Oscar Predictions 2011 – Which Movie Will Win the Best Picture Award?

The question of the year in the movie industry: Who will win the Best Picture award? Who will take another Academy Award home as winner and who will just spend the night applauding others? As no one knows for sure yet, let’s take a look at the list of the Best Picture Nominees and try to come up with some system to make predictions.

Best Picture Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards:

Black Swan — director: Darren Aronofsky; writers: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz; stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel

The Fighter — director: David O. Russell; writers: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy; stars: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams

Inception — director: Christopher Nolan; writer: Christopher Nolan; stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page

The Kids Are All Right — director: Lisa Cholodenko; writers: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg; stars: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo

The King’s Speech — director: Tom Hooper; writer: David Seidler; stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter

127 Hours — director: Danny Boyle; writers: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy; stars: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara

The Social Network — director: David Fincher; writers: Aaron Sorkin, Ben Mezrich; stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake

Toy Story 3 — director: Lee Unkrich; writers: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton; stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack

True Grit — directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen; writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld

Winter’s Bone — director: Debra Granik; writers: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini; stars: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes and Garret Dillahunt

Hmm, now that’s a list of some pretty good movies; how are these guys in the Academy supposed to decide who is better? To whom should they give the Oscar statue? Oh, the tension … Maybe we can help out by comparing them — how they were created, how they did in theaters and other awards? Maybe we can develop some kind of system for determining the most likely winners …

You can see that most of them have really big names in cast and crew. Though celebrity pressure can come from any of these movies, it’s not clear how to evaluate one or another star’s influence for popularity of the movie. Also, one should not forget that we all have our favorites, which is not good for making objective predictions. So we have to take some other, measurable and comparable things into account when deciding.

First thing we could look at is a) how much was invested in creating these movies b) how much they earned from them. In short — were they successful and the effort worth the money?

List no. 1: “Budget size vs. success”

  1. Black Swan — budget: 13,000,000; earnings: 83,250,375; ROI: 5.4
  2. The Kids Are All Right — budget: 4,000,000; earnings: 20,803,237; ROI: 4.2
  3. The King’s Speech — budget: 15,000,000; earnings: 57,313,881; ROI: 2.8
  4. True Grit — budget: 38,000,000; earnings: 137,963,519; ROI: 2.6
  5. Winter’s Bone — budget: 2,000,000; earnings: 6,271,086; ROI: 2.1
  6. The Fighter — budget: 25,000,000; earnings: 72,680,740; ROI: 1.9
  7. The Social Network — budget: 40,000,000; earnings: 95,408,473; ROI: 1.4
  8. Toy Story 3 — budget: 200,000,000; earnings: 415,004,880; ROI: 1.1
  9. Inception — budget: 160,000,000; earnings: 292,568,851; ROI: 0.8
  10. 127 Hours — budget: 18,000,000; earnings: 11,296,805; ROI: -0.4

What we get here is a very simple list of the Best Picture nominees according to return on investment [ROI] made in making them, the biggest return taking the first place, then going down to the smallest at the bottom. Basically, it shows how much money Oscar nominees made in the US from premier till January, divided by their estimated budget ($ numbers from imdb.com and boxofficemojo.com). Conclusion – big budget is not everything you need for a blockbuster; Black Swan and The Kids Are All Right had budgets more than 10 times smaller compared to Inception, but they managed to make around four to five times more from one dollar invested. The biggest loser so far: 127 Hours, which hasn’t managed to earn enough to cover costs yet. I didn’t rank them according to gross earnings, as popular opinion and sales can easily be manipulated by increasing spending on advertising; ROI shows a lot more in this case.

Secondly, we could consider how have these movies done in professional competitions?

List no. 2: “What do the pros think?”

  1. The Social Network — nominations: 55; wins: 49; Oscar nom.:8; Total: 112
  2. The King’s Speech — nominations: 73; wins: 16; Oscar nom.: 12; Total: 101
  3. Black Swan — nominations: 71; wins: 21; Oscar nom.: 5; Total: 97
  4. Inception — nominations: 57; wins: 27; Oscar nom.: 8; Total: 92
  5. True Grit — nominations: 55; wins: 12; Oscar nom.: 10; Total: 77
  6. 127 Hours — nominations: 55; wins: 4; Oscar nom.: 6; Total: 65
  7. Winter’s Bone — nominations: 42; wins: 19; Oscar nom.: 4; Total: 65
  8. The Fighter — nominations: 32; wins: 23; Oscar nom.: 7; Total: 62
  9. The Kids Are All Right — nominations: 51; wins: 3; Oscar nom.: 4; Total: 58
  10. Toy Story 3 — nominations: 18; wins: 18; Oscar nom.: 5; Total: 41

Here I added up all nominations with wins to see which movies were noticed the most in different awards. The Social Network takes the lead, with The King’s Speech and Black Swan still in the top three before the big spenders like Inception and others. Hmm, do we see a trend here already?

Thirdly, it’s very important to compare how viewers and critics evaluate these movies:

List no. 3: “A, B, C … or F?”

  1. Toy Story 3 — IMDB: 8.7; metacritics.com: 92; average: 9.0
  2. The Social Network — IMDB: 8.2; metacritics.com: 95; average: 8.9
  3. The King’s Speech — IMDB: 8.5; metacritics.com: 88; average: 8.7
  4. Winter’s Bone — IMDB: 7.5; metacritics.com: 90; average: 8.3
  5. Black Swan — IMDB: 8.6; metacritics.com: 79; average: 8.3
  6. 127 Hours — IMDB: 8.2; metacritics.com: 82; average: 8.2
  7. Inception — IMDB: 9.0; metacritics.com: 74; average: 8.2
  8. True Grit — IMDB: 8.2; metacritics.com: 80; average: 8.1
  9. The Fighter — IMDB: 8.2; metacritics.com: 79; average: 8.1
  10. The Kids Are All Right — IMDB: 7.4; metacritics.com: 86; average: 8.0

I ranked these movies according to IMDB and metacritic.com rankings average. Toy Story 3 does very well here, by both viewers on IMDB and critics on metacritic.com. Some of the previous leaders spatter across the list, giving an interesting perspective for possible Oscar evening winners.

And finally, to get the result we need to sum up all previous scores – from 1 to 10, the smallest score being the best:

List no. 4: “The Grande Finale”

  1. The King’s Speech – 8
  2. Black Swan — 9
  3. The Social Network – 10
  4. Winter’s Bone — 16
  5. True Grit — 17
  6. Toy Story 3 — 19
  7. Inception — 20
  8. The Kids Are All Right — 21
  9. 127 Hours — 22
  10. The Fighter — 23

So here you go! Top 3 most possible Oscar winners according to our little calculation are: The King’s Speech, followed by Black Swan and The Social Network. I guess this not a big surprise, as The King’s Speech already boast 16 wins in such awards as Golden Globes, British Independent Films and others. Let’s not forget 12 Oscar nominations, which is a great accomplishment by itself.

Edmundas invites you to visit “Top Best Movies” website for latest list of the best movies of 2010: http://movies-2010.info/ For more information, reviews and comments check out The Best Movies blog: http://the-best-movies-2010.blogspot.com/

Edmundas Balcikonis

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