Oscar 2016: Math Model to Predict Best Picture Nominees

Potential nominees are nervously wondering right now, “What are the odds?”

Here are the answers, using metrics such as other award shows, guild awards, and aggregate critic scores to determine the probability of nominees in the main categories.

The probabilities are calculated according to how significant each predictor has been in the past, and then weighing this year’s awards season data accordingly.

Best Picture

1. Spotlight: 99.9%
2. Mad Max: 99.9%
3. The Revenant: 99.6%
4. The Big Short: 97.5%
5. Carol: 93.5%
6. The Martian: 91.6%
7. Room: 77.6%
8. Sicario: 66.3%
9. Brooklyn: 59.3%
10. Bridge of Spies: 50.5%
11. Inside Out: 24.4%
12. Straight Outta Compton: 18.7%

13. Star Wars Episode VII: 10.3%
14. Ex Machina: 8.9%
15. The Danish Girl: 7.8%
16. Trumbo: 6.2%
17. Beasts of No Nation: 6.2%
18. Spy: 5.2%
18. Trainwreck: 5.2%
20. Joy: 4.4%

Starting from the top, it will come as a surprise that Spotlight, Max Max, and The Revenant are basically locks to get nominations.

The next tier is The Big Short, Carol, and The Martian. None of them has a perfect resume: For example, the first two won no Golden Globes, and The Martian missed out on a BAFTA nomination. But they also have a lot going for them as well, landing on nomination lists and top-ten lists far more consistently than the movies outside of the top six.

Then come the interesting movies, the borderline cases, that will largely depend upon how many films the Academy nominates this year. During the past four years, the Academy has used voting procedures that result in a variable category size; though the number of nominees is  officially allowed to bounce between five and ten, either eight or nine films have made the cut each year.

All of the movies from Inside Out on down are long shots – not impossible, but they need a little luck.  Look for Room, Sicario, Brooklyn, and Bridge of Spies to be among the best bets to round out the most prestigious category.

Sicario’s inclusion may appear the most surprising, though it got nominations from the Producers Guild, the Critics Choice awards, and the American Cinema Editors.