions essentially double as early Oscar predictions, so Everything Everywhere has the current lead, but there’s plenty of time for that to change.

Elvis and Avatar: The Way of Water are looking pretty good to round out the top seven, though certainly not guaranteed. From there, the picture gets murkier. The math sees seven chief contenders for those last three spots – Women TalkingBabylonGlass OnionThe WhaleAll Quiet on the Western FrontBlack Panther: Wakanda Forever, and RRR. But some of those percentages are so low that it’s entirely possible a film even lower than this list sneaks its way onto the top ten.

Best Director

The Daniels, the joint name for Everything Everywhere All at Once directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, could become the third joint winners of this prestigious category. Only Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise (West Side Story) and the Coen brothers (No Country for Old Men) have previously teamed up to claim this honor.

Best Actor

Best actor is a terrific three-way race. We’ve got Golden Globe winners Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Austin Butler (Elvis), and Critics Choice champion Brendan Fraser (The Whale). All three checked the nomination boxes from the Screen Actors Guild, the BAFTAs, and plenty of critic groups along the way.

Bill Nighy (Living) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun) are the model’s somewhat-confident choices for the last two seats at the table, but don’t rule out Jeremy Pope (The Inspection), Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick), or Adam Sandler (Hustle).

Best Actress

Katharine Hepburn. Ingrid Bergman. Walter Brennan. Daniel Day-Lewis. Frances McDormand. Jack Nicholson. Meryl Streep.

That’s it – the entire list of people with three acting Oscars. But these seven giants of their craft might be about to welcome an eighth member to their club, as Cate Blanchett is out in front for Best Actress for her role in Tár. At the very least, she has a 99.6 percent chance to get nominated. But close on her heels is Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once), followed by Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and Viola Davis (The Woman King).

Best Supporting Actor

Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once) is off to a fantastic start this awards season. I’d hit my word count and have to cut the last three categories from this article if I listed every award he’s won thus far.

But when it comes time for his Oscar campaign, he might have to duke it out with a pair of actors from The Banshees of Inisherin: Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan. Fans of that film might risk splitting their vote, further helping Ke Huy Quan’s odds.

Best Supporting Actress

In a strange bit of Oscars history, no actor from a Marvel film has been nominated for an Academy Award. Well, there’s a 98.4 percent chance that Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) will be changing that on Tuesday morning. What’s more, her film’s predecessor remains the only Marvel movie to win an Oscar, and Bassett will represent one of the sequel’s top chances to match that feat.

All About Oscar

But don’t rule out Kerry Condon, who is in a strong position to be one of four actors from The Banshees of Inisherin to be nominated. Also cracking the top five according to the data are Hong Chau from The Whale and both Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu from Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Best Original Screenplay

Of the eight categories covered in this article, Everything Everywhere All at Once leads in half of them, including best original screenplay. That said, you could make a strong case for any of the top four films being in the lead here. The Banshees of Inisherin won the Golden Globe Award, while Tár and The Fabelmans have racked up just about all of the relevant nominations.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Women Talking and She Said are all-but-assured, and Living is in a pretty good spot. The Whale has a three-in-five chance of getting nominated. But just like Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay gets tricky fast without the aid of the Writers Guild.

Four wordy titles – Guillermo del Toro’s PinocchioGlass Onion: A Knives Out MysteryTop Gun: Maverick, and All Quiet on the Western Front – are all within 8 percentage points of one another, and with this much uncertainty, it’s entirely possible that a script not on this list surges to the top five on Oscar nominations morning.

Ben Zauzmer is the author of Oscarmetrics: The Math Behind the Biggest Night in Hollywood.