This year’s predictions are now live on The Boston Globe!

Click here to learn about how these numbers were calculated. Or, check out trivia about the 2012 Academy Awards.

Here are the results for the 2012 Oscars, awarded in February 2013:Best Picture pie chart

Best Picture
Winner: Argo (60%)
Lincoln (9%)
Silver Linings Playbook (9%)
Life of Pi (8%)
Zero Dark Thirty (6%)
Les Miserables (4%)
Django Unchained (2%)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (1%)
Amour (1%)

Best Director
Winner: Ang Lee – Life of Pi (48%)
David O. Russell – Silver Linings Playbook (30%)
Benh Zeitlin – Beasts of the Southern Wild (10%)
Steven Spielberg – Lincoln (10%)
Michael Haneke – Amour (2%)

Best Actor
Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln (74%)
Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables (16%)
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook (6%)
Denzel Washington – Flight (3%)
Joaquin Phoenix – The Master (1%)

Best Actress
Winner: Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook (60%)
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty (25%)
Emmanuelle Riva – Amour (11%)
Quvenzhane Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild (3%)
Naomi Watts – The Impossible (1%)

Best Supporting Actor
Tommy Lee Jones – Lincoln (43%)
Winner: Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained (34%)
Alan Arkin – Argo (11%)
Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook (11%)
Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master (1%)

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Anne Hathaway – Les Miserables (69%)
Sally Field – Lincoln (15%)
Jacki Weaver – Silver Linings Playbook (10%)
Helen Hunt – The Sessions (5%)
Amy Adams – The Master (1%)

Best Writing – Original Screenplay
Zero Dark Thirty (52%)
Winner: Django Unchained (21%)
Amour (20%)
Moonrise Kingdom (6%)
Flight (1%)

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Argo (39%)
Silver Linings Playbook (24%)
Lincoln (13%)
Life of Pi (12%)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (12%)

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Brave (65%)
Wreck-It Ralph (22%)
ParaNorman (8%)
Frankenweenie (4%)
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (1%)

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: Amour – Austria (70%)
A Royal Affair – Denmark (11%)
Kon-Tiki – Norway (8%)
War Witch – Canada (6%)
No – Chile (5%)

Best Documentary – Feature
Winner: Searching for Sugar Man (80%)
The Gatekeepers (10%)
How to Survive a Plague (4%)
The Invisible War (4%)
5 Broken Cameras (2%)

Best Original Score
Winner: Mychael Danna – Life of Pi (54%)
Alexandre Desplat – Argo (17%)
John Williams – Lincoln (17%)
Thomas Newman – Skyfall (6%)
Dario Marianelli – Anna Karenina (6%)

Best Original Song
Winner: “Skyfall” – Skyfall (50%)
“Suddenly” – Les Miserables (20%)
“Before My Time” – Chasing Ice (10%)
“Everybody Needs a Friend” – Ted (10%)
“Pi’s Lullaby” – Life of Pi (10%)

Best Sound Editing
Winner: Skyfall (44%)
Life of Pi (20%)
Argo (15%)
Django Unchained (13%)
Winner: Zero Dark Thirty (8%)

Best Sound Mixing
Winner: Les Miserables (63%)
Skyfall (18%)
Life of Pi (11%)
Lincoln (7%)
Argo (1%)

Best Production Design
Anna Karenina (31%)
Les Miserables (24%)
Winner: Lincoln (23%)
Life of Pi (21%)
The Hobbit (1%)

Best Cinematography
Skyfall (30%)
Lincoln (29%)
Winner: Life of Pi (27%)
Anna Karenina (13%)
Django Unchained (1%)

Best Film Editing
Winner: Argo (69%)
Silver Linings Playbook (12%)
Life of Pi (9%)
Zero Dark Thirty (9%)
Lincoln (1%)

Best Visual Effects
Winner: Life of Pi (78%)
Prometheus (8%)
The Avengers (7%)
The Hobbit (6%)
Snow White and the Huntsman (1%)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Winner: Les Miserables (69%)
The Hobbit (21%)
Hitchcock (10%)

Best Costume Design
Winner: Anna Karenina (39%)
Les Miserables (21%)
Lincoln (21%)
Snow White and the Huntsman (14%)
Mirror Mirror (5%)

Want more? Go to About, Trivia, and Links for even more Oscar coverage!

