K. I'm setting myself up for a failure of spectacular proportions here (because Murphy's Law dictates that this will be the one year my "system" won't work...). But here it is (and may God, man, and Steven Spielberg have mercy on my soul). I guess it's *sorta* scientific, but can vary based on a couple of the factors, which is why we could use the same system and come up with different picks. No guarantees...here it goes.
My Oscar System has five main factors, three of which are fixed and two of which are variable, and could change even during the course of the Oscars broadcast. Each of these factors is weighed equally (20%), with veto rights given to factors #4 during the Broadcast on March 23, and #5 on March 23 prior to the start of, OR during the Broadcast.
1. SAG, Golden Globes, Sundance.
The SAG is a peer-conferred award...the Golden Globes are a popular-masses-conferred award...the Sundance awards are conferred by the snooty, hoity-toidy "film enthusiast" types. Figure out who won those three awards in all categories. Watch for the names and the movies that pop up in all three places. This increases the likelihood of winning an Oscar, in my opinion.
2. The Ebert Test.
Some people wear WWJD bracelets, but when it comes to movies, I ask, "What Did Roger Ebert Say?" I agree with Ebert in roughly 90% of his reviews, but of the cases where he and I disagree, the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences tends to fall on the side of Ebert. (Case in point, Spider-Man. I LOVED Spider-Man, but Ebert had issues with it...now look at how many nominations it didn't get.) Ebert raves about actor, mentions the word Oscar, or gives movie three stars or higher, and you're looking at a serious contender.
3. Oscar Legacy.
For every nominee, look up: How many times has this person been nominated, and how many times have they won? Chances are, if this particular person is older, actually dead, or has been passed over several times...look out.
Take Randy Newman...passed over 14 times until he took Best Song last year. (In that particular case, though, it was a Factor Five Veto that caused me to guess correctly...read further for explanation.) John Williams, who has won 22 Oscars for Best Score, has a lesser likelihood this time unless it's one of those ones like "Indiana Jones" that sticks in your head for years. (Not so, this time.)
FACTOR FOUR...variable during Oscar broadcast.
"The Common Thread Theory"
There are usually one or two common threads in the movies that win Oscars any given year, I've noticed. For instance, you have "the year of the mentally challenged" where all the actors who win do so through having to play a mentally ill character. Or, you'll have "the year of the historical drama," "the year of the epic," "the year of the woman," "the year of the Jew," "the year of gay pride," etc.
Base? I agree it certainly sounds that way...but...check it out by looking at the Legacy section of Oscar.com. I think there's something to this. Last year was "year of escapism" coupled with "year of the African-American." This year could go "year of the gangster" or "year of the sexist" very easily, but we won't be able to tell until during the show, when the first four awards are over. It always follows a theme, you just have to find it in the first 45 minutes of the show. Know the theme, and you know where the voters' heads were.
FACTOR FIVE...more predictable at the time of, or even during, Oscar broadcast.
"Personal and Political Factors."
The voters are human. It would be nice to think that they base their votes solely on a performance alone, but because you can find common themes, we know that it's also subjective. Therefore, pay attention to tabloid headlines, and gossip rags like People and PageSix.
To further explain my Factor Five veto that caused me to change my vote to Randy Newman, and get it right: the Oscars initiated a new category last year for Full-length Animated feature. By all rights Walt Disney's advancements made this category possible...yet "Shrek" (a movie that parodized Disney CEO Michael Eisner at several points) managed to beat out Disney's "Monsters, Inc." A major slap in the face to Disney, there was one other category where "Monsters, Inc." was nominated: Randy Newman for Best Original Song. The win was not SOLELY because Randy Newman had been passed over 14 times, but it was also a guilt award to pacify Disney. (Gossip headlines shortly before the broadcast about Michael Eisner's contract, and before that, about the whole Shrek-parody-nastiness.)
One example this year is...Nicole Kidman. While her performance may or may not be the best of the year, she was very publicly dumped a year ago by Tom Cruise, and has had tons of painful publicity and public sympathy from that. If she won now, she would be "single mom puts her life back together and triumphs despite sadness," in a role that helped her work through the despondency, and the public would LOVE to see her win for that reason.
Now, there are ALWAYS two or three awards that are total wild-card upsets (cough...Jim Broadbent...cough), but it hasn't generally affected my ability to win the pool. I have an uncanny ability that infuriates my husband to no end, with unexplainably correct guesses on things like Foreign Film, Documentary, and Animated Short.
SO....LET'S PLAY...Who's in? (Gets out abacus and starts calculating...)