FilmJerk Handicaps The Oscars: 2006 Edition

Can the outcome of the Oscars be predicted by looking at a statistical breakdown of certain factors relating to the major categories? Is playing a real person truly the short cut to Oscar glory? How important is it to have the most nominations? Are films released before September really ignored?

Can one win an Oscar, even though they appear in the lowest-grossing film nominated in that category? We took a look at the ten major categories over the past 27 ceremonies (for the films of 1978 through 2004), as well as select statistical data from all 77 previous ceremonies, and found some surprising mathematical data which may give some pause about who might win on March 5.

Please note: This article was updated at 9:15AM on Wednesday February 22 to fix some data errors, balancing out the positive and negatives between nominees in all statistical categories. Some of you will notice different outcomes to several races from the earlier incarnation to this article. We’re also showing exactly how the math was figured for each race.

Please also note: These are not predictions on how the awards will turn out. Like in baseball, there are always more stats that could delve deeper into any category (like how well Albert Pujols hits with men in scoring position, with less than two outs, in his home stadium, during day games, against left handers, when the count is 3-1), but these numbers are a good place to start, to have fun with and to start some interesting discussions about the nominees.

For clarification purposes, when there is mention of a pre-award favorite, this describes how this person won at least two of the top five pre-Oscar awards, between the Golden Globe for Drama, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Board of Review, the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle. Also, when there is mention of someone playing a real person, the character that actor played must not be a fictionalized version of a real person, such as with Sally Field in “Norma Rae” or Joe Pesci in “Good Fellas.” Had Pesci won for “Raging Bull,” that would count. Joey LaMotta was a real person. But Tommy DeVito in “Good Fellas” is a fictionalized version of Lucchese family gangster Thomas DeSimone, and thus does not qualify for this category.

And now, on with the show…

Best Picture

Is “Brokeback Mountain” the front runner? The numbers say “Without a doubt!”

The Breakdowns

1) As long as you’re not the lowest grossing nominee, you’ve won 27 of 27 times (100%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich

2) Best Picture winners have had a nominated director 26 of 27 times (96.30%). Advantage: All nominees

3) Best Picture winners have had a nominated screenplay 26 of 27 times (96.30%). Advantage: All nominees

4) Best Picture winners have had at least one acting nomination 24 of 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck

5) The director of the Best Picture winner has also won the DGA Award 21 of 27 times (77.78%). Advantage: Brokeback

6) Stories not predominantly set in the present have won 20 of 27 times (74.07%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich

7) The picture with the most nominations has gone on to win Best Picture 53 of 77 (68.83%) times. Advantage: Brokeback Mountain

8) The Best Picture winner has also won the PGA Golden Laurel 11 of the 16 times the latter award has been presented (68.75%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain

9) The Best Picture winner has come from a movie released after September 30 18 of 27 times (66.67%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich

10) Pictures that have received the Golden Globe for drama have won 18 of 27 times (66.67%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain

11) Pictures based on an adapted screenplay have won 16 of 27 times (59.26%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Munich

By The Numbers

With all eleven charted advantages, “Brokeback Mountain” has the highest statistical chance to win Best Picture.

“Brokeback Mountain”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8, +9, +10, +11 (260 for 336, 77.38%)

“Good Night, and Good Luck”: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11 (196 for 336, 58.33%)

“Munich”: +1, +2, +3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10, +11 (175 for 336, 52.08%)

“Crash”: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11 (174 for 336, 51.79%)

“Capote”: -1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, -7, -8, -9, -10, +11 (158 for 336, 47.02%)

Best Actor

It seems pretty clear that Philip Seymour Hoffman is the front runner for this race… or is he?

The Breakdowns

1) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film in this category, you’ve won 27 of the past 27 times (100%). Advantage: Howard, Ledger, Phoenix, Straithairn

2) If you’re not your film’s only chance to win, you’ve won 26 of 27 (96.30%). Advantage: All nominees

3) 24 of 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: All nominees

4) As long as you’re not the oldest nominee, you’ve won 24 of 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Hoffman, Howard, Ledger, Phoenix

5) The Best Actor winner has starred in a Best Picture nominee 59 of 77 times (76.62%). Advantage: Hoffman, Ledger, Straithairn

6) The SAG Award winner in this category has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category 7 of the 11 times the latter award has been presented (63.63%). Advantage: Hoffman

7) The nominee with at least two major pre-awards has gone on to win the Oscar 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Hoffman

8) Playing a fictional character has helped the winner 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Howard, Ledger

9) Nominees who have received the Golden Globe for drama have won the Oscar 16 of 27 times (59.26%). Advantage: Hoffman

10) First-time nominees in this category have won 14 of 27 (51.85%). Advantage: All nominees

By The Numbers

Yeah, Hoffman’s still the front runner here.

