Academy Awards Predictions: Pa. mathematician, movie buff creates method to guess Oscar winners

ByAlicia Vitarelli KGO logo
Friday, April 23, 2021
Pa. mathematician, movie buff creates method to guess Oscars winners
He calls it Oscarmetrics: The Math Behind The Biggest Night in Hollywood.

PHILADELPHIA -- Hollywood's biggest night is Sunday, and if you have a little informal Oscars pool going, you might want to pick up a book by a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania author, movie buff and math enthusiast.

Ben Zauzmer designed a method to predict the big winners. He calls it Oscarmetrics: The Math Behind The Biggest Night in Hollywood.

Yes, he watches all of the films. But make no mistake, this is all about the numbers.

For the past 10 years, the odds have been in Zauzmer's favor.

"I've always been an Oscars fan and I'd always been a math guy," Zauzmer said.

Zauzmer is now the Director of Baseball Analytics for the New York Mets.

The Upper Dublin High School grad started his Oscarmetrics at Harvard University.

"Starting freshman year of college, I got into this idea of predicting the Oscars with math," Zauzmer said.

Alicia Vitarelli interviews the head of Oscarmetrics

So, how's his record?

"Whichever nominee the model identifies as having the highest percentage chance to win, won 77% of the time," he said.

Let's crunch the numbers for the actors.

"Anthony Hopkins did win the BAFTA," Zauzmer said. "But it is still looking like the Best Actor will go to Chadwick Boseman for his performance in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.' Daniel Kaluuya has won absolutely everything for 'Judas and the Black Messiah,' so he is the strong front runner for Best Supporting Actor."

For the ladies, Best Supporting Actress seems like a lock.

"The BAFTAs and the SAGs both went in favor of Yuh-Jung Youn, the actress from 'Minari,'" Zauzmer said. "She is probably the favorite at this point."

But best actress is a mathematical conundrum.

"The numbers have this one really close," he says. "I would say that this is the only one where I wouldn't be surprised if four of the five nominees win."

"The math is leaning towards Carey Mulligan by 'that much,'" Zauzmer said.

Sometimes, Zauzmer said, he doesn't necessarily agree with the math.

"Personally, my favorite was "Promising Young Woman," which I just thought was a spectacular movie and social commentary," Zauzmer said. "But, it's looking more and more likely that the front runner is 'Nomadland.'"

His prediction for Best Picture: "Nomadland."

Feelings, he said, play no part here.

Mark your calendars: April 25 is Oscar Sunday. Live coverage begins Sunday morning and continues all day with special "On The Red Carpet" coverage leading up to the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. After the last award is handed out, stay with "On The Red Carpet" for continuing coverage. Be sure to follow @OnTheRedCarpet on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok for all your Oscar news and information.