But how, exactly, does the Farsite prediction model work?

At Farsite, we created a statistical model that keeps two important things in mind:

1) 40 years of Oscars history can give us winner predictions based on trends
2) Intangibles, like momentum, popular opinion and controversy can buck these same past trends

Maybe most importantly, we know that there are nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy and that many of them vote for other awards too. In several cases, the same actors and producers who vote in the Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild awards will also cast Oscar ballots at the end of the awards season. Statistically, we know that tracking the other awards will hone our predictions this week before the Oscars. And that’s right now!

    Here are the specific types of data that populate our statistical models:

  • Guild Award winners: Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild and Directors Guild
  • Other awards: Critic’s Choice Awards and the Golden Globes
  • Prediction Markets and Betting Lines
  • Previous Nominations and award histories for each of the nominees

See this data take action in our top six races:

Best Picture Best Director Best Actor Best Actress Best Supporting Actor

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Best Supporting Actress – Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita Nyog’o, from our Best Picture pick, 12 Years a Slave, has gained ground in recent weeks, with wins at the Critic’s Choice and Screen Actors Guild, where her acceptance speeches were “emotional and eloquent—making it hard not to root for her,” according to Entertainment Weekly. We give Nyog’o an 85% chance of winning, our second highest win margin behind Jared Leto.

FarsiteForecast for Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto

Jared Leto holds our highest predicted winning margin, with an 86% chance of victory for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto, who’s been away from the acting world to focus on music with his band 30 Seconds to Mars, is back in force with Best Supporting Actor wins at the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice and Screen Actors Guild—considered the biggest win predictor for the Oscar.

FarsiteForecast for Best Supporting Actor

Best Actress – Cate Blanchett

Even among Oscar powerhouses like Meryl Streep and Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett is poised to take home the golden guy for Best Actress. Blanchett has 5 previous Oscar nominations (including 1 win) and a 59% chance of winning this year due to Best Actress wins in the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice awards and the Screen Actors Guild—the top predictor of Oscar success.

FarsiteForecast for Best Actress

Best Actor – Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey is ahead of his fellow nominees for his work in Dallas Buyers Club with an 82% chance of taking home the statue. McConaughey will roll into the Oscars with Best Actor awards from the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice and the Screen Actors Guild—the number one predictor for winning the Best Actor Oscar.

FarsiteForecast for Best Actor

Best Director – Alfonso Cuaron

With his very first Oscar nomination, Alfonso Cuaron is our leader for Best Director. His wins at the Directors Guild Awards—the biggest predictor for winning Best Director—along with his Best Director statue from the Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice awards gives Cuaron a 72% chance of getting the Oscar.

FarsiteForecast for Best Director

Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave

In one of the closest races we can remember, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave are neck and neck. Initial Farsite data had Gravity with a slight edge, but our statistical model—which balances model data with betting odds—gave us a fuller picture. We’ve got 12 Years a Slave at a 55% chance of winning with Gravity at 38%.

How will this year’s first-ever Best Picture tie at the Producers Guild Awards affect the race between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave?

FarsiteForecast for Best Picture

NFL Draft: How Good are First Round Picks Really?

What fun would draft week be without looking at some data? In that spirit we decided to look how draft position affects the willingness of a team to play a given player. In other words, does the sunk cost of the draft pick encourage a team to give a player more playing time than the player’s skill might otherwise call for? We looked at data for running backs and quarterbacks. Also, for quarterbacks we looked at when the playing time was occurring: was it during mop up time in a blowout or was it when the outcome was still in question.

Running Backs
Are running backs drafted higher more likely to “get a shot” than players drafted lower?

Half RoundMedian Rushes in SeasonStandard Deviation
Round 1, First Half215.596.51
Round 1, Second Half114.5100.04
Round 2, First Half125.598.49
Round 2, Second Half7179.24
Round 3, First Half12272.11
Round 3, Second Half6257.55
Round 4 and Above1452.17

The running backs selected in the first half of the first round definitely get a better chance at playing time. There is an oscillation when comparing the first half of a round to the second half of a round. This is probably a result of the fact that teams picking in the second half of the draft probably need to give a rookie running back playing time.

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