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”: -1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8, +9, +10 (276 for 304, 90.79%)

Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, +8, -9, +10 (215 for 304, 70.72%)

Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, +8, -9, +10 (215 for 304, 70.72%)

David Strathairn, “Good Night and Good Luck”: +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, -6, -7, -8, -9, +10 (182 for 304, 59.87%)

Joaquin Phoenix, “Walk the Line”: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, -6, -7, -8, -9, +10 (163 for 304, 53.62%)

Best Actress

The first time I ran my numbers, it came up with Keira Knightley having an 81.48% statistical probability factor. “That couldn’t possibly be right,” said early critics of this year’s column. As if the sexy tomboy beanpole was really going to stand in the way of Hurricane Witherspoon, because, as I’ve said before, these are not predictions. I don’t think Knightley is going to win, and I’d never predict her to win. I don’t think Knightley thinks she’s going to win. My personal prediction is Felicity Huffman, who I think had the harder stretch to make acting-wise than Witherspoon, and I think the Academy will recognize that.

The Breakdowns

1) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film in this category, you’ve won 25 of the last 27 times (92.59%). Advantage: Dench, Knightley, Theron, Witherspoon

2) If you’re you’re not your film’s only chance to win, you’ve won 66 of 77 times (85.71%). Advantage: All nominees

3) Playing a fictional character has helped the winner 23 of 27 times (85.19%). Advantage: Huffman, Knightley, Theron

4) First-time nominees in this category have won 22 of 27 (81.48%). Advantage: Huffman, Knightley, Witherspoon

5) The SAG Award winner in this category has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category 8 of 11 times (72.72%). Advantage: Witherspoon

6) The Best Actress winner has starred in a Best Picture nominee 17 of 27 times (62.96%). Advantage: None

7) A nominee with prior acting nominations has gone on to win in this category 16 of 27 times (59.26%). Advantage: Dench, Theron

8) Nominees who have received the Golden Globe for drama have won the Oscar 16 of 27 times (59.26%). Advantage: Huffman

By The Numbers

It’s the strangest thing… even after balancing the categories, Knightley is still the statistical favorite. Even stranger, Theron jumps from the last slot to the second spot. Not that anyone expects either of these women to actually win. (Again, THESE ARE NOT PREDICTIONS)

Keira Knightley, “Pride & Prejudice”: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, -6, -7, -8 (171 for 250, 68.40%)

Charlize Theron, “North Country”: +1, +2, +3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8 (159 for 250, 63.60%)

Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line”: +1, +2, -3, +4, +5, -6, -7, -8 (157 for 250, 62.80%)

Felicity Huffman, “Transamerica”: -1, +2, +3, +4, -5, -6, -7, +8 (153 for 250, 61.20%)

Judi Dench, “Mrs. Henderson Presents”: +1, +2, -3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8 (140 for 250, 56.00%)

Best Supporting Actor

Let’s face it… this is George Clooney’s world, and we’re just living in it. Everyone’s favorite Hollywood Liberal poster boy and merry prankster pulled off an Oscar first, being nominated for directing and co-writing one movie while getting an acting nomination for a different film (and had he not been such a nice guy and taken his name off as producer of “Good Night, and Good Luck,” he would have a fourth nod). But since the popular consensus out there says he has little chance of walking away with the statue for directing or writing, many are looking at this category for the one-time Batman to not go home empty handed.