We also have coverage of the 84th Academy Awards at 2011 Predictions and 2011 Trivia.


41 Comments on “Predictions”

  1. […] A Harvard math student has come up with an elaborate system for predicting Oscars based on all sorts of criteria. The full list of potential winners is up at Oscar Forecast. […]

  2. brian h says:

    Why only 20 categories?

    • bzauzmer says:

      For Best Makeup and the three awards for short films, there was not enough data to make an accurate prediction. I was only willing to use factors that have been proven to be good indicators over the past decade. Certainly, it is impossible to say for sure that any factor is a perfect indicator, and no human opinion can be perfectly modeled with numbers, but the data clearly indicates that some factors are better than others.

      • Gary Ray says:

        I appreciate you sharing your predictions. Are there differing degrees of error plus/minus per category that you have seen in the past or is this your first attemtp to predict the winners?

      • bzauzmer says:

        This is my first year trying this, so I am not yet able to provide margins of error. In the future, comparing my predictions against the actual results will help me to do that. The best I can say is that categories such as Best Picture, with far more indicators than others, are more likely to be correct than categories such as Best Visual Effects. Also, categories with a large percentage gap between first and second place, such as Best Animated Feature, are more likely to be correct than categories such as Best Actress.

  3. Congratulations. It appears you were 100% accurate.
    Is this formula…teachable?

    • bzauzmer says:

      Thank you very much. While this method did go 100% in the major 8 categories, it went 15 for 20 overall. The formula for each category will change every year, by definition, since it uses past results, and each year provides yet another round of data to make the formulas even more accurate.

  4. Carl says:


  5. Steve says:

    Very nice work. Look forward to seeing how your model performs next year with another year of data!

  6. Mike Willis says:

    I love this project — nice work! One suggestion: on your predictions/results page, I didn’t see any distinction between what you predicted would win, and what actually won. Am I missing something?

    • bzauzmer says:

      I have listed the percent odds that each movie would win in each category. Therefore, you could say that the first movie listed in each category, the one with the highest odds, was the movie I was “predicting” to win. The movie in bold with the word “winner” beside it actually won the award.

  7. AnnaZed says:

    Well done, that’s incredible.

  8. Mike Willis says:

    Thanks for the explanation Ben!

  9. Bruce says:

    Thanks for helping me win my local library contest, I had to pick the major categories and they were all correct.

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    • says:

      looking forward to your predictions—-will have seen Argo by then—-no Oscar party as am passing the “torch” to you–love, MiMi

  11. Colin says:

    I’m a little surprised at the director award. Any comments on why Ang Lee is so high and why the so called favorite Speilberg is so low? Can you comment on what factors led to this specifically? Any gut thoughts?

    • bzauzmer says:

      There were a few differences between those two, some more important than others. In particular, Lee received a BAFTA nomination while Spielberg did not. It’s quite hard to win Best Director without a BAFTA nomination: Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby (2004) is the only person to do it in the last 15 years. When I plugged in all of the numbers to create the formula for this category, the math reflected that.

      As a movie fan, I certainly have gut thoughts, but I don’t use them in creating these formulas. I definitely think Spielberg has a shot, though Lee is still the favorite in my mind.

      • Colin says:

        Thanks for the explanation. I was merely curious for the gut pick; I’ve read your methodology and was trying to pinpoint what made Ang Lee such a favourite.

  12. Jim says:

    I originally thought “BRave” would be the clear winner for Best Animated as well but most other sights are now predicting “Wreck It Ralph”…can you give an explanation on how you got that?

    • bzauzmer says:

      First, most other prediction sites are using at least some opinion, not entirely math. That’s a perfectly fine way to predict the Oscars, but it can often lead to different results than a mathematical model.

      Second, while I never look at other predictions until after mine are finished, I’ve noticed quite a few sites picking Brave.

      Anyway, to your question: Brave won the BAFTAs and the VES awards. Ralph won the PGAs. The order of importance, according to the math, is BAFTA, then PGA, then VES. There are other factors too, but none as important. So, Brave is clear favorite, and Ralph comes is second.

      Thanks for checking out the site!

  13. Paora Yates says:

    Best Actor is way out. Joaquin Phoenix on only 1% – what a bloody joke. Phoenix should triumph over DDL, he was that outstanding.

