Oscar Handicap 2018: Best Picture of the Year

We begin (or conclude, depending on how you go about perusing) our twelfth series of articles with the most important and prestigious award in all cinema.

We took a look many of the major categories over the past 39 ceremonies (for the films of 1979 through 2016), as well as certain factors that have been predominant over the history of the Academy Awards, and found some surprising mathematical data, which may give some pause about who might win on Sunday night.

Please 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 Cody Bellinger hits with men in scoring position, with less than two outs, at Dodger Stadium, during day games, against left handers, on artificial turf, when the count is 3-1, etc.), but these numbers are meant to entertain and start some interesting discussions about the nominees.

For clarification purposes, 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. When Christian Bale won Best Supporting Actor in 2011 for playing Dicky Eklund, Dicky is a real person. Had Bale won for “American Hustle,” his Irving Rosenfeld was a fictionalized version of real-life con man and ABSCAM particpant Melvin Weinberg, and thus would not qualify.

And now, on with the show…

I find myself in an interesting conundrum. For the first time that I can remember, I have not seen a single Best Picture nominee by Oscar Day. I get plenty of press screening invitations, and I can see all the free movies I want thanks to being a manager at a movie theatre, but as you can tell from the number of times I post on FilmJerk on any given week, I simply just haven’t had the time to go out and see all these movies. I make time to take Mrs. FilmJerk to see the latest Marvel movie, and I make the time to take my nephew to see the latest Star Wars movie, because that’s family and family is so very important, but even when I get an invite directly from the director of an upcoming movie to see his movie that could possibly land one of Hollywood’s greatest actors getting a long-deserved Oscar next year, and get me a digital screener to boot so it’s as easy to watch it as it is to watch anything on Hulu or Netflix, I can’t help but thank him and ask him for some patience because I honestly don’t know when I’ll have the time to give his film its proper consideration. And I really do want to see his film. The buzz on the film has been great, and its getting released through one of the most respected distributors around, but I can’t tell him when I’ll be about to see his movie. Sorry, RC, if you’re reading this. I really do want to see DY, and I am genuinely excited for its impending release. I will watch it soon, even if I have to hunker down in a Starbucks inside a Target in San Pedro to do so.

But enough of my yapping, let’s get to the numbers…

The Breakdowns

1) Movies with nominated screenplays have won for Best Picture 38 of the past 39 ceremonies (97.4%). Advantage: Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

2) Films nominated for the SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast have won here 21 of 22 times the Screen Actors Guild has also handed out awards (95.5%). Advantage: Get Out, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

3) Films nominated for Best Editing have won Best Picture 37 of 39 (94.9%). Advantage: Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

4) Best Picture winners have come from movies whose directors were also nominated for Best Director 37 of 39 (94.9%). Advantage: Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

5) A movie also named one of the American Film Institute’s Top Ten Films of the Year, or given an AFI Special Award, has won here 15 of the 17 years the AFI has been giving out its Top Ten list (88.2%). Advantage: Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

6) A BAFTA nominee for Best Film has won here 32 of 39 (82.1%). Advantage: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

7) The Best Picture Oscar has gone to one of the movies with the highest or second highest nomination count 52 times in the last 66 years (78.8%). Advantage: Dunkirk, The Shape of Water

8) Best Picture winners have lined up with the winner of the Directors Guild’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Award 53 times in the 69 years of the DGA Award’s existence. (76.8%). Advantage: The Shape of Water

9) Movies released after September 30th have won Best Picture 28 of 39 times (71.8%). Advantage: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

10) Best Picture winners have had at least two acting nominations 27 of 39 (69.2%). Advantage: Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

11) Pictures that have received the Golden Globe for Best Picture have won 45 of the last 66 years (68.2%). Advantage: Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

12) The Best Picture winner has also won the PGA Golden Laurel Award 19 of the 28 times the latter award has been presented (67.9%). Advantage: The Shape of Water

13) Stories predominantly set outside the past twenty years have won 22 of 39 (56.4%). Advantage: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of Water

14) Movies primarily set in the United States of America have won 22 of 39 (56.4%). Advantage: Get Out, Lady Bird, The Post, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

