January 2013

Argo versus Lincoln (Syndicated on the Huffington Post)

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The most exciting movie-to-movie competition in this year's Oscars is between Ben Affleck's Argo and Steven Spielberg's' Lincoln, which will play out in three categories: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. In the beginning of this Oscar season, with the Oscar nominations on January 10, Lincoln held a big lead in all three categories, but everything that can move has shifted towards Argo since then.

Most of the discussions around the Oscars focus on the six main categories, but there are 18 other categories with awards on Oscar night. Six categories focus on the best picture in a certain class. Not surprisingly my predictions tend to favor the better known movies in those categories including: Brave as animated feature, Searching for Sugar Man as documentary feature, and Amour as foreign language film. The other twelve categories focus on the key elements of major movies. While these predictions focus more on mainstream movies, it is not necessarily the ones dominating the main categories: Life of Pi leads in three, Zero Dark Thirty in three, Anna Karenina in two, and Lincoln in only one.

Obama Versus Lincoln and Argo (Syndicated on the Huffington Post)

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Branching out from politics and economics, I have been examining Oscar predictions over the last few weeks. While I approach the science of predictions the same way for both political elections and the Oscars, there are some key differences. When I forecast politics I utilize four main sources of data: fundamental data (i.e., economic indicators, incumbency, etc.,), prediction markets, polls, and user-generated data. Two of these sources: polls and fundamental data are much less useful for the Oscars. This places greater strain on the other two sources: prediction markets and user-generated data.

The Golden Globes are just the first of a series of anticipated events that occur between the nominations and Oscar night, which help shape our expectations for the Oscars. Our expectations are primarily founded on prediction markets, which respond quickly to new information; they update here in real-time during major events. The outcomes of the Golden Globes cemented our expectations in most categories, but the few surprises will not have as large an impact on the Oscars as you may expect.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominees for 85th Academy Awards and the big story so far this awards season is Lincoln, with 12 nominations. In our initial likelihoods of victory for the big six categories, Lincoln is our most likely winner in three: best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) at near certainty, best picture at 94 percent, and best director (Steven Spielberg) at 70 percent. For best supporting actor, Lincoln's Tommy Lee Jones at 46 percent is in a tight race with a The Master's Phillip Seymour Hoffman at 48 percent.