    • bzauzmer says:

      These predictions are not designed to say who “should” win. They are also not designed to mirror my own personal opinions. Rather, they are a mathematical attempt to determine the most likely winners. When it says that Daniel Day-Lewis has 74% chances, that simply means he has a 3/4 chance of winning – it has nothing to do with the quality of Phoenix’s performance.

      • Paora Yates says:

        Yeah, I knew that. I just couldn’t resist giving an opinion. lol But really, what data did you use or not use to arrive at a prediction of only 1% for Phoenix.

      • bzauzmer says:

        Phoenix failed to win the BAFTA, the SAG, or either of the two Golden Globe awards for Best Actor. Plus, his movie was not nominated for Best Picture. But the thing that really hurt him statistically was that he was the only one of the five nominees to not even receive a SAG nomination. In the past 15 years (that’s how much data I used), all 30 of the Best Actor/Actress winners have been nominated for the SAG. So, even if I didn’t use any math, I’d say 1% seems reasonable.

  14. Paora Yates says:

    I should say “shame on SAG” but then I looked at their past record and I don’t think I’m wrong in say that the actors with the most mates get nominated as can be said of The Oscars and The Golden Globes. Perhaps the most damaging thing for Phoenix is that he recently suggested all acting awards are BS. lol

  15. punter says:

    It would be interesting to compare these percentage with the bookmaker odds.
    For example, bookmakers give Silve Lining Playbook a 2% chance to win best picture.
    Since your prediction says 10%, betting on SLP would have value.
    Ang Lee would also be a value bet (48% vs. 20% from bookmakers).
    Best actor: bookmaker say 95% its goes to Day-Lewis vs 74%, so betting against DDL would have value.
    and so on…

    would be interesting how much money one would win or lose by betting on valuebets using these numbers 🙂

    • Pete says:

      I totally agree! I have been trying to see value bets. Ang Lee was good (I locked in at 5/1 a week ago, now 3/1), and Brave (just behind Ralph in odds, but WAY ahead here). Best Original Screenplay has ZD30 way ahead of Django Unchained here, but not according to the bookies. Will be interesting!

      • Margot C says:

        If Ben repeats his own performance of last year then you will probably be among the last to be able to capitalize on his system because he will explode on the scene like a super-oscar-predictions-nova.

  16. […] את סיכויי הזכייה של המועמדים לאוסקר בכלים מתימטיים, ממקם את אנג לי כמוביל לזכייה באוסקר על הבימוי. העניין הוא […]

  17. Gretta says:

    What about the Harvey Weinstein factor. He has been highly effective in getting Oscars for his movies. Have you considered that for your model? It would probably up DeNiro’s probability.

    • bzauzmer says:

      While Weinstein’s record is certainly impressive, it’s still far too small a sample size. I’ve also heard the argument that there’s “backlash” against Weinstein, but that too would need a lot more data to be mathematically confirmed or rejected.

  18. […] “I love this stuff,” said Ben Zauzmer, a college sophomore at Harvard University who is predicting winners for the second year. “I love looking through the data and finding what the truth […]

  19. mike finn says:

    You were either right on or very close on everything except Best Writing – Original Screenplay.

    Are you going to make adjustments? Any explanation? Easiest explanation might be that it was a close rate and Django squeaked by with something like 35 percent of the vote and the others split the remaining 65 percent. What is your guess?

    • bzauzmer says:

      I’m planning on publishing a blog post later today with a full recap. Basically, Django was an upset, mathematically speaking. I’ll get into more detail later, but those who picked Django correctly were including at least a certain amount of their own hunches in creating their formula. For my purposes, an “upset” occurs when the Academy disagrees with the indicators that it usually agrees with.

      I always make adjustments after each year. At the very least, another year’s worth of data adjusts automatically the coefficients to make the model more accurate.

  20. Margot C says:

    Ben! How about Christoph Waltz! That was crazy.

    • Margot C says:

      Sorry, pressed ‘comment’ too soon; why didn’t his BAFTA and GG wins tip your algorithm?

      • bzauzmer says:

        I don’t know about “crazy.” My model had Waltz and Jones within 9% of each other for the top spot. From a mathematical perspective, it’s completely plausible that someone down by only 9% could pull out the win.

        Both the BAFTA and GG wins are good, but while Jones won the SAG, Waltz was the only one of the five to not even get a SAG nomination. That was the main thing that pushed him below Jones in the math, though barely.

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