There are many methods used to project tomorrow’s Best Pic nominations. Let’s try a logical approach while dropping a few numbers into the thought process:
- 5-10: The number of titles AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) will nominate in total. All members vote to nominate Best Picture via preferential ballot listing favorites one through five.
- 6,440: Estimated total voting body of AMPAS. 6,124 members as of December ’14 plus 322 invitees in June ’15 (assuming 98% invitation acceptance).
- 586: 1st choice votes needed to secure a nomination (9.1% of ballots cast, assuming full and correct participation).
- 322: Total votes needed to reach the 5% minimum required to receive a nomination.
- 500: approx number of voters shared by BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and AMPAS (7.76% total vote).
Other heavy indicators to take into account:
-Since AMPAS expanded the Best Pic field (for the 2010 awards) films that were nominated for a BAFTA also earned Oscar nominations 93.3% of the time (the only exceptions being Drive and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy in the tumultuous 2012 race).
-90% of DGA (Director’s Guild of America) nominees over the past decade have gone on to receive a nomination (only Girl With the Dragon Tattoo missed since expansion).
-The PGA (Producer’s Guild of America) has included 85.5% of eventual Oscar contenders among their 10 annual nominees since field expansion.
As such, anything that’s nominated by BAFTA, DGA, and PGA should be firm LOCKS. Spotlight, The Big Short, and The Revenant are therefor in.
Over the past decade, no film has made the BAFTA/PGA shortlists and lost-out on an Oscar nom. So even though the A-Team (Spielberg and Hanks) will likely miss out on their respective fields’ mentions, we should feel free to mark Bridge of Spies as VERY LIKELY.
While The Martian and Mad Max: Road Fury may have missed out on SAG’s top prize, they’ve been nominated by other guilds/societies whose field-related voters account for over 40% of the Academy. Cinematography, Editing, Sound, Production Design, and VFX really add up. The Martian will feel like a natural fit for many voters with Ridley, Damon, baller cast, etc. And while a hard-action genre pic may seem an odd fit for the annals of film history, Mad Max truly exceeded expectations in every possible aspect of production. Both titles are LIKELY.
With 6 pics marked for ‘LIKELY’ and higher, who might be the last 4, if any, to make it in? Straight Outta Compton, Carol, Brooklyn, and Sicario seem the most probable. Room, Steve Jobs, and Trumbo are all carried by strong performances that may not be enough to get them in. Hateful Eight, Beasts of No Nation, and Ex Machina all seem like far-reaches at this point. Unfortunately, Inside Out just doesn’t seem to have enough power behind it to compete for Best Pic this year.
Compton received SAG, PGA, and WGA nominations and gives the Academy a chance to tout their continued “diversification” push. Carol may have missed out on a PGA, but Todd Haynes is probably the 6th-place director and Blanchett/Mara will get a lot of love from the Actors division. The thematic material and prestige should contrast well against a populist-laden group.
As if enough action/thrillers weren’t represented already, I’m going to include Sicario because of its PGA/WGA noms and technical recognition. It’s also likely to be one of two movies from this year (along with The Big Short) that we view down the road as a representation of the era’s sociological standing. Too bad El Chapo couldn’t have been found a week earlier…
With nine spots filled, I’m thinking that Brooklyn comes up short of the 5% needed to qualify. Don’t get me wrong, the movie’s flawless. Easily one of the 10 (if not 5) best pictures of the year. But Fox already has 2 clydesdales in the race so Brooklyn seems to be fighting for nothing more than scraps. Saoirse Ronan’s a shoe-in nod for Actress but I just don’t see that being enough to separate it from other thesp-focused pics like…
Room seems to be hurting from having a distributor that may not be big enough to play this game effectively. I’d still count Brie Larson as the Actress front-runner and young Jacob Tremblay’s very impressive (he should be considered for lead, not supporting).
Universal tried to treat Steve Jobs like a shiny new iPhone model when it should have staggered the release to build word-of-mouth. Still, I think it’s one of the more inventive pics of the year. Danny Boyle straight killing the game.
My projections in order of projected ballot preference (which we’ll never see the real results for but whatevs):
- The Big Short
- The Revenant
- Bridge of Spies
- The Martian
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Straight Outta Compton
Just missing: Brooklyn, Room
Damn politics: Steve Jobs, Inside Out