EDITORIAL: Make yourself a better Oscar predictor

(Image: theblackandblue.com)

(Image: theblackandblue.com)

Here on Every Movie Has a Lesson, I have fashioned myself as an informed individual when it comes to predicting the winners of the Academy Awards.  My role as a critic has me in tune with the films of the season and my eyes on the industry has me seeing the trends. My annual claim has been “stick with me and I will help you win your Oscar pool.”  Many friends has backed my picks and come out winners. I wanted to peel back the curtain and show you how I do it. There are four areas to scout.

1. Observe the regional critics awards

The annual “awards season” kicks off in November when the many critics groups (including the three I am in myself) across the country start chiming in with their winners and lists of bests. The National Board of Review tends to start followed by critics circles and associations in Los Angeles, New York, and Boston.  I track their winners on my annual Awards Tracker page.

The caveat is critics are not Oscar voters.  Their picks have been snubbed by Oscars time and again.  What they critics do count as, though, are the proverbial town cryers and buzz influencers.  They get the word out and drum up the audience. I consider them the board setters for the chess game that follows.  This year, critical darlings like Roma and First Reformed have gotten bumps they wouldn’t have got from the general public.

2. Follow the money #1

Many times the films that make it to critics’ eyes and noses enough to make their awards lists are coming from studios with deep pockets. The volume of screener copies, extra screenings, and other promotional items is mountainous. I know I’ve personally received no less than 75 physical discs in the mail this season since November.  The marketing budgets to ship that kind of “look at me” volume have to be insane. The online versions are all of the “For Your Consideration” web ads that plaster Hollywood entertainment sites. Click on industry trades like Variety or The Hollywood Reporter or even IMDb and you’ll see the stars and quotes galore.

3. Value the big guilds

As stated earlier, critics don’t vote for Oscars.  The people that do, however, work in the biz and they have their own annual awards too.  After all the critics have had their say, the final two months of awards season probably seem quiet. Not so. They can be decisive. From producers and writers to actors and cinematographers, each discipline has their own professional guild that are the specialized voters of the artistic and technical awards.  For example, more often than not, the winner of the Costume Designers Guild Award goes on to win the Oscar because the bulk of that category’s voters are the same people. Following this data will have you clean up on all of the under-the-line categories with knowledge and confidence that most non-experts guess on.  That is precisely how you win Oscar pools.

4. Follow the money #2

Instead of guesstimating or betting with your heart instead of your head in an Oscar pool, look to the oddsmakers.  Vegas does their homework, period. They have their insider ways of tracking trends we don’t even see because there’s money to be made.  The betting favorites have fluctuated all season, but the surges that develop from the Oscar nominations to the final show solidify eventual winners.  

Again, it’s the money you don’t see.  This year, even though A Star is Born has been holding court at the box office since its release at the beginning of October, many believe Roma will win Best Picture.  This will be certainly a tight competition, so make sure to frequently visit the following odds tracker for the 2019 Oscars to see who the odds is favoring while we get closed to the event.  If your Oscar poll has prize money at stake, then you need to follow the cash flow.  Tap into these four areas and you can be the star of the office conference room and water cooler on the Monday after the Academy Awards.