15) Movies with a screenplay that also received a Best Screenplay award from the Writers Guild have won Best Picture 38 of 69 (55.1%). Advantage: Call Me By Your Name, Get Out

16) Best Picture Winners have come from materials previously published or produced 21 of 39 (53.8%). Advantage: Call Me By Your Name

17) If the director of the film is not also a producer on the film, that film has won 21 of 39 (53.8%). Advantage: Darkest Hour, Lady Bird

Bonus (and we call this one “The Mythbuster”): The winner of the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble Cast has won an Oscar 11 of the 22 times the former award has previously been given (50%). No advantage whatsoever: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

By the Numbers…

I’ve been a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro since I played his first film, Cronos, at the NuWilshire Theatre in Santa Monica back in March 1994, and it has been a pleasure to see him continue to grow as a filmmaker over the past twenty-four years. His success working on films that eschew the norms we expect from “Hollywood” is a model for up and coming filmmakers, and should be a wake-up call to financiers and distributors that you can have critical acclaim, awards glory and global financial success in these mid-range dramas that are all but ignored by most studio entities. And with the potential loss of Fox Searchlight, who has released a number of Best Picture nominees and winners (including The Shape of Water and Three Billboards), once Fox is absorbed by Disney in their impending merger, is ever more reason why we need to continue to celebrate the little guys in the face of an ever-shrinking marketplace. It’s great that we can watch whatever films we want in the comfort of our homes, but movies are meant to be seen first at a movie theatre, and we will continue to lose films like The Shape of Water and Three Billboards if we as a society continue to marginalize the non-blockbuster by waiting to see them at home. Eventually, there won’t be enough financial incentive to make films like these, because they don’t add enough to the bottom line deemed so important to the stockholders. An ironic statement, I know, considering what I just wrote above about watching a movie on my computer at a Starbucks inside a Target. We need to make a stand somewhere.

Call Me By Your Name (Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito): +1, -2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11, -12, +13, -14, +15, +16, -17 (279 of 727, 38.38%)
Darkest Hour (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urbanski): -1, -2, -3, -4, -5, +6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11, -12, +13, -14, -15, -16, +17 (249 of 727, 34.25%)
Dunkirk (Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan): -1, -2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, -8, -9, -10, -11, -12, +13, -14, -15, -16, -17 (350 of 727, 48.14%)
Get Out (Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Jordan Peele): +1, +2, -3, +4, +5, -6, -7, -8, -9, -10, -11, -12, -13, +14, +15, -16, -17 (316 of 727, 43.47%)
Lady Bird (Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O’Neill: +1, +2, -3, +4, +5, -6, -7, -8, +9, +10, +11, -12, -13, +14, -15, -16, +17 (344 of 727, 47.32%)
Phantom Thread (JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi): -1, -2, -3, +4, -5, -6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11, -12, +13, -14, -15, -16, -17 (256 of 727, 35.21%)
The Post (Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger): -1, -2, -3, -4, +5, -6, -7, -8, +9, -10, -11, -12, +13, +14, -15, -16, -17 (239 of 727, 32.87%)
The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale): +1, -2, +3, +4, +5, +6, +7, +8, +9, +10, -11, +12, +13, +14, -15, -16, -17 (471 of 727, 64.79%)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh): +1, +2, +3, -4, +5, +6, -7, -8, +9, +10, +11, -12, -13, +14, -15, -16, -17 (390 of 727, 53.65%)

So, how did we do last year?

Well, we missed Best Picture, but then… so did the Academy, at first.
We got Director, all four Acting categories, Cinematography, Original Screenplay and Animated Feature.
We also missed Adapted Screenplay and Foreign Language Film.
So we were able to call eight of the eleven categories we handicapped last year.

Thank you for taking the time to check us out.

All articles in this series:

Best Picture of the Year
Best Director
Best Actor and Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography
Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Feature
Best Production Design
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Best Editing
Best Costume Design
Best Score
Best Sound Effects and Best Sound Mixing
Best Documentary Feature
Best Visual Effects