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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 19, 2009 at 11:30 AM

The art of Oscar predictions

So, my Oscar picks have just gone to press, in our Sunday arts section. They’re set. They’re done. And I have a nasty feeling that they’re going to be very, very wrong.
Never mind my title above; Oscar predictions are all about luck. There’s a teeny bit of knowledge involved (i.e. anybody this year who picks “Frost/Nixon” to win best picture is just not paying attention), but nothing that isn’t available to anyone with a computer or a copy of Entertainment Weekly. You don’t necessarily have to have seen the nominated films to predict the Oscars accurately; in fact, I’ve long thought it’s better if you don’t. I’ve noticed that office Oscar pools are almost always won by somebody who says he/she never goes to movies.
I’ve been predicting the Oscars publicly for seven years now, and here’s why I think my picks are going to hell in a handbasket this year: I never have two good years in a row. Last year, if I may modestly say so, my predictions rocked: I correctly picked all eight major awards (yes, even Tilda Swinton), and only missed a couple of the minor ones. People were emailing me asking if I had insider info, and thanking me for helping them win big money in their Oscar pools. I basked in the glory, knowing it was shortlived. Years ago, during the big “Lord of the Rings” Oscar year, I got a similar high score; something like 21 out of 24 categories correct. The next year? Ouch. Ten. Embarrassing.
There are certain guidelines that can help with Oscar picks. Look to the guild awards (Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild, etc.), which echo the Oscar at least two-thirds of the time, often more. Sound awards often go to the loudest movie. Costume prizes usually go to the most elaborate period costumes. If there’s a Pixar movie in the animated feature category, it will win. And, for heaven’s sake, don’t pay too much attention to my picks this year. (No, I didn’t see the documentary shorts either. Just guess.)
By the way, if you want to enter our Red Carpet Movie Awards contest, click here.

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