The Breakdowns

1) Winners in this category have been first time Oscar winners 24 of the last 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Clooney, Dillon, Giamatti, Gyllenhaal

2) As long as you’re not the youngest nominee, you’ve won 24 of 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Clooney, Dillon, Giamatti, Hurt

3) Playing a fictional character has helped the winner 22 of 27 times (81.48%). Advantage: Clooney, Dillon, Gyllenhaal, Hurt

4) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film in this category, you’ve won 21 of 27 times (77.78%). Advantage: Clooney, Dillon, Giamatti, Gyllenhaal

5) As long as you’re not the oldest nominee, you’ve won 20 of 27 times (74.07%). Advantage: Gyllenhaal, Giamatti, Dillon, Clooney

6) Winners in this category have represent films without a Best Actor nominee 16 of 27 times (59.26%). Advantage: Dillon, Giamatti, Hurt

7) The SAG Award winner in this category has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category 6 of 11 times (54.54%). Advantage: Giamatti

8) The Best Supporting Actor has appeared in a film released before October 1st 14 of 27 times (51.85%). Advantage: Dillon, Giamatti, Hurt

By The Numbers

Matt Dillon, whose rollercoaster career has seen more ups and down than the Cyclone at Coney Island (let us never forget he also costarred in “Herbie: Fully Loaded” last year), has a slight statistical lead over George Clooney to take home the Oscar here.

Matt Dillon, “Crash”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, +8 (146 for 173, 84.39%)

George Clooney, “Syriana”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, -8 (140 for 173, 80.93%)

Jake Gyllenhaal, “Brokeback Mountain”: +1, -2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, -8 (119 for 173, 68.79%)

Paul Giamatti, “Cinderella Man”: +1, -2, -3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8 (109 for 173, 63.01%)

William Hurt, “A History of Violence: -1, +2, +3, -4, -5, +6, -7, +8 (97 for 173, 56.07%)

Best Supporting Actress

It seems now that if you want your lead actress to win an Oscar, you submit her as a Supporting Actress and hope no one notices. Can anyone besides the studios who put them in this category really say Jennifer Connelly was not the lead actress in “A Beautiful Mind?” Or that Rachel Weisz or Michelle Williams do not have the most screen time of any female character in their respective films? For one of them, this gambit just might work again.

The Breakdowns

1) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film, you’ve won 26 of the last 27 times (96.30%). Advantage: Keener, McDormand, Weisz, Williams

2) As long as you’re not the youngest nominee, you’ve won 23 of 27 (85.19%). Advantage: Adams, Keener, McDormand, Weisz

3) First-time nominees in this category have won 23 of 27 times (85.19%). Advantage: Adams, Weisz, Williams

4) Playing a fictional character has helped the winner 20 of 27 times (74.07%). Advantage: Adams, McDormand, Weisz, Williams

5) Winners in this category have represent films without a Best Actress nominee 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Adams, Keener, Weisz, Williams

6)As long as you’re not the nominee in the highest grossing film in this category, you’ve won 18 of 27 times (66.67%). Advantage: Adams, Keener, McDormand, Weisz

7) The Best Supporting Actress winner appeared in a Best Picture nominee 17 of 27 times (62.96%). Advantage: Keener, Williams

8) The SAG Award winner in this category has gone on to win the Oscar in the same category 6 of 11 times (54.54%). Advantage: Weisz

By The Numbers

Rachel Weisz is the statistical leader for Best Supporting Actress

Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, +8 (145 for 200, 72.50%)

Michelle Williams , “Brokeback Mountain”: +1, -2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, -8 (123 for 200, 61.50%)

Catherine Keener , “Capote” : +1, +2, -3, -4, +5, +6, +7, -8 (119 for 200, 59.50%)

Amy Adams, “Junebug”: -1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8 (119 for 200, 59.50%)

Frances McDormand , “North Country”: +1, +2, -3, +4, -5, +6, -7, -8 (114 for 200, 57%)

Best Director

Surely, if “Brokeback” wins Best Picture, Ang Lee is a lock for Best Director, right?

The Breakdowns

1) Best Directors have won for a film with at least one acting nomination 24 of the last 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Clooney, Haggis, Lee, Miller

2) As long as you’re not the oldest nominee, you’ve won 24 of 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Clooney, Haggis, Lee, Miller

3) The DGA Award winner has also won the Best Directing Oscar 23 of 27 times (85.19%). Advantage: Lee

4) Directors of stories not predominantly set in the present have won 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Clooney, Lee, Miller, Spielberg

5) Best Directors have come from a film released after September 30th 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Clooney, Lee, Spielberg

6) The film with the most nominations has won for Best Director 18 of 27 times (66.67%). Advantage: Lee

7) First-time nominees in this category have won 17 of 27 times (62.96%). Advantage: Clooney, Haggis, Miller

8) Directors of stories with some basis in fact have won 15 of 27 times (55.56%). Advantage: Clooney, Miller, Spielberg

By The Numbers

It should be a good night for Ang Lee.

Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, -7, -8 (149 for 216, 68.98%)

George Clooney, “Good Night and Good Luck”: +1, +2, -3, +4, +5, -6, +7, +8 (131 for 216, 60.65%)

Bennett Miller, “Capote”: +1, +2, -3, +4, -5, -6, +7, +8 (120 for 216, 55.56%)

Paul Haggis, “Crash”: +1, +2 ,-3, -4, -5, -6, +7, -8 (106 for 216, 49.07%)

Steven Spielberg, “Munich”: -1, -2, -3, +4, +5, -6, -7, +8 (82 for 216, 37.96%)

Best Cinematographer

Will the Academy prefer their film in color, or in glorious and glamorous black and white?

The Breakdowns

1) Cinematographers nominated for the ASC Award have won the Oscar 18 of the 19 times the former’s awards have been given out (94.74%). Advantage: Batman Begins, Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, Memoirs of a Geisha

2) Shooters of stories not predominantly set in the present have won 25 of the past 27 times (92.59%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, Memoirs of a Geisha, The New World

3) As long as you’re not the nominee in the lowest grossing film, you’ve won 25 of 27 times (92.59%). Advantage: Batman Begins, Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, Memoirs of a Geisha

4) Cinematography winners have come from films whose directors have also been nominated 22 of 27 times (81.48%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck

5) Cinematography winners have come from a Best Picture nominee 21 of 27 times (77.78%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck

6) Cinematographers who have been able to shoot large crowd scenes have won 21 of 27 times (77.78%). Advantage: Batman Begins, Memoirs of a Geisha, The New World

7) Cinematography awards have been given to films also nominated for Best Art Direction 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Good Night and Good Luck, Memoirs of a Geisha

8) Cinematography winners who are not first-time nominees have won 16 of 27 times (59.26%). Advantage: Memoirs of a Geisha, The New World

By The Numbers

When it comes to the look on the screen, Oscar voters might see monochromatically this year

Robert Elswit, “Good Night, and Good Luck”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, +7, -8 (147 for 208, 70.67%)

Rodrigo Prieto, “Brokeback Mountain”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, -6, -7, -8 (136 for 208, 65.38%)

Dion Beebe, “Memoirs of a Geisha”: +1, +2, +3, -4, -5, +6, +7, -8 (130 for 208, 62.50%)

Wally Pfister, “Batman Begins”: +1, -2, +3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8 (96 for 208, 46.15%)

Emmanuel Lubezki, “The New World”: -1, +2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8 (79 for 208, 37.98%)

Best Original Screenplay

There was some controversy last month when the Academy decided “Syriana” was sufficiently different enough from its source material, the memoirs of former CIA agent Robert Baer, to be considered an original work. Did this help or hurt the script’s chances of taking home the gold?

The Breakdowns

1) Best Original Screenplays have won for a film with at least one acting nomination 26 of the past 27 times (96.30%). Advantage: Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana

2) As long as you’re not the one who wrote the lowest grossing nominee, you’ve won 24 of 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Match Point, Syriana

3) A film also nominated for Best Director has won for Best Original Screenplay 22 of 27 times (81.48%). Advantage: Crash, Good Night and Good Luck

4) A film also nominated for Best Picture has won for Best Original Screenplay 21 of 27 times (77.78%). Advantage: Crash, Good Night and Good Luck

5) Unlike Best Director winners, Best Original Screenplay winners have had stories set in the present day 20 of 27 times (74.07%). Advantage: Crash, Match Point, Syriana

6) Original Screenplay set in the United States have won19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, The Squid and the Whale, Syriana

7) Non-comedies have won for Best Original Screenplay 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Match Point, Syriana

8) Screenplays with only one credited writer have won 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Match Point, The Squid and the Whale, Syriana

By The Numbers

It’s a statistical tie between “Crash” and “Good Night and Good Luck,” who each share the same advantages and disadvantages

Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco, “Crash”: +1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, -8 (146 for 216, 67.59%)

