Finally arriving to give Hollywood’s most glamorous night a much-needed spin of statistical analysis, Nate Silver has quickly tabbed over from ogling a browser window full of hot Bayesian formulas to compose his semi-annual blog about the Oscars. As he has before in 2009 and 2011, Silver set out to apply to the Academy Awards some of the same methodology he used to accurately predict that around half of the country disliked Mitt Romney—with the caveat that he only had around a 75-percent success rate both of those times, because the Oscars is just slightly less democratic and rational than the presidential election. Still, this time Silver is feeling pretty confident, given that he’s abandoned some of the more superfluous data he used to consider and decided to “look solely at the other awards that were given out in the run-up to the Oscars.” Which is what most people who aren’t fancy statisticians do anyway. But then, those people probably didn’t make graphs.
Nate Silver did make a graph, and his graph says that Argo is a lock for Best Picture, based on all the awards ceremonies before this where Argo has been a lock for Best Picture. Silver boldly goes one step further, comparing a comeback for once-presumed front-runner Lincoln to “expecting Rudolph W. Giuliani to have resurrected his campaign in Florida in 2008 after finishing in sixth place everywhere else,” which is a quality Nate Silver zinger, despite old white men liking both Rudy Giuliani and Lincoln.
Nevertheless, Silver expects Lincoln to claim consolation prizes in the form of Best Director and Best Actor nods, and—in a choice that isn’t totally obvious—a Best Supporting Actor win for Tommy Lee Jones, which Silver is basing solely on Jones’ SAG win, given the unpredictability of the field. Elsewhere in things you probably don’t need Nate Silver to tell you, Nate Silver predicts wins for Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway, saying Hathaway is “as safe a bet to win for Les Misérables as Mitt Romney was to win Utah,” like that other thing he predicted that time.
But can you predict what their victories will do for the human heart, Nate Silver? Or do you have an 85-percent chance of never feeling the joy of surprise?