Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight makes his 2013 Oscar picks


If you’re a politics nerd like me, you were probably checking Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog multiple times a day in the lead up to the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections. Silver’s predictions for both elections were startlingly accurate, meaning that he must be a warlock using Satan’s own arithmetic deviltry.

Silver put that math magic to work today with some 2013 Oscar predictions on FiveThirtyEight, though he admits only a 75% success rate with his previous guesses. He’s adjusted his methods this year, and his big pick for Best Picture is Argo. Silver added:

If Argo is a shoo-in for Best Picture, then you might expect Ben Affleck to be the clear favorite for Best Director as well. And he almost certainly would be — if only he had been nominated.

After the cut are all of Nate Silver’s predictions for the major Academy Awards and a little bit of his commentary. If you’re a numbers and statistics junkie, definitely check out Nate Silver’s full 2013 Oscar prediction post for a breakdown of his methods.

What do you think of Silver’s Oscar predictions? Note how they stack up against Flixist’s Oscar predictions, which were determined using pterodactyl maths.

[Via FiveThirtyEight/The New York Times]

Nate Silver’s Academy Award Picks

Best Picture – Argo

Silver on his pick: “Sometimes, of course, it shouldn’t require a formula to know who is going to win. Such is the case with the Best Picture nominees this year. One film has dominated the category, and it is Argo.”


Best Director – Steven Spielberg

Silver on his pick: “Among the five directors who were actually nominated for the Oscars, Steven Spielberg (for Lincoln) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi) were nominated for other directorial awards far more often than the others, and Mr. Spielberg slightly more regularly than Mr. Lee. So the method gives the award to Mr. Spielberg on points, but it’s going to be blind luck if we get this one right: you can’t claim to have a data-driven prediction when you don’t have any data.”


Best Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis

Silver on his pick: “…Mr. Day-Lewis has swept the awards that predict Oscar success well.”


Best Actress – Jennifer Lawrence

Silver on his pick: “…the SAG Awards have a better track record than the BAFTAs across all acting categories, despite usually predating them on the calendar. The safe money therefore remains on Ms. Lawrence, with Ms. Riva and Ms. Chastain being viable alternatives.”


Best Supporting Actor – Tommy Lee Jones

Silver on his pick: “As is the case for the other acting categories, however, our method tends to default to the SAG winner when there is a lack of consensus otherwise: that was Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln.”


Best Supporting Actress – Anne Hathaway

Silver on his pick: “There is considerably less reason for last-minute campaigning in this category: Anne Hathaway as about as safe a bet to win for Les Misérables as Mitt Romney was to win Utah. If Sally Field or Amy Adams wins instead, it will probably be time for me to retire from the Oscar-forecasting business.”

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.