George Clooney and Grant Heslov, “Good Night, and Good Luck”: +1, +2, +3, +4, -5, +6, +7, -8 (146 for 216, 67.59%)

Stephen Gaghan, “Syriana”: +1, +2, -3, -4, +5, +6, +7, +8 (131 for 216, 60.65%)

Woody Allen, “Match Point”: -1, +2, -3, -4, +5, -6, +7, +8 (102 for 216, 47.22%)

Noah Baumbach, “The Squid and the Whale”: -1, -2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, +8 (61 for 216, 28.24%)

Best Adapted Screenplay

How funny is it that the Academy might finally get around to honoring a writer like Larry McMurty, who wrote the original books from which “Hud,” “The Last Picture Show” and “Terms of Endearment,” for adapting someone else’s story to the screen?

The Breakdowns

1) The Best Adapted Screenplay has been awarded to a best picture nominee 25 of the past 27 times (92.59%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Munich.

2) As long as you’re not the one who wrote the lowest grossing nominee, you’ve won 24 of 27 times (88.89%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, The Constant Gardener, A History of Violence, Munich

3) Screenplays with only one credited writer have won 22 of 27 times (81.48%). Advantage: Capote, The Constant Gardener, A History of Violence

4) A film also nominated for Best Director has won for Best Adapted Screenplay 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Munich

5) Unlike Best Original Screenplay, the Best Adapted Screenplay winners have had stories set in the past 18 of 27 times (66.67%). Advantage: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Munich

By The Numbers

It’s another statistical tie in the screenplay category, this time between “Brokeback Mountain” and “Munich,” who each share the same advantages and disadvantages

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, “Brokeback Mountain”: +1, +2, -3, +4, +5 (91 for 135, 67.41%)

Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, “Munich”: +1, +2, -3, +4, +5 (91 for 135, 67.41%)

Dan Futterman, “Capote”: +1, -2, +3, +4, +5 (87 for 135, 64.44%)

Jeffrey Caine, “The Constant Gardener”: -1, +2, +3, -4, -5 (65 for 135, 48.15%)

Josh Olson, “A History of Violence”: -1, +2, +3, -4, -5 (65 for 135, 48.15%)

Best Foreign Language Film

The Breakdowns

1) Films released in the U.S. prior to final balloting have won 21 of the past 27 times (77.78%). Advantage: Paradise Now, Sophie School, Tsotsi

2) Films submitted from a country in Western Europe have won 20 of 27 times (74.07%). Advantage: Don’t Tell, Joyeux Noel

3) As long as your film does not have the longest running time, you’ve won 19 of 27 times (70.37%). Advantage: Joyeux Noel, Paradise Now, Sophie Scholl, Tsotsi

4) Stories set in the past have won 16 of 27 times (59.26%). Advantage: Joyeux Noel, Sophie Scholl

By The Numbers

The German entry has the best statistical chance of winning

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Germany): +1, -2, +3, +4 (63 for 108, 58.33%)

Joyeux Noel (France): -1, +2, +3, +4 (61 for 108, 56.48%)

Paradise Now (Palestinian Authority): +1, -2, +3, -4 (58 for 108, 53.70%)

Tsotsi (South Africa): +1, -2, +3, -4 (58 for 108, 53.70%)

Don’t Tell (Italy): -1, +2, -3, -4 (45 for 108, 41.67%)

Best Animated Film

The Breakdowns

1) Films released before October 1st have won 3 of the past 4 winners (75%). Advantage: Howl’s Moving Castle, Tim Burton’s Corpse bride

2) The film with the highest gross has won 2 of 4 (50%). Advantage: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

By The Numbers

In the previous four years, all four winners were the clear runaway with the pre-awards, but all three films evenly split kudos with the groups that give away Animation awards. And three of the previous four winners were CG animated, which none of this years films were.

Howl’s Moving Castle: +1, -2 (5 for 8, 62.50%)

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride: +1, -2 (5 for 8, 62.50%)

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: -1, +2 (3 for 8, 37.50%)

Find out who wins this year’s Oscars, when the Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2005 are presented on Sunday, March 5, 2006, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, televised live on ABC beginning at 5 PM PST/8 PM EST. A one-hour red carpet arrivals show will precede the telecast at 4 PM PST/7 PM EST.

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